can’t want for much more than this

The kitchen is hot, it’s not just the gas hob burning away, it’s burning hot outside and this old shack is in a poorly state. A cool change is on the way, but it couldn’t come fast enough, sweat beads on my forehead as I work the peeler and core the pears. It’s the height of summer, when nature turns into hyper productivity, it’s the time of plenty, especially for those people that rely heavily on tended gardens for future food provisions. Each year there is a month or two when so much produce abounds it’s time to enter preservation month. The kitchen is often occupied as the main room, as vegetables are cleaned and sliced, fruit is peeled and stewed and meals are cooked consisting of the years freshest bounty, a variety of food unseen elsewhere on the calendar.

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This is the life I’ve embraced over the years. It’s the seasonal life, and right now everything beautiful about backyard produce surrounds me in excess. Our recent fruit acquisition was quite the haul, we can’t eat it all now so it’s important to capture that glut for winter. First up was the plums, of which I made into two large bottles of Worcestershire sauce for fresh eggs cooked most mornings, I guess it would also partner well with the odd kangaroo steak. Next up were the Chojuro early pears, a small Japanese variety that were peeled and stuffed into precious Fowler preserving jars. A very light syrup now covers the fruit as they store for us to enjoy on pancakes, in baking and as snacks over the lean, challenging months of winter. In a nutshell thats what this time of year is all about really… harnessing summer, that miracle of photosynthesis gone mad which produces food, plenty of food.

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As we bottled and boiled our fruit, the vegetables in the backyard where getting a nice drink from my sprinkler system, and growing like mad while I wasn’t watching. The beans have long since flowered and now bear small pods that will plump up and subsequently dry out on the vine, to be stored and rehydrated for winter stews. The pumpkin has legs like Elle McPherson and busting fruit to match. This beautiful fruit will stay outside until the first frosts of Autumn, when the leaves wither and die, but the fruit remains, bright orange and yellow beacons in the grass, a food source that keeps us well until spring.

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With each warm day the tomatoes continue to ripen, and when the summer is done we will preserve a few hundred kilograms on passata day, as passata is the basis of much of my winter cooking. The zucchini grows when your sleeping and the large fruit that’s not eaten during the week ends up in various forms of relish and chutney, which complement man size hot toasted sandwiches for those cold days working outside.

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Nature does her own job of preserving, with root vegetables lapping up the warmth of summer to be stored under ground for us to pluck out in winter. Carrots, parsnips and potatoes thrive now, only to be eaten later. All in all it’s a beautiful system. A time honoured approach to surviving with very little. It’s a busy lifestyle, one in which I’m often plum tuckered by early evening, but I sleep well these days. Well rested, I wake each morning with chores on my mind, a well fed body and a recharged spirit.

As I fill the last jar with sweet summer pears I ponder for a second. Why do all this work when I could buy it? Well the truth is I don’t like money. I’m not good with it. Thats why I’d rather work for my food. I know I’ll never be a rich man, I’ll never own anything of great expense, but I have everything I need, I don’t want for much more than this. I have pears in a jar.

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PS. Hipsters take note. Please stop using preserving jars for tea-light candle holders and vases. It’s pushing up the price of jars for us people that use them for their intended purpose.

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  • February 21, 2013 - 10:50 am

    Darren - ah the old fowlers jars, I think my mum has 1000′s of them! Summer memories as a kid involve boxes of fruit and mum preserving all hours, then shelves being stacked for the winter. awesome memoriesReplyCancel

    • February 21, 2013 - 10:28 pm

      Amber - Quick, get your Mum to list them on ebay!!ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 10:52 am

    Kristy@SeeMyFootprints - lol re the tea light candles. One day I’ll get brave enough to do water bathing… one day.ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 11:17 am

    Steve Burns - pears in a jar – it’s a rich life, indeed!ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 11:22 am

    Dayla - Yay, great post! I am in the middle of making tomato sauce. Have made so many things with zucchini in them. Even tomato sauce. Made lots of herb jelly with wild road side apples. Chutneys and relishes. I have a little stall at the front of my house and tourists stop by on Sundays and buy preserves and plants, garlic and zucchinis. Is not a bad way to make a few bucks from excess produce.
    Dayla
    ps have made your zucchini slice from your book, its excellent!ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 11:32 am

    Justin - “I have pears in a jar”…that’s the spirit Ro! True wealth.ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 11:52 am

    Jenna - those damn hipstersReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 12:07 pm

    Shelley Panton - love your last note about the jars .. you may find a few with lights in them over at Butterland .. by the way, love to lend a hand chopping tomatoes on Passata day if you’d likeReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 2:40 pm

    zita fox - Such a beautiful post, my mouth is watering for some pears now.
    The ps part gave me a good chuckle also ;) ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 4:30 pm

    Woman on Wild Mountain - O, love those pears in a jar. all one needs. so easy to preserve. and I love those jars you are using.

