The pleasure of a glut

Every grower of vegetables will know about gluts. One moment you are anxiously waiting for your new crop, watching every day to see if you can pick something, cherishing your tiny carrots, your courgette flowers, your nascent beans, and bringing them to the table with butter and due ceremony. The next you are staring at vast piles of cucumber, yet more courgettes, tomatoes by the bucketload, beans which turn from tasty and tender tiddlers to huge coarse monsters overnight.

I can see it can be overwhelming to have baskets of produce coming into the kitchen which you can scarcely use before the replacement basket is sitting accusingly on the worktop, but I love a good glut. Principally this is because I love chutneys and preserves and the whole process of producing shelves of shining jars which will keep you company through the winter.

Just now I am planning a week of preserving (not this week, we are having our strictly no jobs, go out, have fun, pretend you are on holiday week but next week). There are spiced pickled runner beans to be made, and pickled green beans with garlic, both guaranteed to convert the most determined bean hater. There is a courgette chutney, sweet and spicy, and soon there will be a marrow and fresh ginger jam for the courgettes which got away while my back was turned attending to beans. We don't have apples yet, maybe another week or so, but we do have a huge onion crop and we also have cucumbers growing practically as you watch them in the greenhouse. For those I am going to make Thane Prince's Bread and Butter Pickle from her lovely Jams and Chutneys book.

I just need to get out to the shop for malt and cider vinegars and brown sugar and to have a few sweet, sharp and spicy hours in the kitchen.


  1. This sounds delightful, oddly enough! I have just gotten back to preserving food this year, and have canned fish, cherries, and apricots.
    I have a question, though, what are courgettes? From the context, I think they might be a variety of summer squash which is called zucchini here in the US. Would you post a picture, please? Thanks!

  2. Mmmmm - I can just smell your kitchen now - it will be eye-watering but heavenly.
    Now that we have a deer fence I look forward to next year's crop and a glut. Til now all we've ever managed are few deer-nibbled stubs that might have been tomotoes or peas. Can't wait!

  3. You've brought me memories of my long ago Brooklyn garden. I actually grew the veg from seed on that remarkable season.

    Then, in September the zucchini (courgettes) began to rule. That was just when we (boyfriend and I) were to have our first trip to London.

    I deputized others in the brownstone house to harvest the crops before they reached the length of baseball bats. The tomatoes were also scrumptious.

    Over here, chutney is not so popular. I know of no one who has actually made it. Are we missing out on something wonderful?


  4. Sounds so good! I haven't had good pickled beans since my grandmother passed in '89. She made a green tomato chutney that was heavenly. Happy canning!

  5. It all sounds yummy. I tend to be a glut as well but thats a good thing.

  6. What a simple yet virtuous pleasure Elizabeth. I haven't managed to do this yet. Not one jar of jam - ever. I need to remedy the situation. Have fun!

  7. It sounds that despite the woeful summer that you have a bountiful harvest. Hope that you have fun pickling and preserving. I imagine that there will be some wonderful aromas drifting from your kitchen. Here I am overwhelmed with French beans. There's a limit to how many beans the two of us can eat, so I may well follow your example :) Will have to peruse some recipe books later for inspiration.

  8. How wonderful to have such a harvest! All my veg got some sort of blight, and refused to grow! Ah well, try again another year!

    I'm not a chutney fan, so have never made it, but your pickled beans do sound rather tasty......

  9. PS I love your new header photo!

  10. Those green bean recipes sound interesting. Judging from the flowers and tiny beans on my plants I am about to enter glutland. Is it possible that you could post the recipes - I have never tried doing anything other than freezing beans - the chutney and pickle sounds super. I have just made peach and green grape chutney - if you fancy trying that I will let you have the recipe.

  11. Ooh, I like the idea of the pickled green beans with garlic (last week I picked 11 pounds of the beggers, yesterday I picked even more but I've plucked up courage to weigh them yet - there are only 2 of us in the house to eat them!) Any chance you could post the recipe (or email it? Or even put them in the Coo's recipe section?)

    Also I hadn't realised Exmoorjane had written some about LJ that had been published in the Telegraph until I spotted your Twitter. Good for her!

  12. Oooh, two lovely blogs for the price of one (somehow managed to miss the last one). Loved reading the conversations between generations of your family and the idea of so much pleasure to be taken in such simple things.

    Have to say, though, I don't share your pleasure at a glut. Now is very much the season of gluts here - raspberries, damsons, beans and a big pile of marrows looking at me accusingly from the shelf in the utility room. Trouble is I also seem to have a glut of work and the housework is also piling up accusingly from the other direction.

