When we returned from our trip up the Caldon Canal I was not expecting the garden to be particularly overrun with produce. I knew the brambles would have been prolific and the raspberries would have produced a creditable amount but the courgettes had been looking peeky before we left, the onions were doing well but we were not going to be overwhelmed by them and the carrots were not yet ready. It did not cross my mind to even consider the greenhouse.
Thanks to the leaf mould the Captain’s tomatoes have fallen prey to, I had crossed the greenhouse off my list of Areas of Potential Edible Growth in Need of Checking on Return list. It was only because I forgot to pick up some tomatoes in Tescos that I thought of venturing into its glazed confines and having a furtle. The tomatoes are still in disarray but I did find enough to eek out a salad. The real excitement came from the cucumber plants I forgot existed! Curled into the most extraordinary shapes were several magnificent specimens. I wish I had taken photos but alas, I did not.
There is nothing quite like freshly picked fruit or vegetables of any description but the cucumber I chopped up for my lunch was exquisite. Sweet, succulent and dripping with an almost melon-like flavour, it was all I could do to stop myself eating the entire vegetable. Its sweetness reminded me of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recent article in The Observer about vegetable jams. I had saved Hugh’s recipes to experiment with and am hoping our carrots will provide enough for at least one batch of Carrot Jam. I quite like the idea of planting some Lemon Verbena for use next year too. Consequently, I decided to do a bit of research and see if I could come up with a recipe for Cucumber Jam.
After a bit of rummaging, I came up with one that I think needs some tweaking. Next time I will peel the cucumber (purely for aesthetic reasons) and half the root ginger. I think that combination will result in a mixture that will be sweet enough to grace the best buttered toast or crumpets around as well as being suitable for savoury uses. If you like a ginger kick, and I do, then the recipe as it stands is superb with a good strong cheddar or some other sharp cheese.
Cucumber, Vanilla and Ginger Jam
500g cucumber, finely diced
80g fresh root ginger
1 vanilla pod
350g jam sugar
Place sugar in preserving pan with cucumber. Slice vanilla pod into two and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and pod to pan. Peel and grate root ginger into pan. Stir well and leave for 2 hours.
Bring slowly to the boil stirring continually until sugar dissolved. Once sugar dissolved, boil rapidly for about 10 mins until set acheived. Pour into sterilised jars and seal.