    K.ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 8:30 pm

    Ami Hillege - We’re picking mulberries this week! We thought our berry picking was over. So we’re making luscious preserves. The yellow peaches are just about ready. Another day or two and full scale chutney and jam production will get under way. And what about those zucchinis! Man they can grow quickly!
    I used the last of my Fowler preserved plums last week that I put away last summer. Nothing nicer than a plum clafouti! With cream of course.
    And yes, I agree with you about the preserving jars!ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2013 - 9:58 pm

    Darrun - wEhad pOtatos for dinnerReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 12:29 am

    Regena Fickes - Lovely summer produce! Can’t wait for our turn in the northern world. Tell the hipsters to use the odd pasta sauce jar for tea lights. There are some lovely ones out there in their supermarkets.ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 1:55 am

    Miin - Always check out Gumtree for Fowler’s and other Vacola jars.. they often turn up in bulk, sometimes free! Some little country op shops still sell em cheap (I bought a heap for a friend in WA and now wonder if I should have brought them over instead!). Can’t wait till we’re in your position food wise!

    Peace Love and LightReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 3:13 am

    head in the sun - s’exciting time of year, innit?ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 7:10 am

    Nicola Galloway - Beautifully put – that last paragraph resonates so true in our choices also.ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 7:38 am

    Brenda - wonderful sentiments about homegrown produce! I would love that preserve pear recipe. We are planning passata day too…hard to avoid in an Italian family!!! This year we are picking our own tomatoes at a local farm (honesty system style), and then bottling several hundred for all the families. Such a wonderful weekend full of love, laughter and that gorgeous redness!! xxReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 2:10 pm

    Calantha - From someone in the North (Canada), this was a very welcome post for my dreary, cold, grey winter morning.ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2013 - 3:41 pm

    mimi - Can I come hang out in your kitchen??????? Beautiful photos as well.ReplyCancel

  • February 24, 2013 - 7:24 am

    look see. - I’m hankering to make some jam (I’m not really into preserving fruit – nothing against anyone who does, I just rather eat it fresh or not at all, I’m fussy like that) and I’d love to get hold of my nan’s recipes before it’s too late. This is making me wonder if she’s got a stash of jars somewhere as well? Better look into it!ReplyCancel

  • February 24, 2013 - 11:51 pm

    Margaret - The rain up here in “sunny” Queensland is playing havoc with the fig supply, they are splitting, so can be bought cheaply, fig jam is on the agenda, yuuuum……..keep your eyes out for bargains at markets, you may get some down there too.ReplyCancel

  • February 25, 2013 - 3:07 am

    Paul - The Kind Little Blogger - “PS. Hipsters take note. Please stop using preserving jars for tea-light candle holders and vases. It’s pushing up the price of jars for us people that use them for their intended purpose.”

    GOLD! It’s true. Jars are expensive. However, does the jar market really work on the same mechanism as wheat and oil? Perhaps.

    I’d love to preserve my own photosynthesis hard work however, at the moment at least, at its peak we have enough fresh veg to supplement things that we buy. Never do we have excess. Actually, I lie: we always have an excess of herbs.

    Stuff it. Drying my own herbs shall be my first voyage into preserving.ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    harvest time – helenlehndorf - [...] You can find another lovely post about garden harvest time HERE on WHOLE LARDER LOVE.  [...]ReplyCancel

  • March 7, 2013 - 6:11 am

    Ambra Sancin - Great stuff. The cherries were so good this year that I pickled some for the first time – does using liqueur count? Hope so. In any case, they’re delicious – soaked in Maraschino and eaten with gelato or spiced ricotta. Recipe on my blog ‘The Good the Bad and the Italian’ if anyone’s interested.ReplyCancel

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