Yesterday, as we worked outside in the garden, mowed the lawn for the third time this week, and rested under the shade of the mulberry tree, I thought what happened to spring? This is summer weather already.
Thankfully, today spring is back, a rainy wet chilly start to the day followed by gusty blasts that has me indoors working at my desk. The wood stove is getting what might be its last daytime hurrah for a while, and its wetback gurgles comfortingly in the background as it heats our hot water. There are beans in the oven simmering away with tomato, garlic, and smokey spices, and the kettle sits on the side of the stove, ready for a cup of tea at a moments notice.
Spring is my third favourite month, after winter and autumn, so I do feel a little robbed of those balmy spring days. So far this October has been hotter than any December on record. Scary stuff.
From a local eaters point of view, skipping spring straight into summer means that we're enduring the heat, without all the good things that summer brings, like juicy cherries, sweet nectarines, fragrant tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers from the garden. There's no standing over the sink eating a ripe juicy peach, and letting its juices dribble down your chin, to take the sting out of a stifling day. These are the delicious things that for me, makes summer bearable. But now, it's still the hungry patch, and all we've got is rhubarb and meyer lemons and the rose geranium has started to flower.
So here is a spring jam, the first one of the season, a light spring, lemony jam, made fragrant with rose geranium leaves. It's low on sugar and doesn't keep for long. A bit like spring really.
Spring Rhubarb Jam with Rose Geranium
750g rhubarb stalks
100mls meyer lemon juice
3 sprigs of rose geranium
Wash rhubarb and remove the leaves, the tough pale end of the stalk and any snails.
Cut into the rhubarb into pieces about the size of a cork, if anyone can remember what a cork looks like (about 5cm).
Throw the rhubarb into a non reactive bowl, with the sugar and the lemon juice. Toss then cover and allow to sit for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.
Pour the rhubarb mixture and the rose geranium sprigs into a preserving pan, scrape all the juice and sugar clinging to the bowl. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring often until the sugar has dissolved and the juices are running freely. Increase heat to a medium high and bring the rhubarb to a gentle boil. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring often or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove the rose geranium.
Pour into jars, allow to cool and store in the fridge. Best eaten within two weeks or so.
This fresh spring jam is delicious on toast, with yoghurt and granola for breakfast, on ice-cream, or simply eaten out of the jar with spoon, in lieu of a juicy peach eaten over the sink.