The theme for this week’s #52 Ancestors is Preservation and I have been stumped to come up with a blog for this subject. Nothing inspired me to write about Preservation until I suddenly had a thought 10 minutes ago, one person I associate with Preservation is my Granny, Edith Pilbeam.
Grandad had a large back garden at Beechcroft, Punnetts Town and although the garden is a steep slope it is south facing and he grew quite a number of crops, including Christmas Trees when he was retired, but that’s another story! When I was a child I remember the garden being full of vegetables like potatoes, runner beans, purple sprouting broccoli and cabbages. He also had blackcurrant bushes and the old apple tree which is still in the garden now, giving my brother a good yearly crop.
Yes but this is supposed to be about Preservation, I hear you cry! Well in the days before freezers, preservation of fruit and veg was generally done by bottling and salting and granny had a larder full of jars of bottled runner beans in particular, as I remember. They would come out through the winter, jar by jar to provide home grown vegetables before you could go to the freezer and pick out a bag of frozen peas.
She also used to make her own jam and marmalade, although my memories of that is more hazy, I’ve never been a great lover of jam. This was an excellent way of using up soft fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and anything you could forage from the hedgerow such as blackberries and elderberries. I guess that is what the blackcurrants were grown for, blackcurrant jam.
That would have been one of those jobs granny would have carried out in the late summer, autumn ready for the winter. I remember that she had regular jobs she did each day of the week, washing in the twin tub on one day, probably Monday, ironing the next, hoovering and dusting on another, the same as there were set meals; the remains of Sunday’s roast would be minced on Monday. Fish on Wednesday after the visit from the Fish man. And we think we have life hard in 2022!
I have tried my hand at jam making but never very successfully, it either comes out too runny, not enough pectin or too set, too much pectin. We have also bottled fruit such as our plums when there has been a glut at various times and also used a glut to make chutneys, I think we still have some at the back of the cupboard! What about you? Do you preserve fruit and veg or do you have memories of mums and grandmothers doing the same when you were a child? Do you think it is something which should be revived particularly at this current time of hardship?