Establishing The Zin House garden is my greatest folly, one that raises the bookkeepers eyebrows most weeks.
It is justifiable only because it ticks each of our guiding principles – Quality, Authenticity, Generosity. And simply because I love it.
So many firsts this week:
First no dig kipflers
First dish entirely our own produce – greens/tomatoes/new potatoes/organic Angus rump/muscat vurjuice dressing
First tomato surplus, leading to:
First batch of tomato chilli jam
First cape gooseberries 🙁 not great yet
Self sufficiency is not the aim, I want to keep supporting as many local producers as possible. But it is exciting to see the garden and orchards in such abundance and good health.
It’s a wild and wooly looking garden, not for the neat who pull things out at the first sign of untidiness. By allowing plants to complete their cycle they are deciding for themselves where they’d like to grow – the self seeded kale took over an entire path so we eliminated the path.
James noticed that when some of the rocket is allowed to flower it has less pests and theorised that as the flowers look just like white butterflies that this is a deterrent to them.
When I was little the suburban houses being built around our farm-house were finished with a planting of potatoes in the front yard. It was the last thing the builders did routinely to break up the ground ready for the owners petunias or carnations. As a tribute Jackie has done this to much of our newly claimed garden area. As a defiance I will never plant petunias or carnations.
Our orchard gave up the last of the apricots (jam for the farm shop opening in February) and at a rough calculation we will be on plums for about three weeks, followed by peaches and figs. Then it will be persimmons, pomegranates and quinces in subsequent weeks.
The big Greengage plum trees in the stone fruit orchard yielded only about a kilo of fruit this year, which I’ve added to the apricot jam for the extra pectin and piquancy to lift the super ripe apricots. The blue diamond plums made what we thought were unbeatable tarts, until yesterdays blood plum version.
Blood plum tart with honey ice-cream is currently at the top of our best, favourite, all time list. I’ve given the recipe for both crostata and ice-cream in previous blogs. But you might like to try this, we served it on the charcuterie plate with our own bresola, rocket, parmesan and mandarin infused olive oil mixed with fresh green grape juice.
If you have access to grapes on the vine then now is the time to press them for fresh verjuice.
Tomato chilli jam
As many tomatoes as you have
Chillis to taste and according to heat. I would use about a dozen medium warmth chillis to 2 kg tomatoes
One cup of sugar, one cup of cider vinegar, one large onion and few cloves of garlic per kg of tomatoes
Combine everything (roughly chopped) and cook gently over a stove top until jammy in consistency.
Season to taste with good salt and pepper.