The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Being ready for fruit season.

Monday we were talking about getting ahead. One of my favorite ways to get ahead is fruit season in summer. For years I have made sure everyone I know is aware I love to make jam, pies etc and I will pick fruit and return some jars of jam to them. Also I have made friends when I have seen a fruit tree dropping fruit all over the ground and gone and asked if it would be alright if I picked it. So word is out! And one way or another every year I am blessed with lots of free fruit.

We also had a wonderful apricot tree when we moved here. Garden Del commented that she has an Apricot tree and I have been thinking about that! We lost our tree to a disease and I am so upset.
Having a fruit tree is so wonderful. And a huge asset. I look at it like this. We are trying to get ahead with our pantries and financially. A fruit tree equals money. It equals a whole row of jam or preserves in your pantry. You are not buying fruit and you can save that money. You can fill your freezer with pies, muffins, cakes and stewed fruit for winter.
You can shower people with the gift of a pie, jam and fresh fruit. It could also be a gift for a birthday.
When the church or school fete comes up you have jars of lovely jam to donate. You are ahead there too!
You have jars of jam towards hampers at Christmas.
I look at it that the tree of fruit might be worth $200. Bonus! But when you make it into things you might greatly increase this.

At our local store a homemade apricot pie is around $35. They look amazing and sell like hot cakes.
I could easily make ten of those. Thats $350.
I could make 20 jars of jam. At $3 a jar thats another $60.
A few dozen muffins for the freezer. According to local prices thats another $100 or so.
I can also use this as an opportunity to thank people. A man down the street often sweeps the whole strip including past us. I can use this as a chance to thank him and take down an apricot slice.
The girls would get a week of free fruit.
The money saved all year from that fruit, the gifts and donations I can use it for so many other things...
And so it goes.
Can you see how the value adds up and up?

I would watch out apricot tree like a hawke. As soon as bird pecks started on the fruit I started picking. The entire dining room floor would be covered in apricots!

Whether it's fruit from your own tree or from somewhere else it tends to come all at once and be a very busy time. Truly, it can overwhelm you. Time can run out and the fruit can spoil. It really is a window of opportunity that you have. But it can really get you ahead. You can turn that fruit into such an asset.
Now this also applies to any time you might get a lot of any produce. Being ready helps.

Last year I had about 40 kilos of peaches in two days. It was bliss. But some was very ripe and I had to work fast. Luckily I was ready. Being ready makes all the difference!

So at this time of year I know in another month or so this season will start for me. These are the things I do to be ready that help me get it all done and waste none. (this is the way I get ahead for the busy time of dealing with all this fruit!)

Firstly all year I collect jars.  I like to make lots of jam as jam is useful for so many things, including gifts. I let people know too that I collect jars. When you have a kitchen full of fruit you really don't have time to go looking for jars and you don't want to have to buy them. So collect, collect.

I tend to save pretty jars and smaller ones to use as gifts so I have a stash as those as well...

Have all your jars cleaned. This all saves a lot of time when you are busy.
I save up jam toppers, labels, tags etc. They are all ready. Although I will not start labeling and prettying jars up until all the fruit is dealt with as you have time for that later...

Knowing this season is coming I am having a freezer challenge. I want room to put away and freeze pies, stewed fruit, crumbles, cakes and muffins.

I will make sure I have packets of frozen pastry. While I should make my own pastry I don't. I watch for specials and save up packets so I can make quick pies in big numbers. This helps me a lot. The price of homemade pies makes me realize they are beautiful, suitable for guest and gifts too!

I save up sugar ready for jam making. I put away quite a few bags. Coming up closer I will also get lemons as jam always sets if you squeeze half a lemon into it.

Knowing I will be making pies I have a whole stack of pie plates. You can also have some foil ones for pies to give away as gifts. You do not want to be out of pie dishes just when you have the change to make half a dozen.

I will also make cobblers and crumbles. So I store up flour and have spare butter ready in the fridge.

During the year I also try and collect ideas and recipes and plan what I could do with this fruit. I want to make the most of it. The more gifts it can give me the better. This year I found this picture that I think is lovely...

So I have been saving up fabric scraps and vintage spoons which I have been paying about 20c so I can copy this!

I liked the look of this peach crumble cake so I will be trying that...

All of these things mean I can get busy on the fruit and not be fluffing around collecting everything I need. That bit is done. I am ahead!

Whatever you like to make and however you like to preserve get as much ready to go as possible. It will help you manage much better and get more done.

You also can buy time and waste less if you deal with what comes in with a little system. Right away wash everything. I spread fruit out on an old sheet or towel so I can see what needs using right away through to what may not be fully ripe yet. Some can go into the fridge and this slows down ripening. So it might mean I only have to deal with a bit today and can use up some each day until it's done. This makes it much more manageable.

