Suddenly the fruit bushes were full of jewel-like redcurrants glowing like rubies in the bright sunshine! And I mean full, it has been a bumper harvest which has meant jam-making on days when it was really too hot to be near a stove. Some stored in the freezer for summer pudding to be eaten long after the memory of this wonderful hot weather has faded, some made into a spiced redcurrant jelly to go with lamb or pigeon breast (a friend was musing on just how good the pigeons who had eaten all her redcurrants would taste if only she could capture them!) There will be more to make into a sweet redcurrant and raspberry jam, and some we have simply eaten, spooning it on to yoghurt for breakfast, or sneaking spoonfuls from the bowl in the fridge. But the blackcurrants that don’t go into summer pudding or get poured over ice cream just have to be made into a traditional jam, thick, with a soft set and not too sweet. I could eat it by the spoonful….
Tomatoes too are finally starting to ripen, much later than last year because of the cold spring. Picking a handful of small plum tomatoes, a new variety to us called Lucciola, I couldn’t resist popping one in my mouth. Sweet, with a deep flavour and delicious, the skin not tough because they have ripened quickly. Perfect with home-grown basil, again aromatic and tasty because of the warm weather, some locally bought, if not manufactured, mozzarella (from Ceci Paolo, it’s worth it!) and olive oil smuggled home in our suitcases last year from Paxos. That will be perfect for tonight’s supper, along with a green salad of lettuce and our own broad beans, and some freshly pulled radishes, nicely hot and crunchy. Bliss!
If you are barbecuing during this hot spell – we have had to let the Aga go out as the dog was complaining he couldn’t sleep in the heat, so are using the ancient table-top barbecue we bought years ago for any roasting – then do consider this home grown charcoal. Is it just my imagination or is it not only easier to use, lighting quickly and smoking less, and gives a better heat, but also makes things taste better? Probably, but hey! We might as well cook our wonderful Herefordshire meat and vegetables over local charcoal while we wait for the scientific analysis of my claims.
Enjoy the summer, and all that it provides.