Anne of Greengages?

When I tell people one of the first things I made after moving in was greengage jam the first thing they always ask is “what’s a greengage?.” I never thought they were all that weird but I do come from a family of prolific jam makers and I think this ugly wee fruit may make just about the best jam I have ever tasted. And God knows – I love jaaaaam!

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They day that I picked the greengages (mid September) I was actually picking apples from the small orchard someone kindly planted for us about 10 years ago. I didn’t actually know they had planted us a greengage tree to until I saw dozens littering the ground. I think if it had been just  few days later when I noticed them it would have been too late. But as providence would have it I did spot them and they were at the ripest they could be without spoiling!

They tree bore about 3 kg which I gave a good wash, chucked the dodgy ones, halved and tumbled into the jelly pan.  I don’t know why jelly pans and are called jelly pans in Scotland. Jam is jam in UK and jelly in US so why we call them jelly pans is beyond me. Answers on a post card please. Anyway mine is my Grannies and is very sentimental. To think I’m the third generation (at least – I have no idea where she got it from) to swirl and mix fruit and sugar about this pan brings me a lot of joy. That’s before I even get to eat it! Did I mention I love jam by the way?

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Here’s where I made my big mistake – in my super excitement I just put everything (water, sugar and fruit) in the pan at once. School boy error. Greengages, plums and damsons all have very annoying little stones. They are almost impossible to dig out of the raw fruit but once they are cooked they should all float to the top where they can be scooped out with a spoon. This doesn’t work though if you put they sugar in at the start because as you boil it up its already turning to jam, getting thicker and thicker, making it harder and harder to catch all the stones before they are set into the jam forever more.

So, next time I make it I will try boiling the fruit up in just water, scoop out stones, THEN add the sugar!

So anyway, here are the ingredients and how you make it which is generally what’s needed to call something a recipe I believe. These amounts are for 1 kg of fruit. Divide/multiply accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg greengages
  • 250 ml water
  • 750 g sugar

Method

  1. Wash and chuck away and rotten gages.
  2. Cut in half around the stone like a mini avocado and twist to separate.
  3. Put the greengages in large pan and bring to the boil with water.
  4. Once boiling try and scoop out all the stones that should hopefully be floating on top.
  5. add the sugar and boil up until thick (usually about 20 minutes)
  6. pour into sterilised jars and store and/or eat immediately on toast 🙂

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I’m not too sure if it’s just because it’s the first thing I made or that I managed to pick the gages at their absolute sweetest but this jam was an absolute belter! It was great in porridge over the winter months and obviously on toast was brill. I still have on more big jar which I’m saving. I’ll post a wee pic of the actual finished jam when I do. Amazing to be eating fruit that you picked 9 months ago… The power of preservation!!

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Why write a blog?

A little over 6 months ago I left life in the city centre of Glasgow to start a dream life in the country. The rural life is something I think a lot of people dream of, especially if you have spent many (or all in the case of my partner and me) idyllic childhood summers on a farm (Arran for him, Selkirk for me).

Our new way of life has been mostly amazing and only occasionally miserable but has almost, always been hard work and almost, always been beautiful and I guess that’s the appeal.  You might, say, be slogging your guts out trying to dig weeds out of an overgrown veg patch, or a having to scrape 1 inch ice of your car at 6am when its -7℃ (see above pic) but for those moments when you stop to mop your brow, tie back unruly hair (have I mentioned the wind yet? oh jeez…), hoik up your gardening leggings (we all have them, yes?) and you look out at a stunning view or have a laugh at the sheep watching you intently and then when you can tell yourself its yours it does help to push you to keep going and know its all it for something. Or at least that that its the payment, ain’t nothing for free. Or easy

Between the house and the garden and normal life (cooking, cleaning, work, NEEDING to watch an entire season on Vikings in one day) it can really feel like an uphill struggle so I though this would be a good way to keep track of all the things we have achieved. And if along the way i can share some nice ideas, recipes or general ramblings then that’s nice too 🙂

Kbxxx