On Sunday September 20th, I teamed up with people from Transition town food group who want to kick start a project called Cookers and Eaters, learning traditional food cooking skills. And well, I can make jam but in fact, jam making is very easy but this was the first time I’d done it in the open air. 

Programme of events for the day

Programme of events for the day

 We were in the Food area at the top of the park with 4 tables surrounding a raised stage.

Four tables and a stage in the middle

Four tables and a stage in the middle

 The idea was to use the sound system to give a commentary on the jam which would have been hilarious but the sound system stopped working so I didn’t have the opportunity to interview passersby about their jam making experience and top tips.

Herbs and flowers we found in Brockwell Park

Herbs and flowers we found in Brockwell Park

 We started the day with a walk round the park to collect some herbs for tea. We found nettle, yarrow, plantain and of course, lots of herbs in the walled garden. My favourite is hops which grow on the west wall by the lavender beds. I first tried hop tea a few weeks ago and I haven’t slept so soundly ever since I’ve had Zeca. Then I read that it was part of the cannabis family.

The Outdoor kitchen we called it and that stage deserves a second mention

The Outdoor kitchen we called it and that stage deserves a second mention

 We had a table for book browsing, a table for the stove and food preparation, a table for the teas and a table for drawing plants and making triangles for bunting.

Chopping apples

Chopping apples

 We started chopping the apples and asking people if they had any jam making experience they could lend us.

Getting the storm kettle going

Getting the storm kettle going

 We used the storm kettles to boil water for the tea. It was hard work sometimes because some of the sticks we picked up from the park were a bit green. I like getting a feel for which sticks burn well, which ones are more brittle, which ones are more bendy. We did a lot of blowing to keep the flames going.

Stirring on stage

Stirring on stage

 I love this photo and that red in the pot and that white dress.  We boiled the jam for over 20 minutes but it wasn’t always boiling furiously. When the wind picked up the flame decreased.

Jam splattering bubbling cauldron deep red

Jam splattering bubbling cauldron deep red

 Here, it’s boiling quite well and frothing up.

Decanting jam into jars

Decanting jam into jars

 We filled about 6 jars.

Finger that's just been licked

Finger that's just been licked

 And the pot was there for anyone to dip their fingers in.

Bread made in the Park to eat with our jam

Bread made in the Park to eat with our jam

 So, when the bread was ready, we brought the jam over.

Raw food salad, the flasks, apples, fresh ginger beer & some children

Raw food salad, the flasks, apples, fresh ginger beer & some children

 Other people had brought produce from their allotments and homemade ginger beer. Lots of apples too.

There was a lot of hungry people digging in

There was a lot of hungry people digging in

 

The Jam was a bit runny but it tasted good on the bread. A pregnant woman asked me about three times to buy a pot of jam and I kept saying no so we had enough for the picnic and to try again after if we had some left over. We did and she bought a jar but the jar I took home with me had gone off a few days later and I realised that the jars hadn’t been sterilised. Ooops and apologies to that lady! (the jam would have been fine on the day, don’t worry about that all of you who ate it, it just won’t keep if the jars aren’t sterilised).

But it was a great day and it was so nice having a big saucepan on the boil full with a bright, sumptous red liquid. It really drew people in and if we had had the microphone, we could have sung some incantations  – bubble bubble boil and set please.

As the autumn sets in, I want to find increasing opportunities for eating and cooking outside.

Thanks to Sarah for all the connections, Jasmin, Clara, Michelle and Adam for all their support on the day.