I'm coming towards the end of the harvest on my allotment. The dahlias are still going strong but will be over as soon as the first frosts appear and though I still have jerusalem artichokes, leeks and pumpkins, I've picked everything else. We're preparing for harvest festival at school. These days the celebration is much more likely to involve tins and packets of dried food to be donated to the local food bank than home grown tomatoes and sheaves of corn but it's good to do something a little more traditional with what has been grown locally too, if you can.
Last week we talked about harvesting seeds which could be packaged and sold to make a few pennies for the school garden and stocking your plot from donations harvested from the gardens of parents and grandparents or offered on Freecycle. I love Freecycle and have been lucky enough to receive harvest bounty as a result of it on more than one occasion. If you don't grow fruit and veg in your school garden as well as flowers and can get your hands on a bag or two of green tomatoes, quince or apples then there's nothing better than turning them into a delicious chutney, which can also be sold to boost the garden club coffers.
Here are a couple of easy recipes which children can help with. Even if your school doesn't have a child friendly kitchen, the preparation and chopping is therapeutic and the prepared contents take no more than an hour on the stove top, stirred periodicaly by a parent volunteer, teaching assistant or teacher whilst doing some preparation and marking.
Freecycle Spicy Tomato Chutney
2 kilos tomatoes, mixed green and red
500g light muscovado sugar
2 medium sized, hot red chillies
1 tsp salt
4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
600ml white wine vinegar
Chop the tomatoes into halves or quarters. Put the green fruit together with the peeled and roughly chopped onions, into a large preserving pan with the raisins, sugar, chilli, salt, mustard seeds and vinegar. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for an hour or two, stirring occasionallyto reduce the risk of the chutney sticking. After about 1/2 hour cooking, add the ripe tomatoes and continue to simmer. When thick and glossy, spoon into sterilized jars and seal.
Combine 6lbs apples, chopped (any variet, peeled and cored), 3lbs onions, peeled and chopped and 3/4 lb sultanas. Place into a preserving pan with 4lb sugar, 1 teaspoon mustard, salt, pepper and 11/2 pints spiced vinegar. Give it a good stir, boil it up and cook for about an hour on a low heat, stirring from time to time. Ladle into sterilied jars, seal and store in a cupboard or pantry to mature a bit. It should make about a dozen medium sized jars.
Label the jars with pretty labels. Sell them at the Christmas Fair or take orders via the school newsletter.
It's a great way to teach a traditional skill, spread the word about the school garden and make some money to buy next year's seeds.