Until recently the only bees I knew of were spelling bees, quilting bees, and honey bees. There was a time when there were many other types of bees. Canning bees, for instance.
Preserves included dill pickles, pickled onions, onion marmalade, beet relish, figgy mustard, highbush cranberry sauce, pickled garlic (cloves and scapes), and piccalilli. For those unaware, “piccalilli” is just relish, made with a wide assortment of vegetables instead of just cucumber. My mother’s family always made it with green tomatoes. This particular batch used overgrown zucchini, bell peppers, and onions.
Preserving Mountain Ash (Don’t…) Besides the more familiar preserves listed above, we also made some experimental batches of mountain ash jelly. A botanist friend has ensured me, time and time again, that our mountain ash are edible. I’ve finally conceded that they may be safe to eat, but they aren’t worth eating.
I hate to say that, because we had people cleaning and processing mountain ash all day, but the fact is that the berries are just too soapy and bitter. We even tried a traditional Scottish recipe for rowan jelly in which the whole, uncrushed berries are gently simmered, supposedly to minimize the extraction of soapy flavours, but the resulting liquid was still inedible.
Crushing Apples with a Meat Grinder (Don’t…) We also crushed and pressed another round of apples that day. On the recommendation of an internet site, instead of using a proper crusher, we tried a large meat grinder. It didn’t work very well. The grinder worm wasn’t able to pull the apples through the machine, so we had to force them through with the plunger. We ended up crushing the apples more with the plunger than the blade of the grinder. It took forever. Never again.
Part way through the afternoon we pulled out the hard cider, which was in its bubbly, alcoholic, sweet spot.
First was headcheese, ideal for serving large groups because a) it’s cheap as nails, and b) it can be made the night before and simply sliced to order. Taken with pumpkin seed oil and cider vinegar.
Next we put out some roasts: pork shoulder, pork belly, and beef eye of round. Sliced and served on crusty buns with coleslaw and homemade potato chips.
A jar of each preserve was set out to sample with the sandwiches.
Dessert was sour cherry pie and vanilla ice cream.
Thanks to those who helped out. I have you all scheduled for next September.