Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Chutney and Balcony Gardening

Finished my spiced apple chutney last night, I’m sure it’ll taste fine once it’s had it’s 3 or so months to mature (if it makes it that long this time), however -
Lessons learnt:
  • Do not be lazy and scrimp on the main pectin-containing ingredient, you will end up with weird mush
  • Do not underestimate how hot jam jars get straight out of the oven
  • Never trust a Kilner jar’s locking-mechanism-wirey-bit (snappy!)
For those feeling brave (actually, it’s a dead easy recipe I just seem to be able to make these things more complicated for myself!), I found the recipe here - Spiced Apple Chutney Recipe.

To sterilise my jars, both of the jam and Kilner variety, I give them a jolly good wash in hot soapy water, then remove the lids for jam jars, the rubbery seal bits for Kilner-style jars. Pop them on a baking tray and into the oven at 120°c for 5 minutes. Once they’re out, plop your jam/chutney/curd/whatever in the jars, preferably while it’s all still hot, then seal them straight away. As the contents of the jar cools it should give a better seal.

In other news, I’ve started collecting plastic milk containers to act as plant pots. As we now have a balcony, our own little bit of outside space, I’m planning on filling it full of wonderful fruit and veg plants over spring and summer. Milk containers offer a nice inexpensive option to start my plants off in, also this is a possibility -

Milk carton gardening

A very interesting and clever set up I saw at the South of England show last year, with some of the bottles providing water for the rest of the pots through a bit of material and capillary action! Although that might be a few steps up from what I was thinking if to start me off.

I’ve decided on the following crops, all of which can be grown in containers and are therefore ideal for a tiny balcony veg garden:
Pak choi, small salad carrot, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, various herbs and hopefully runner beans, providing I can locate a nice big pot and a cane wigwam.

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