HELEN LANG: From swimsuits to parkas in only a few days

Cooler weather means lots of local fruit and vegetables

Goodness, from swimsuits to parkas in just a day!

It doesn’t seem quite fair and it’s a real shock to the system, but I guess fall is here and its back to porridge in the mornings instead of corn flakes.

Oh well, it had to come, and it will be interesting to get out the warmer clothes and see what is still wearable (not fashionable, just what still fits after a summer of hot dogs, ice cream cones and corn on the cob.)

I love this time of year. Vegetable gardens are full of lovely stuff: new carrots, beets, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, plums and pears. And if you don’t have a vegetable garden, the local farmers do, and often have yummy things on roadside stands for sale at reasonable prices. A trip on the back roads of the Saanich Peninsula is a visit to paradise!

I am seized with the desire to freeze things or bottle them, to make jelly, jam and pickles, but it would be silly wouldn’t it, unless I made them to act as Christmas gifts for friends? And am I that ambitious? Probably not!  But it’s nice to think about, and a lot less exhausting than hanging over a hot stove, stirring, testing, tasting, washing jars, sterilizing them, and finally pouring in the finished product and sealing it. But, oh it is so satisfying to look at those filled jars lining that shelf in the utility room!

There is a Spartan apple tree loaded with fruit that is beginning to drop on the grass that tempts me to go in and ask if I might buy some to make apple sauce, which I could freeze.

Really wonderful apple sauce is made with Gravenstein apples, but they are long over, and other apples make good sauce too so don’t feel you have to wait for next year’s Gravensteins.

I feel it is sinful to let good fruit rot. My mother used to say “think of all those starving children in Africa before you let good food go to waste.”

I feel the same way, but we are spoiled, and it’s easier to buy stuff  in jars or tins, rather than to preserve it ourselves.

Once again let me mention the Sidney Lions Food Bank. I’m pretty sure they would be grateful for any edible fruit or vegetable donations, things that you don’t intend to use. There are always people who would be grateful to get something freshly picked, who don’t have fruit trees, or vegetable gardens.

Meanwhile, I’m off to see those people with the apple tree — applesauce here I come!

Meanwhile a recipe for a pickle that is delicious with both meat or cottage cheese. Its an oldie but a goodie.

B.C. Pickle Recipe

3  B.C. peaches

1 tablespoon plain salt

3 B.C. pears

2 cups white sugar

3 large B.C. onions

2 cups cider vinegar

15 ripe B.C. tomatoes

1 cup pickling spices tied up in a cloth bag

Peel and chop tomatoes, peaches, pears and onions. Put in a large pot and add the rest of the ingredients.

Cook over low to medium heat for two hours, stirring every so often to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

While hot, using a soup ladle, pour into sterilized bottles and cap. They do not need to be sealed.


Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.