Fruit harvest and processing, reflection on priorities …

The main event this month has been fruit harvesting, and considering that we are still at the beginning of the Project, I think this qualifies as A Result! There have been greengages, mirabelles, raspberries, blackberries, autumn olive and white beans, plus some apples and pears from friends’ gardens. These have been processed in a variety of ways – jams, compotes, stewed, dried and leathers – and I am very pleased with them all (photos below), especially the mirabelle ‘prunes’, which were dried to a point where they were still slightly soft and are very tasty. They have been vacuum-packed, so any moisture content remaining should not be able to develop into mould. And there’s more to come: figs and hawthorn berries in September, and walnuts the following month. I have also read that hawthorn berries are very high in pectin, so will be trying them for jam-making. At the moment I use chunks of quince, which also work very well in helping jam to set.

Some processed fruit and vegetables. Top, mirabelle ‘prunes’, dried apple and pear rings and autumn olive fruit leather, and below them some haricot Tarbais, the local white bean. Bottom, greengage and mirabelle jam, bramble jelly and apple and mirabelle compotes.

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Ouf! (as you say in France) …

….. meaning phew!, or expressing relief. We’ve had some rain (68mm), and more is forecast in the next few days. We had to wait until the third week of the month, and until then summer continued, with another heat peak around the 15th. And now we are getting noticeably shorter days (equi nox), the mornings and evenings are a lot cooler, and right at the end of the month I lit the woodburner in the evening for the first time.

Although over the last four months we have had about 190mm of rain, two-thirds of the published local average for this period (see the paragraph on weather recording below), the ground has been very dry to quite a depth, and together with the several heat peaks this constitutes a drought for the land here, not good news for young trees.

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