The children are settled back at school and the summer holidays are a distant memory. There are acorns and conkers on the ground and the leaves have started to turn from green to beautiful burnt shades. We are now well into the season of Autumn.
In the New Forest this brings about the Pannage season. I hadn’t even heard of this until I moved from the East of Southampton to the West. This ancient custom is when the Commoners exercise their right to release pigs into the New Forest to eat the acorns. This creates a double positive effect by removing acorns from the food chain of the horses and cows, a poisonous food source for these animals, and it creates the sought after Pannage Pork. You could try the following local suppliers of this uniquely flavoured pork: Hockey’s Farm Shop, The Farmers Butcher, Pondhead Farmshop, Lisa’s Larder. I am keen to take my children into the Forest to try to find some foraging pigs this year. I’ve yet to try Pannage Pork but I’ve heard it compared to Iberico ham so I know I’d just love it!
For those who like to spend their time on the water, Autumn brings with it the chance to undertake repairs and to prepare their boat before the potential freezing winter weather is upon us. Seadub provides a comprehensive list on their website of checks and maintenance that they would recommend yacht owners to undertake. A very useful online resource is Practical Boat Owner and they have a Lay up for winter checklist.
Among many other less fun things, my current to do list has pear jam on it. I am a relative novice when it comes to jams and jellies. The garden of the house that we currently live in has coerced me into it with its abundance of loganberries, blackberries (cultivated if you don’t mind) and pear trees. I have managed a few jars each year and I have to say that I was amazed at how easy it was the first time I undertook it as I had it in the pretty difficult box. I prefer loganberry jelly to jam as I find the seeds a bit awkward so I have taken to pressing warmed berries through a sieve with a spoon before starting to make the jelly. In prior years I have made blackberry and pear jam but the blackberries were finished well before the pears were ready this year. So far I have just enjoyed eating the pears – picking them approximately a week beforehand. Pears are one of the few fruits that are best picked before they are ready to eat. If you lift the fruit to horizontal then it will release at the top of the stalk if it is ready to be picked. If you leave it for much longer than this then it will become woody. There is a great quick and simple recipe here for making blackberry jam if you can find any bushes still bearing fruit.
We’re looking forward to the end of October when we can carve some pumpkins and watch some fireworks. I am pretty sure that our children will then have Christmas permanently on their minds soon after that! Where are you planning to watch your fireworks?