Sunday, 26 February 2017

Moving Chickens




HenSafe Chickens

It’s time to sow seeds and I need the polytunnel back. No alternative but to move the chickens under cover outside. It’s still within the DEFRA rules so we are OK. Luckily the fruit cage netting isn’t in use so we draped it over an old tent frame and weighted it down with bricks. That combined with the lamb hurdles and some old scaffold netting saw the job done. They’re definitely not happy birds though – being able to see the grass and not get to all of it must be really frustrating.
Now to clean up the polytunnel. It took a good day’s work to move all the extra equipment out, put the soil back into the beds and hose it all down before moving all the horticultural gear back in. What a mess...you wouldn’t believe the dust! No slugs though haha!
HenSafe polytunnel

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Seville Orange Marmalade


A couple of weeks ago I made this year's marmalade from some delicious Seville oranges. After trawling recipe books, internet, friends and family this is the recipe I have stuck with. It comes highly recommended from my sister-in-law and now also from me, so here goes!

Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble....


Ingredients ratio:
Use 1.5Kg Seville oranges to 3Kg sugar and 1.5Kg water, plus 2 lemons.


The magic recipe:
Scrub the oranges and boil in the water for 1.5 to 2 hours or until the fruit is soft when poked with a knife point, then let it all cool. Take the oranges out and cut them in half, saving the juice in a bowl and scraping out all the insides into a different bowl. A teaspoon does this job very well. Cut the peel into whatever size you want and keep it for later on. Heat up the same water and add the sugar. You may need to add a bit more water to have enough to dissolve the sugar. Do not boil it yet! (Now is a good time to put a couple of plates into the freezer for testing setting point.) Take the pot of orange-insides and push it through a sieve into the solution, add the orange juice and the chopped peel plus the juice from your 2 lemons. Boil it all up until setting point is reached (105 degrees Celsius, 220 degrees Fahrenheit) and while this is happening put your clean jars into the oven to warm up.
Let the marmalade cool a little and add a knob of butter if there's scum on the top. Stir it in and the scum will disappear. Now you can start filling the jars with a ladle or a jug, lid them up while hot and label. 

HenSafe Smallholding Seville Orange Marmalade
Ready for Labelling

Learnings:
  • Don’t add too much water at the second stage when dissolving the sugar or you’ll be boiling it for ages to get to setting point.
  • Fill some smaller jars and use pretty labels to keep as presents for friends and family.
  • It always takes longer than you think it will!