SINCE last year, my dozens and dozens of preserving jars have been waiting patiently in the hallway, under tables and beneath kitchen benches.
But Shaun, our new housemate, is a member of the Seddon Organic Collective – a very attractive quality in a prospective roomy. Last week he bought a box of tomatoes from the wholesale market, and we put the Fowler’s kit to work.
We chose the least fuss method: quartering the tomatoes, buzzing them briefly, and pouring them into the jars, skins, seeds and all.
When Margaret, my Fowler’s fairy godmother, first wrote to me she said she had “the complete works”, and she spoke the truth. As well as the jars, lids, seals clips, and the boiler, she gave me bottle tongs, a peach pitting spoon, a pineapple corer, a cherry stoner, and vacuum bottle opener. And of course, her old instruction book, with Mrs B. Thrifty on the front.
So, while we brought the tomato jars to the boil, we passed the time flipping through the instruction book.
Naturally, we were drawn to the meat-bottling pages, most of all.
These days Fowler’s only recommends bottling high-acid fruit, but when Margaret’s book was printed, any edible substance was fair game: fruit, vegetables, eels, sheep’s tongues or calves’ feet. No matter. Just load ’em in.
We held the tomatoes on the boil for 15 minutes, then plucked them out. I think they’ll suffice for the winter.