2018 will be the last year we’ll be selling The Big Garden preserves. When they’re gone, they’re gone!

LLemon Curd from The Big Garden, Isle of South Uistemon Curd

We sell as much lemon curd as all the other preserves put together!

As with all our other preserves, there’s a season for making lemon curd ; but, unlike the others, it’s not a season that has anything to do with the ingredients: we make it only when there’s customers to buy it. The season in question is the holiday season!

Unlike the lemon curd (or rather the product that is passed off as lemon curd!) found in supermarkets, which has a very long shelf-life, our lemon curd is a fresh product which is made in batches of just four jars, as and when needed, though these days we draw the line at one batch per day!  Of course it’s the quality and quantity of the principal ingredients that makes our lemon curd so special : eggs from our own hens – free to range over the land and shore of our croft and have big yolks rich in colour and flavour ; and lemons that are carefully selected for ripeness, juiciness and flavour. And then there’s the recipe and method … but they are, of course, top secret!

Our lemon curd really is something special ; but we don’t expect you to take our word for it, or the word of our many many delighted-and-back-for-more customers, but we do expect you to try it for yourself!

Details: Lemon Curd is sold in nominal 8 oz screw-top hexagonal jars, price £4.50 each

Serving suggestions: On white bread (made with a strong bread-flour and a good crust) and butter ; Served with dairy ice cream with real vanilla. Irresistable!

Jams and Jellies, Marmalades

Jellies are much more than jams without bits! The consistency and texture of all jellies are very similar, so it’s all about the flavour – and not so much the richness of the flavour, as its purity and intensity.  And physically, the clarity of the jelly. In fact, clarity pretty much sums it up! So, we make jellies only with those fruits that are best suited to the art of jelly-making. Here’s some you may find on the shelves of our garden shop, depending on the time of year and many other factors, not least those who visit the garden shop before you! –

Blackcurrant, Uist Apple, Blackberry, Sweet Gooseberry, Rosehip, Japonica Quince, Mint

Rosehip, Quince and Mint jellies are traditionally eaten with meats, but also good cheese or a fruit salad, or on crispread, or … well, it’s good to experiment!

Jams, are … well, we all know what a jam is! Don’t we?   Well, it seems not, because whilst most would rightly assume that the quality is largely down to the quality and quantity of the fruit, what is less obvious is that the quality and flavour are so much dependent on the amount of natural and added sugar.  We aim to make as full use of the natural sweetness of the fruit: we know that if we get that right, we’ll be on the right path for good flavour also – it won’t be overwhelmed by sugariness.  Quality like that isn’t found on supermarket shelves, so as far as possible we use fruit we grow ourselves here in the walled kitchen garden, or on our croft – Gooseberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Rhubarb, Quince, Apple.

Marmalades are jams with citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, limes ; orange and lemon, lemon and lime. Then there’s chunky, fine-cut. But not bits-free: if it hasn’t got peel in it, it isn’t marmalade – in our opinion.  But there’s more!  We make marmalade with straightforward white sugar, yes ; but also with dark muscovy sugar.  There really are so many possibilities with marmalades, so you never know quite what you’ll find on the shelves of the garden shop. If indeed the previous customers have left anything for you to find!

Details: Jellies, Jams and Marmalades are sold in nominal 8 oz screw-top hexagonal jars, price £3.50 each

Chutneys and Pickles

Pickles are so important to our own winter larder that it is only very rarely that you will find them on the shelves of our garden shop. Fruit vegetables and herbs – whole, sliced or chopped – can be pickled in vinegar, of course, but alternatively in a vegetable oil, or a sugar syrup, or salt brine, often with herbs or spices added. If we do have pickles for sale, you’ll no doubt find spiced pickled shallotts in brewed vinegar, or rosemary sprigs in olive oil.

Chutneys typically use the same ingredients as the pickles, but mixed to various recipes.  Chopped, sliced and cooked with sugar and vinegar they’re more likely to be chopped and sliced and cooked.

Details: Pickles are packaged and priced according to the contents! Chutneys are sold in nominal 8 oz screw-top hexagonal jars, price £3.50 each.

Dried Herbs

We grow a variety of herbs, primarily for our own use, but from late Spring to early Autumn there’s usually enough to sell them fresh-cut to the visitors. As the summer progresses we often find there’s so much of some herbs that they’re likely to just go to waste, so we dry the leaves and store them in jars – both for ourselves for winter, and for sale. The dried herbs are nothing like what’s sold in shops: ours are still rich in flavour and colour, with far more of the volatile oils remaining. Most commonly it’s Rosemary and Sage that you’ll find on the shelves of our garden shop.  Details: nominal ¼ oz clip-top jars, £3.75 each.

Details: Dried herbs are sold in nominal ¼ oz clip-top square jars, price £3.75 each



Uist Machair Flower Honey - from The Big Garden, Isle of South UistAnd, lest we forget:  In 2011, after two years of cultivating honey bees, we produce our first batch of jars of honey.  Our Uist Machair Flower Honey was – almost certainly – the only honey ever to be produced and sold in Uist. Ever.

We’d got the first jars standing on a little table in the conservatory, not quite ready for display in the shop – as they were still to be labelled. They were spotted by a customer here to buy eggs, and – just as luck would have it, a flurry of other customers suddenly arrived and we had a queue of wildly enthusiastic honey-lovers!  The whole production of that year was sold within just a few minutes.

Somehow we forgot to save any for ourselves! Well, except for this not-quite-full jar, which we labelled not just for this photo, but to get the full satisfaction from our own produce. Alas, ultimately, bee-keeping proved unsuccessful, partly due to the severe weather conditions, and partly because of the lack of other honeybees, whether wild or hived.