We had an idea. We wanted to produce lots of stuff from the fruit we collected (like chutney, jam, apple sauce) to sell: to raise money for Grow Sheffield, and help with the admin costs. Our target was £1000.
We started working it all out. We’d reuse recycled jars, all shapes and sizes. We’d do a proper label for them, so that they looked the part. The label would have space to write the name of the product, and where the fruit came from.
We quickly realised that it would be simpler, this time, just to make the one product: apple chutney. But, because all the apples were different, and different people were in charge of the recipe each time, and sometimes it was a tsp of ginger, and other times a tbsp, and sometimes we put chilies in, and sometimes tomatoes, it never tasted the same twice.
Then the workshops started. Each one went like this: Put the pinnies on. Cut up the apples, clean the jars, peel the labels off, clean them again, cut up the onions, wipe your eyes, tell jokes, laugh, put the jars in the oven to sterilize. Weigh out the rest of the ingredients, put it all in the pan, start to cook it. Wait. Taste it. Wait some more. Taste it again. Spoon it into the jars, wipe the edges clean, screw the lids on tight. As they cool, the air compresses, sucking down the safety button in the lids. Write the labels. Compare handwriting. Clean up, wash the pots, distribute a few jars to the volunteers, turn off the lights, lock the door, go home, tired.
What have we learned? Next year, we need more fruit. We need to clean the jars first, all in one go. And we need to run more workshops, to make more chutney.
What else? The labels look brilliant. Everyone says how amazing the chutney tastes. And two, three, six months later, when you’re still eating it on your sandwiches you can think: we made this, out of waste fruit, in our own time.
Thanks to Polly at the Coop, and Ruth in Crookes, for hosting the workshops, to all the volunteers that helped along the way and Gemma for the lovely photos (www.gemmathorpe.com)