Nici Wickes: Preserving Traditions

By Nici Wickes

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The art of bottling summer's bounty is a tangible link to generations of women in Nici Wickes’ family

Resting my hip against the kitchen bench, it's almost palpable, the link from me to my mother and, further back, to my grandmother.

This is a bond forged through the annual practice of preserving. While we're surrounded in the late summer months with produce aplenty, it's also a time to cast one's mind forward to the wintry months ahead, when the sweet, nectar-filled morsels of summer will be a distant memory.

Bottling fruit and making sauces, jams and chutneys. These were once a part of the monthly rhythm of many households. I can recall coming home from school in summer to find the air heavy with the aroma of sugary fruit or pungent with vinegar and my mother and nana, brows beaded in the cramped humid kitchen, putting the last of the lids on the hundreds of jars, wiping each one clean with love and efficiency.

By comparison, my preserving efforts qualify only as mini sessions. I make a few jars at a time with the surplus of tomatoes, eggplants, stonefruit or whatever is dropped on my doorstep or cheap at the markets.

And when the weather cools, I'll pop the lid on a jar of golden peaches or tomato chilli jam and I'll be happy I made the effort to carry on the tradition of preserving.


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