Denise: The recent week of fine weather already seems, well, less than recent. It’s back to grey skies and persistent strong winds bringing in wintry showers and ruling out any outdoor task that really can’t be put off. Uist winters (this winter and the previous, for certain) are bearable only if you have indoor occupations, and preferably ones that aren’t just a question of amusing oneself. In short, work. And that’s something we’re not short of at any time of year, indoors or out, but thankfully as tourism in Uist is as seasonal as the weather, winter is the time for building up our stocks for summer. Today, we’ve been keeping busy with making preserves or getting them ready for sale.
During the past few days we’ve made four large (by our standards) batches of marmalade: three are to a traditional recipe using Seville oranges ; the other we’ve called Sweet Orange Marmalade. All the jars jars needed to be labelled, dressed, and then stashed away in the big pantry. It’s a tedious and time-consuming job, but once we’d got ourselves into the mind-set to get the job done, we might as well do the same for other preserves that were still ‘naked’: Spicy Green Tomato Chutney, Gooseberry & Raspberry Jam, Red Tomato Chutney, and last but not least (well, okay, least in the sense that there are only a few of them), Uist Apple Jelly (made just with apples grown here in the Big Garden, and sugar). That’s a lot of jars, and twice as many labels, and then there’s the paper crowns tied on with rafia – enough work for the entire morning. So, to introduce a bit of variety – and to stretch out the work to fill the entire day, we also prepared cooked and bottled up (oh, and labelled and crowned as well) a large batch of chutney to a new recipe – Gooseberry & Ginger Chutney. Looks good, smells good, and, well, the taste can only be judged rightly after it’s been left to mature – perhaps a month.