The bounty of the land and the fruits of our labour

By Tom Read


This year's fruit crop was especially bountiful. When confronted by large quantities of apples and pears, we made applesauce and pear-ginger marmalade. Those are coriander seeds left of the walnuts, just harvested a few days ago. The backdrop is Linda's favourite apron, a creation of local artist Shelley Thomson.

October is a time of such great food abundance on Texada Island!  Back on October 2nd I wrote about preserving our tomatoes in the form of salsa and how this contributed to feelings of greater self-reliance (“What really matters”). Here at the end of the month I’m struck by how much time and effort we’ve continued to put into preserving and storing food, learning new (for us) techniques along the way. So here’s a brief sampler of October’s epicurean activities and insights:

Walnuts — a mature, quite tall English walnut tree stands on the property of a friend who gave us permission to glean, so we watched and waited until one day a couple weeks ago, when it seemed like the nuts would be ready. Having never harvested walnuts before, I didn’t know what to expect so I brought my long-handled fruit-picker, thinking I might need to pick the nuts. Instead, I found hundreds of them on the ground, most with the outer casings cracked open, and even more fell around me as the wind blew them practically into my basket. A squirrel, unseen but noisy up in the tree, protested my harvest, unmistakably proclaiming his territorial right to these particular nuts.  I walked away with about 20 lbs, leaving easily as much behind for the wildlife.

Better applesauce — Linda found several recipes on the Internet that allows us to skip the tedious peeling step in making applesauce. Since we gleaned the apples from a friend’s trees, we know they’re free of toxic chemicals common in store-bought apples. This makes it safe to leave the skins on the apples, removing only the core before grinding and cooking with just a bit of added sugar and lemon juice. Leaving the skins on the apples results in slightly more colour and definitely a more nutritious sauce because much of the fiber and nutrients of the apple are contained in the skin. This smooth, full-bodied sauce tastes wonderful, too.

Pumpkin seed pesto — As mentioned in an earlier post on “Seed-saving adventures,” this year we grew “Styrian” heritage pumpkins as part of a regional seed-saving project. This variety is known for its easily edible seeds. Our seeds got planted a little late, in a spot that probably wasn’t quite sunny enough, so the pumpkins never fully ripened. Fortunately the seeds still matured to a deep green, and they taste quite good, so we roasted some with a little olive oil on their way to becoming an ingredient in a memorable pesto sauce. The light orange flesh of the pumpkin made a very good soup, too.

By all accounts it’s better to use seeds from ripe pumpkins for starting a new crop, so I’m not sure how these will fare when I plant them next year. Until we see the results, I’m holding off distributing any Styrian seeds back among the regional seed-savers.

Pear-ginger marmalade — Ok, so we cheated and used imports from far away: ginger root, oranges, and lemons. Combined with locally-gleaned pears, the results are quite wonderful. It took us about three hours yesterday to make this special treat, so here’s the recipe, with our modifications and subsequent results:


¼ cup ginger root; chopped fine

3 medium oranges; cut in half and juiced, seeds removed, chopped

2 lemons; cut in half and juiced, seeds removed, chopped

(If fruit is small, as what we find at our local market, use twice as much)

All of the lemon juice and half the orange juice from above *

10 – 12 cups pears; pealed, cored and medium chopped

6 cups sugar **

1 package low-sugar pectin

2 tbs butter, an option which decreases foaming


Use a large kettle, enameled or stainless steel. A food processor can be used for chopping ingredients (pears, lemon and orange peel, ginger) rather than doing it all by hand, it you’ve got the tool and are so inclined.

Combine all ingredients except the sugar and pectin in the kettle and stir well. Then stir in the pectin, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn down to avoid boil-over, and add all the sugar, stirring until it’s all dissolved in the fruit mixture. Bring back to a rolling boil and hold it for one minute. Skim foam (a taste treat); let sit 5 minutes, then ladle into hot, sterile canning jars with ¼” headspace and process 10 minutes in a hot-water bath. This recipe should give you about 6-7 pints.

* The cooks get to drink the rest of the orange juice as a refresher after all that hard work peeling and chopping!

** We find this marmalade plenty sweet with four cups of sugar, but some canning purists will say that’s not enough. You decide.


1 Response to “The bounty of the land and the fruits of our labour”

  1. 1 margaret November 2, 2009 at 13:02

    Your preserve look delicious. I had plans of making pear ginger preserve but opted for a pear mincemeat instead.
    Lucky you don’t have to fight the bears for the nuts like we do here in Wildwood. You have to wait for the nuts to fall and one they fall air dry them for a few weeks. I believe nuts, if left in the shell, last for a long time.

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