  13. Dimple - you are right, courgettes are called zucchini in the US.
    Pondside - good luck with the crops now you have your deer fence.
    Frances - chutney is wonderful with cheese or with ham. I will post a recipe so you can have a try if you have time.
    Cathy - green tomato chutney is on my list too. Almost tempted to pick them before they ripen on purpose!
    Flowergirl - yes, long live gluts!

  14. Silverpebble - I am sure you would love chutney or pickle making. It is very therapeutic, give it a go!
    Anna - I have a recipe for spiced pickled runner beans that I use when we get overfaced, yummy.
    thanks Gilly, I love echinacea so thought the photo should have an outing.
    Weaver and Mrs Jones - I will post some recipes next time I blog. I am not too keen on frozen beans so much prefer them made them into preserves and have been collecting recipes for years.
    LBD - I am lucky to have the time to do this I know. I am sure that part of the pleasure is the contrast between years of no time at all and the luxury of being able to give a day or two to preserving.

  15. Sadly we have only small gluts here if indeed they are gluts at all and sometimes there are sparsities - or whatever the opposite of a glut is.
    My fingers are not very green. If things grow at all here it is by accident, though not for want of trying, but we have only a very small space. Rhubarb and beans have come in respectable quantities, and black gooseberries, but other produce has to be bought to be pickled.

  16. Re-reading that comment I see it is hopelessly self-indulgent. I do so admire your skills, Elizabeth, and how this giving up work business has resulted in such great creativity on the hill.

  17. I know the feeling - especially the waiting and savouring the first 'baby' vegetables before being overwhelmed. Aren't we lucky really?

    I've begun on the annual jelly-making job and have made tomato sauce for the freezer - a real success last year.

    Plums next I think - the little victoria outside my window is laden - so laden that Alan has made it crutches of forked hazel sticks. Bless.

  18. My new neighbour and now friend, has never gardened in her life yet everything she touches flourishes beyond belief. I, on the other hand, have strived for decades to grow veg and can never really say anything has been extraordinarily successfully. Sums up my theory that I must be Jack of all trades but master of none.

  19. Lovely post Elizabeth and just how I feel about such things. Our early apples are falling rapidly now so bramble and apple butter was on the menu yesterday with wines, etc to follow. x

  20. Way to get my mouth watering...

  21. I quite enjoy making chutney but as none of my family will eat any my gluts end up in the freezer for another day yes even courgettes.

  22. Fennie - not self indulgent at all, it is fascinating to know how other people grow and garden.
    Mountainear - am envious of tomato sauce, ours are not ripe yet, were all a bit late as first sowing failed, maybe later!
    Misted heather - I am convinced it is mainly practice, my fingers have definitely got greener over time
    Pipany - am amazed you have time to chutney as well as sew!
    Edward - if you like chutney we have jars to spare!
    Joanne - can't believe your family don't like it, they don't know what they are missing!

  23. Wonderful, I remember my mother during the weeks of "preservation", she had no time for me then. When I stopped working (for money) I followed in her footsteps but now we don't grow much in the way of vegetables, just soft fruit and berries. It takes me all my time to bottle and preserve them. It is a wonderful time of year.

  24. Was never really any good in the kitchen but a friend has just brought me a basketful of plums and blackberries. Blackberries so soon in the season??? Hope that does not indicate a harsh winter. Anyway best get out the cook book and start preserving so of this fruit.

  25. Not too good in the kitchen when it comes to preserving but a friend has just given me a basketful of plums to I guess I best follow your lead.

  26. QMM - pity you are so far away, there will be plenty of chutney to spare!
    Friko - I love it too. I am even musing about whether to go on a walk and pick some wild damsons, as if I don't have enough up here already.
    Misted heather - go for it! Preserves are really easy, especially chutneys as they don't even need to set, unlike jams.

  27. The trouble is the gluts come altogether and neighbours give you courgettes and tomatoes until they are coming out of your ears! If only that would happen in the winter.

  28. Thank you for visiting my blog and kind comments.
    I am in France at the moment and just about every family seems to be out picking myrtle berries - great buckets of them, and raspberries too. I went for a walk yesterday and din't get far, but ate loads!

    I spend about half the year in Pembrokeshire, the rest in Wiltshire and miss Wales when I am away. I love north Wales too; we were married in the Brynmawr Chapel at Betwys Y Coed.


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