This evening I took a break from sewing Samantha's pop-star outfit. This was from necessity because the redcurrants were fully ripe and today my husband and daughters stripped the bush clean as requested while I was at work. When I weighed the bowlful before removing them from stalks and discarding the shrivelled ones, it came to 1.8kg, after my younger daughter and I spent over 90 minutes steadily de-stalking them, it came to just over 1.6kg. I wasn't sure that I had enough sugar to turn the whole lot into jelly in one go, so I did 1kg worth this evening, which after straining out the pips gave me just over 2 jars worth (one of which will be a gift for a friend this weekend). My elder girl who stayed up for the jelly making had a taste of the scraping from the saucepan and wanted more, so that is a good sign.
It seems like such a lot of work for a couple of jars (though there will be more tomorrow from the remainder which are ready for cooking), but as we stripped the berries from their stalks I explained (between younger girl's silly jokes and elder girl's comments as she sorted photos from her music trip) that jams, preserves and jellies were made from fruit as a way of preserving them for the winter months, so that people got a supply of vitamin C even when there wasn't any fresh fruit about. Modern international trade, airfreight and people travelling relatively easily around the world has given us the impression we can have any type of fruit at any time of the year, but not so very long ago seasonal was the only way to eat, and during the war, preserving produce was vital during rationing. The nicest thing about this evening was that we spent time together, even though the task was monotonous, the company was good.
It is now entirely too late to start sewing, especially as I've had a full, busy day at work, I've just heard the jelly jar lids pop as they cool (they've sealed nicely) so I shall go to bed shortly after a job well done.
Extravagant Hats on French Ladies, 1788
1 hour ago