As any gardener will tell you, you win some, you lose some. Everyone has at least one growing disaster every year, as well as one crop that does spectacularly well. Looking back on previous years, though, it’s the successes that stick in your mind – largely because of the sheer quantity. This year my patch has been terrible for peppers, but brilliant for apples and onions. I have about 40kg of onions curing in the polytunnel at the moment, and I dare not even guess the weight of the apples from our little orchard.
This is where Making the Most of your Glorious Glut – cooking, storing, freezing, drying and preserving your garden produce by Jackie Sherman (Green Books 2011) comes into its own. A quick look in the index, and I can choose from apple cordial, bread, fritters, four juice recipes and lots more. In fact, there are forty apple recipes all together, plus instructions on how to dry apples on a very small scale. As you might expect, the emphasis is firmly on cook-from-scratch healthy food with an absolute minimum of processed ingredients, and I was only able to find one mention of produce being used out of season (tomatoes paired with broad beans: I suspect the author actually uses a tin of tomatoes but couldn’t bring herself to say so).
The recipes themselves are simple, unfussy and easy-to-follow, which makes them perfect for cooks of any ability. If I have a grumble about this book, it’s that Glut is all about “using up” surplus produce as if it were something to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. If, like me, your aim is to provide as much of your family’s food as possible all year round, you also need to find ways of storing some of the excess rather than consuming it as quickly as possible. It’s here that Glut’s content looks a little thin.
With more than three-quarters of the book devoted to an impressive array of recipes, actual storage methods have been given very little elbow room. The book is simply not aimed at people who want to do this, which makes the choice of strap line (cooking, storing, freezing, drying and preserving your garden produce) somewhat misleading. Glut inexplicably misses the existence of gadgets like dehydrators and apple peeler/corer/slicers, which make dealing with sizeable gluts so much easier.
All in all, Making the Most of your Glorious Glut is a good book of seasonal, vegetable-based recipes that is worthy of a space on your kitchen shelf – but a cookery book, none the less. If it’s information on the arts of storing, freezing, drying and preserving that you’re looking for, this book is not for you.