These fine Spring days open up far too many possibilities. At the very moment that we need to start building our stocks of fruit vinegars and herby olive oils for all the events in the calendar, the garden beckons. A customer at the East Dean village market last Wednesday told us how their tomatoes seedlings are well under way – while our greenhouse is still in dormant mode. The shed needs ‘sorting out’; the back of the house, that receives the full force of the Westerlies, is in need of a paint job; the black mulberry has once again beaten me by starting up it’s annual routine before I have had a chance to carry out some circumspect pruning; the raspberry canes are growing quickly and need to be tied in to the rails; the toad seems to have gone missing etc, etc. And what can I say about the lawn!!
But back to our stratta produce! We have produced a small quantity of orange vinegar using the zest of organically grown oranges – quite delicious and well worth a try on salads – and Mary yesterday made another batch of spiced plum sauce, a line that is becoming increasingly popular going well with Far Eastern dishes and duck.
Adding a ‘blog’ to our website some months ago was a logical next step, giving us the opportunity to talk more directly to our many loyal customers as well as the numerous browsers that discover stratta delights. What has become very apparent is that we have not managed to fit any additional hours or even minutes into each day and I hang my head is shame that the fine blogosphere is not being enhanced by our publications! The chilli festivals of August wandered into the September tomato festivals which in turn abutted the apple festivals of October.
This week we have drawn breath whilst processing medlars and russet apples and rosehips alongside the everpresent old timers of raspberry, redcurrant, lavender and damson. Our elderberry vinegar has once again proved a rip-roaring success, natural partner that it is to the wonderful game that is to be had – pigeon breasts or venison are ideal. I suspect it will all be sold out within the next few weeks and that next year we will have to set aside even more picking time for the wild fruits.
What with mulberry picker’s neck, gooseberry picker’s puncture wounds, elderflower gatherer’s bramble scratches and raspberry picker’s scarlet clothes – Mary and I are having a fine time this week!! Fruits are busy ripening daily and keeping up with the harvest along with bottling and preserving, whilst all the time heading out to our regular farmers’ markets and festivals means that the days simply don’t have enough hours. However – on the plus side – it does mean that those glorious tastes of summer are once more captured in our vinegars and once more on our stall. Strawberry, elderflower and gooseberry are already out and about, with the first black mulberry being ready in a week or two.