3 February 2008

A Productive Day

Today's Harvest

We've had a lovely day today. Hubby was on days off, so first thing after we got up (slept in till nearly 8! Bliss! Unheard of with a 3yo.) we headed off the the Caboolture markets. I try to go every weekend, the fruit and veg there is great, and very cheap. We're eating far more and better quality fruit and veg than we ever did, and it's costing us less!

This morning, I scored, getting the last box of apricots for $4! Picked up a couple of pineapples for 99c each, and granny smith apples at $1.50/kg.

These were destined for the bottle, and I spent all morning cutting them up and pushing them into little bottles, LOL. Before I get carried away with explaining that, here is the rest of the fruit from today, all washed and divided into snack sized bits into the fridge. My daughter can help herself whenever she wants.

All up it set me back about $35, and that includes the large bunch of bananas in the cupboard, half of which were eaten before we left the markets, a whole pumpkin, corn, carrots, and probably other stuff I've forgotten. I also spent $50 on fruit trees, and now have a peach, tropical nectarine, and meyer lemon tree. I'll have to plant them out tomorrow. While we were there, DD was searching around everywhere for something to buy with 'her money', and not finding much. Then we found a stall of toys, with a whole bag of wooden railway lines, the same size as the ones we already had at home. $5 later, our railway collection was doubled.

Once we were home, I quickly did my morning routine, and then got into bottling. About a month ago, I found an old stovetop Fowler's Vacola unit for $20 in a second hand shop, complete with over 70 bottles of varying sizes. Cost me another $100 for the thermometer, lids, rings and clips, but now I'm slowly building up my stockpile of summer fruits to tide us through the winter months when it's far more expensive.

Here's the unit sitting on the stove, boiling away. I'm still not an expert on bottling, so I'll leave you with a link to Forrest's post "Getting started with home preserving" on ALS. It's what I use all the time, and is a wealth of information.

It took a couple of hours to cut up all those apricots, but it paid off, I now have 7 bottles of apricots of varying sizes, and 2 bottles of pineapple (for use on homemade pizza, DH's favourite). I also have enough bruised and soft fruit left over to make apricot jam tomorrow, should get lots, which is good, because we used the last of the strawberry jam up a few days ago. I haven't done the apples yet, I'll do those tomorrow, along with the harvest from our tomato plants.

That took until after lunch, and I just had time to get it all cleaned up and sit down for a few minutes before DH's parents arrived in the afternoon for a BBQ. It had been raining on and off, but we still managed to get enough of a fire to cook on, albeit using lots of newspaper! I will have to take a photo of our BBQ some time to post, it's very rustic. I actually had some lovely conversations with MIL about all the things we're doing here with producing our own. As we haven't always gotten on too well, it was very nice to have a day where things were easy and friendly.

We also used my own bottled tomato sauce for the first time, and aside from being a little sweet, it actually tasted like tomato sauce! I was most impressed, and feel like I might be able to do this after all. It's the only sauce we have left now, having finished our last store bought bottle, so I guess we'll have to survive on it! Must buy some more tomatoes next market though!

The day ended wonderfully, with my beautiful daughter coming up to me and saying "Mummy, I have a surprise for you," then pulled out a beautiful bunch of 'buttercups'. Aren't kids imaginations wonderful?

Personally, I think they look like fireworks!

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