Summer Tasmania: this time of year, my attention turns to protecting my berries and fruit from marauding birds, rabbits and possums. Not to mention the aphids, bugs, and slugs.
My plum has been hit hard by aphids but think I am on top of it now and have gotten onto the cherry slugs early. My mission this year is to get to the currents and jostaberries before the birds do.
It’s nice to have fresh berries and fruit from the garden, but the main reason I try to harvest as much as possible is to make jams to keep us going for the year. We use a lot of jam for breakfast to go on our freshly baked croissants.
If you haven’t tried making jam, give it a go as it is not that hard. I had never made jam before coming to Glencoe B&B and now make jars and jars of it.
If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry as you can use frozen berries or, better still, when the fruit is in season and cheap at the supermarket, use that.
There is nothing nicer than fresh peach or plum jam that has no preservatives or artificial flavour or anything else and is just all fruit.
You can also reduce the amount of sugar in your own jam. My favourite is apricot jam and if apricots are not in season then you can use dried apricots.
Dried apricot jam has a wonderful intense apricot flavour. How do I know this – I have a secret weapon. The Jam Lady lives down the road from Glencoe.
She is a jam, chutney, preserve, paste, and sauce-making machine! I do basic jams…but the Jam Lady has some wonderful and unusual flavours.
We are currently enjoying her pineapple jam. She will make whatever you want. If you stay at Glencoe Guesthouse in summer Tasmania-style, a visit to the Jam Lady can be arranged.
Probably my favourite berry is the good old fashioned English Lion Gooseberry in summer Tasmania-style. If you can get past the thorns on the bush, they are the large, green tart gooseberries.
They make fantastic jam and are good to add to other jams for extra pectin. The hardest jam to make I think is strawberry jam as strawberries are very low in pectin.
I have been told a trick and it works – rather than just use lemon juice, put half a whole lemon in the mixture. It really works; my strawberry jam actually sets and wasn’t strawberry sauce.
Another trick is to put some butter in your jam as this will stop the foamy scum from forming on the top and makes the jam look nicer.
Another nice jam to make is rhubarb jam and I have a huge rhubarb patch. A jam you get at Glencoe Guesthouse that you may not find in many places is Laurel berry jam.
It is quite an old-fashioned jam and very labour intensive to make. I have a very large laurel berry tree that is bird central, but there are enough berries for me and the birds.
You have to slow cook the berries for many hours, then push them through a sieve to remove the seeds, and then use the pulp for the jam.
The jam has an almond flavour similar to marzipan. Another jam the Jam Lady makes that you will not find in many places is another old fashioned one – melon jam.
That is when she can get jam melons (citron melons). These melons were common in years gone by – they cannot be eaten raw and must be cooked – used for jam, pies, pickles and chutneys, as well as in fruit cakes.
I believe they are an ancestor to our modern watermelons. You can make jam out of a lot of different produce – jam can be savoury as well.
Start with some basic jams…then when you get the jam-making bug, let your imagination go wild.
If you are more into eating berries, there are quite a few berry farms around us. Just around the corner from Glencoe B&B is Plump Berries.
They have many different berries, and you can pick your own. Plumb Berries also has a distillery and makes fruit wines and liquors as well.
They make small batches experimenting with different flavours. Every batch is different and unique. They do have a cellar for wine tastings, too.
At Turners beach there is a huge strawberry farm where you can pick your own fruit. They also have raspberries and blueberries, as well as a café – a great place to spend the afternoon.
There is another berry farm just outside Sheffield, and I have to mention the Cherry farm. Cherries make great jam, however, at this time of year we are all waiting for the cherries to ripen, as we eat so many.
For those guests leaving Glencoe Guesthouse and travelling to Launceston, we always recommend a visit to Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm and the chocolate-coated raspberries.
Across the road is Van Dieman’s Land Creamery – only the best ice cream and gelato I have ever had!
They make different flavoured ice creams and gelato depending on what produce is in season. Ok, I need an ice cream now. Summer in Tasmania is a great time of year to visit.
For more of our blogs, click here.