A dog day afternoon

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It’s summer glut time and I’m suffering badly.  I find it impossible to let produce go to waste.  And I don’t like giving away produce if I think I may need it sometime in the forth coming year.  Cucumbers I am happy to give away because I am determined not to make any more relish or pickles until we have eaten what is in the pantry – and there is not much else you can do with cucumbers.

Last year, I didn’t preserve any tomatoes.  This year, I have succumbed and made a dozen jars of passata.  Early in the season, I resolved not to freeze any beans but, the other day, I froze three huge bags – ‘Why buy beans in winter when I could eat my own?’, I reasoned.

Things were beginning to settle down when …  We had a windy day and I found these, and more, passionfruit on the ground.  All up, there were four and half buckets of them.

I know how expensive passionfruit are to buy when you need one or two for some special dessert but you lose sight of their value when you have buckets of them.  We haven’t eaten all the passionfruit jam and syrup I made last year so I had decided not to make any more.  What to do with them?

This year, I gave up worrying about all the citrus fruit we had and just put it in the compost bin… but I couldn’t do that with the passionfruit.  There is something special about passionfruit.  Every Australian loves them.  They are part of our national psyche.  No pavlova is complete unless smothered in passionfruit pulp.

Maus’ nephew, Damian, his wife, Bri, and their son, Casper, have just been visiting.  Bri mentioned that she noticed our local kitchenware shop was selling passionfruit syrup for a hefty price.

I had a brainwave.  I would make passionfruit syrup and passionfruit jam and sell it at my Easter stall.

What a bloody stupid idea that was!!!.  No one is ever going to get rich selling home made produce.  This is all very well if you are have fun making it (like my soap) but it is a different story when it is a tortuous ordeal (like making passionfruit syrup and jam).

Instead of spending the day cleaning the house in readiness for our departure to Perth, Maus and I spent the day in the kitchen.  I used my previously posted recipes.  My passionfruit syrup recipe is my most popular post by far. The passionfruit jam recipe is also popular.  As I said, there is something “special” about passionfruit.

I proceeded to get passionfruit pulp and sugar from one end of the kitchen to the other.  I used every pot I own and nearly every utensil.

Maus spent several hours scraping labels off jars (why do manufacturers make it so hard to get their labels off?).  She then spent the rest of the day washing dishes as I messed them.

All went well with the syrup until I decided to strain it.  Because I intend to sell it, I thought it would look nicer strained (it does) but the first (and second) strainers  I used were too fine.  They kept clogging up.  It took minutes to fill one jar.  We ended up with three sieves to wash and passionfruit syrup all over us and the kitchen.

The jam was more problematic.  I burnt the bottom of one pot trying to get the jam to reach 105°C.  I had to transfer to a clean pot, making sure not to catch any of the burnt bits.  When the second pot started to stick (still not 105°C) I decided to bottle any way.  When I finally got it into the jars and it cooled, it was way too firm.

Maus spent her news-watching time scraping the jam out of the jars whilst I scooped out more passionfruit pulp and put it through the electric mouli (the very one that Maus had just washed and put away).  I re-washed and rinsed and sterilised the jars.  I mixed the extra pulp into the jam and stirred it (so it wouldn’t stick again) until it boiled.

We then washed dishes all over again.  By 10:00pm, most of the dishes were done and the burnt jam scraped off the pots.

I have 26 jars of produce.  In the best case scenario, that is $130.  I tell you, it just ain’t worth it!!.  I told Maus the next time I have the silly idea of making preserves to sell at a market, just remind me I am not very good at making jam and it is not worth the effort.  She assured me she would.

Oh!  How I wish I could have had put those passionfruit into the compost bin.

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33 thoughts on “A dog day afternoon

  1. Pingback: an ordinary week – Life in Mud Spattered Boots

  2. I’ve entered the world of preserving so I was laughing as I read this. So far I’ve made choko pickles – not too much trouble and worth the effort for 6 and a half jars using choko from the backyard vine. Then I was given a shopping bag of starfruit with the suggestion of pickling them. I too can’t bear to throw perfectly good if far too abundant stuff out so I looked for a recipe and I also found one for jam. Over the course of an afternoon I made both and netted 1 & a bit jars of jam and 3 of pickles. I gave a jar of pickles to my neighbour and she suggested I have a stall at the upcoming local market. I declined, as I would have had to start cooking a week ago to have enough jars to sell in a fortnight’s time. Now I’ve read your post I know it was the right decision.
    I also hate sticky labels, and throw out the jars that are too much work. If I ever get serious and need more jars I notice some op shops sell them very cheaply. For us, it’s just not worth using the tank water on difficult jars.

