I spend some Saturdays helping out with the kids cookery club at Occombe Farm. It's where I spend yesterday but the day ended with a big clean up so I asked 'what's in here tomorrow'. It was the preserves course taught by the lovely Lori of Shute Fruit. The course I wanted to go on, taught by the woman who keeps my family in jam only I'd forgot to sign up. But they needed a hand. A volunteer. Someone to help with lunch an d the washing up. And even though it would mean spending all weekend there would I mind helping out.
Well, come on, when do I not jump at the chance to spend the weekend at Occombe. I was up bright and early to help set up. Which meant playing around with all the equipment before everyone got there. Fun! The 22 ladies of the class were going to make Three Fruit Marmalade, Apple and Tomato Chutney, and Apple and Blackberry jam. And we also managed to sneak in some apple jelly and Lori demonstrated making a curd (which I'll casually gloss over).
The morning started with chopping and squeezing and scraping. The ladies where putting the marmalade and chutney on to cook as we and lunch and prepared the jam. There where many sore, citrus hands with this one but the smell was amazing.
What I really loved is watching the chutney. Not just because it's my favourite to eat. See how it turned from big chunks of fruit and veg to delicious, rich, complex chutney.
In the afternoon it was time to get to work on the jam. The vinegar smells were soon replaced with the sweet Shute Fruit blackberries and the lovely apples. Pots and pans bubbled away as we got to work finding, washing and sterilising the jars.
All this time the jelly had been drip, drip, dripping away giving the class the chance to see the different ways of preserving.
Then it was potting time.
In our breaks we got to sample what we had made and Lori came fully equipped with different jams and chutneys to try. As well as being delicious it showed the class what they could do. Lori really encouraged her class to play with all the equipment, look at her favourite preserving books, and check out every way of doing things. I think almost everyone in the room came away with an apple peeler, corer and slicer on their Christmas list. Lori was so great and encouraging, I'd really recommend taking a class from her if you ever get the chance. Or even just wash up at one!