With the dog days of summer now behind us the drop in night temperature is a sign that the seasons are changing. By dawn, the grass is covered with dew, which lingers until late morning, as the sun rises later and lower in the sky. The autumnal harvest gets into full swing as bramble, rowan and hawthorn berries ripen and at Alledal we have been anxious to make the most of them.
Jam making has been in full swing throughout most of August. First it was rhubarb, then the wild cherries – both black and red, then the lingon berries [no Swedish household could be without this] red currants, black currants and now its time for the rowan berries. If you can get them before the birds they make an excellent jelly that is excellent with game or meats of any kind. I usually follow this recipe:
De-stalk your nice ripe red rowanberries. Simmer them in a pan with a little water to stop them sticking until they are very soft and pulpy, this could take up to 45 minutes if you like me you have several pounds of berries. The berries will turn a slightly disappointing but still vibrant orange.
I always use a jelly bag for this next bit, I’m not sure where you would find one these days however I guess if I had to look for one Lakeland would be my first point of call. Put a big bowl underneath and tip your pulp into the jelly bag. Let it drip through by itself; don’t force it. If you try to squeeze the juice through it will make a cloudy jelly. This will take a good few hours or overnight. The idea is to keep as much of the fibrous pulp behind as possible and just keep the juice to get a clearer jelly.
Once you have your juice, measure it. Allow 1lb of preserving sugar – the one with pectin already added – to 1 each pint of juice. Heat up the juice gently stirring in the sugar. Boil until it reaches setting point – this is 113C if you have a sugar thermometer – or you could do it the traditional way by putting a saucer in the fridge to chill, drop a teaspoonful of the jelly mixture onto the cold saucer and let it cool slightly. If you can push a jellied trail through it with you fingernail, it’s ready.
While everything is still piping hot, bottle the jelly in hot, sterilised jars. Believe me it’s absolutely delicious with venison.
It’s a beautiful time of year to be out in the countryside with Troy and as you know I always keep my camera at the ready. Sometimes though there just isn’t time. I regularly see a young cuckoo sat on a fence post as I walk by, probably looking for caterpillars to eat before beginning his migration south. He never stays long enough to pose for a photograph though. It’s the same with many of the things, seeing them is one thing, getting a photograph is quite another.
The swallows in the barn have raised a second brood and the skies above Alledal ring with their shrieking. They like the cuckoo are feasting before departing for warmer climes.
In sheltered sunny spots down by the river at Billngemölla the butterflies have been gathering. On calm sunny days the gather on the thistle heads drinking nectar, they – unlike most of the other wildlife we see – are more accommodating subjects for my little camera. Never the less we do manage to get some reasonable pictures of other things not just butterflys. I leave you with some of my favourites.