Autumn … The Making of New Traditions

Autumn is the season of change.

The leaves turn, summer warmth gives way to the nip of misty, damp mornings, the wind whips through a little more sharply and plump fruits fall from trees.

Thoughts turn to long hard winters – and even if global warming is generally reducing the number of snowed-in days and bitter visits by Jack Frost, there is still an instinct to prepare for those long months before the optimism of Spring returns for another year.

The plentiful hauls from well-tended gardens turn swiftly into unmanageable gluts. There is only so much of one fruit or vegetable that can be consumed at the point it presents itself to the avid cultivator. So, preserving is a way of life, a rite of the seasons, a necessity if we are all to reduce food waste.

It is never too late to come to the preserving table. As Mr Deli has discovered, a glut of vegetables and a reliable ‘go to’ recipe can inspire many happy hours of mixing, boiling and bottling.

Nigel Slater is a favourite food writer of ours … his way with words matches his incorrigible seasonality – his thoughts on chutney chime with ours:

If I am going to eat chutney at all, it needs to be nicely balanced but capable of giving a bit of a kick to anything it is partnered with. That may well be nothing more than a Sunday-night sandwich, but I am finding posh pubs, too, are plonking it on the side of everything from fish cakes to vegetable tarts. I have yet to meet a terrine whose overriding meatiness wasn’t improved by a dollop of pickle or chutney.

Our neighbour in Bwlch-y-Ffridd – Ivor Wigley – has a lifetime of gardening experience behind him … every Summer, his bags of runner beans start to arrive at Rose Chapel. Each bag is ready for the freezer, the contents cut to size and chutney-ready.

This week, Mr Deli tackled the first 3 kilos of locally-grown beans and, once again, pored over Nigel Slater’s ‘Autumn Coloured Bean Chutney‘ recipe. Mustards and cider vinegar provide the “bit of a kick” imagined by Mr Slater … turmeric and tomatoes add the Autumn colour. The resultant 18 jars address the early Boxing Day orders already nestled between the pages of the shop diary.

Continuing the spirit of Autumn, Mrs Deli spent a day recently with 2 of the authors of ‘DO Preserve‘, a fabulously inspiring book by The DO Book Company which helps readers to “make (their) own jams, chutneys, pickles and cordials“. This reconnection with food traditions is having a secondary benefit as it slows us all down just a little while pots simmer and jars fill. All of which reminds me, I better get a new order in to replace the copies of ‘DO Preserve‘ that have been flying off the shelves. Perhaps we are all starting our own new preserving traditions!