    • Hi Ella, Like you when I first retired I went through a flurry of activity, pickling this and that. Of course, I made too much and we haven’t eaten it all yet. Trust me will slow down. It just takes a while to realise you can do nothing.

  3. Sounds exhausting Glenda but the jars look very inviting and I am sure will sell well. I know what you mean about trying to remove stickers 🙂 Passion fruit is very expensive here and if we weren’t so far apart, you might find me loitering around your compost bin.

  4. I love making jams, chutneys and sauce but you’re right, it’s a labour of love. I am now going to look at my strainers and sieves to check out their guages. Maybe I need another one, just in case I go into syrup making.

    • Hi Fi, Luckily for me I read a post by Celia a few years back where she had just bought a few coarse strainers so I HAD to have at least one. If not for that strainer I would still be trying to fill those bloody jars! 🙂 The syrup does look better strained. There is no pulp in it so it is a uniform yellow.

  5. Reading of you and Maus in the kitchen brought to mind an episode of “I Love Lucy” in which she and Ethel go into business making and selling their homemade salad dressing. When all was said and done, they were lucky to break even — but had to deliver the jars themselves, wearing roller skates and pushing carts. You’re ahead of the game, however. You do have a stall. 🙂

  6. I often have grand ideas like this but procrastination gets the better of me. I would have just popped a number of them straight into the freezer for eating/use at a later date!
    Good luck with selling all of your yummy produce:)

    • Hi Sharron. I don’t have much space in my freezer and I know I wouldn’t use much . I froze piles of pulp last year and ended up only making one lot of passionfruit butter which used hardly any of it.

  7. What a frustrating time you had, Glenda. I, too, hate food waste, but sometimes it is impossible to deal with so much produce. As for jar labels!!! Even if you soak them in hot water, some of them are impossible to get off without scraping and then you are left with a sticky residue. I wish I could get hold of Sandra’s orange sticky spot remover. I also second Liz’s comment, heat diffusers are brilliant at preventing brunt reside.

    • Hi Debi, I am off to Bunnings tomorrow to buy some of that stuff. I hate getting the old labels off. I just can’t work out how you can get the jam hot enough to set 105C without burning its bun. If I use a diffuser won’t it make it more difficult to get to 105C?

  8. What an exhausting day Glenda. I reckon, after selling all your syrup and jam you will have to buy yourself a bottle of bubbly to celebrate all your effort.
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  9. What a drama – I can just imagine the pans and utensils mounting up along with your frustration! I hope you have a great day at the markets and at least sell it all off. But maybe keep a jar back just to remind yourself of the pain you went through 🙂

  10. Passionfruit curd/butter, not as messy to make, well almost, but worth the effort when eaten in small, crisp pastry tarts with a dash of sour cream on top. Mine is the basic recipe of eggs, butter and passionfruit and is divine. I haven’t preserved it in jars yet, doesn’t last that long, but I am sure it will be a seller at markets. I met a Canadian recently who had never eaten a passionfruit! Makes you wonder how the rest of the world survives. Keep cooking girls. Love it, wish we were neighbours.

    • Hi Robyn. The trouble with passionfruit butter is it doesn’t use that much passionfruit and you have to buy the butter so it would be even less of a money spinner. I often wonder how passionfruit got to be loved so much by Australians. Is it just that the vines grow so easily here that every back yard had one?

  11. I feel your frustration Glenda but I hate to waste food too and would probably have made cordial and jam too. I discovered a fabulous product that removes labels easily. Orange sticky spot remover, available in Bunnings works like magic. Spray it on the label you want to remove, leave it for about 5 mins then it will lift off easily. You just need to wash the gluey residue off. Good luck with your stall

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