We will also be eating fresh fruit and using it in our meals. Last year I made nectarines into a beautiful salad with rocket and feta. So we use lots in fresh ways as well.

A bit of planning and organization means you can turn a windfall into some serious assets that will help you for the whole year. What could be better?

Next week I will go onto recipes and the things you can make. You can make small batches of jam in the microwave and it only takes about half an hour. I have been known to be making jam as I cook dinner. Small batches still amount to a row of jars if that suits you better.
Fruit from one tree can put you ahead in your budget by hundreds of dollars. It is amazing. And it isn't hard.

I truly hope you will be blessed with fruit this summer and it becomes a great help to your pantry and budget. Get ready now and start planning. It is such a happy time to have abundance and the chance to make it benefit you for a whole year ahead. True happiness! xxx


  1. I love all the gorgeous things you make with fruit, Annabel! I am hoping that I will have peaches this year, before the possums and birds get them, and I will be able to make lots of pies and slices too xx Fiona

    1. Dear Fiona,
      We had a possum problem with the apricot tree. We set up a sensor light that came on for a minute if a possum came into the tree. It solved the problem instantly! Then I only had to watch daily for the birds. Once they peck a few I start picking... this worked. I think birds ended up with about five apricots. So good luck! I hope the fruit is a big asset to you. With love

  2. Dear Annabel, this is a truly useful post for me. As you know, we have only just planted our fruit trees, but there are many of them. This reminded me that I've made no preparations at all, beyond planting the trees and watering them! I think we're a year or two away from the sort of abundance you're describing, but that means I have a year or two to save jars, make toppers, collect little spoons and so on. It's something I hadn't even considered yet, but if I start now, then as you say, I'm ahead when the time comes. A really valuable post, thankyou so much. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, Fruit trees are the best investment! I think you have had Mangoes at times and I have thought wow! as they spare exotic to me and expensive. I hope some fruit hauls come your way in the meantime as I know you would make the most of them. I am being very hopeful about summer fruit...thinking positive! With love,

  3. Dear Annabel, what a gem of a post! Thanks so much for explaining how you go about processing your fresh food bounty. You always have such wonderful ideas! I love the personally labelled jam with the vintage spoon. I will have to keep a look out for those gorgeous spoons!

    Vegetables are also often a summer bounty. Whether home grown or from someones glut of produce. Freezer space after Christmas is another thing I will consider planning ahead for. It is often full of leftovers and (hopefully) markdowns right after Christmas I find! :-)

    1. Dear Kaye, Thank you! Yes the cute spoon just made it lovely I thought. Love little ideas like this!
      I have the same after Christmas issue with turkeys, hams etc. I am trying to make plenty of room! In a pinch I can also use Mums freezer which might save me. That is very lucky. After Christmas is a time of massive bargains for me. Hope you are having a great week, With love,

  4. Annabel, Hannah told me this morning we have apples on our apple tree already! I wasn't sure we'd get any this year, it was covered in blossom and absolutely glorious then we had days of strong wind and rain and it all ended up on the lawn. I love that apple tree, it saves us a fortune in fruit every year. I make crumbles, pies, stewed apple, apple sauce, dried apple, I bottle some and freeze some. And then I can use it all year round. I have 7 packs of apple left in the freezer, so the timing is perfect, when they're gone the new apples will be ready to pick and I can't wait. I just love working in the kitchen, stocking our pantry and freezer with good food for my family.

    That peach crumble cake sounds divine, please share the recipe once you've made it :)

    1. Dear Cath, Oh I hope the apple tree produces plenty despite the bad weather. I think apples may be the most useful fruit of all.
      I will post the crumble cake if I like how it turns out. Last year the best thing I made was a crumble from very soft peaches. Truly it was divine. I had never used peaches in a crumble... one of the ladies suggested it. It was amazing. Will be doing that again!
      With love,

  5. Annabel you have me drooling - no fruit around here but I am going to be keeping my eyes open and when things are a good price I will pick some up.

    Have a great week this week.


    1. Dear Lynette, I imagined mangoes, avocado;s pineapple even up your way. I hope some come to light for you. QLD always sounds so exotic to me!
      Enjoy your quiet days! With love,

  6. Thankyou Annabel, you make it sound even more exciting than Christmas! One thing we need to get done in the next few weeks is to get a permanent net over our apple trees. They are such a blessing and they must be latish ones because they keep so well on the tree so long as the parrots don't get them. We have been lucky enough to have been given the materials to do it.
    We have a very small house so being able to "store" the apples on the tree is good for us. We manage to eat them off the tree for about 2 months (just one apple a day each though I'm pretty sure the kids don't stick to that). I love that we don't buy fruit in that time. These were 3 trees that my uncle bought me for $5 each on clearance.
    I love the sound of the tropical fruit - oh, yum,yum. As an young adult I lived near Proserpine where we could buy the most beautiful watermelon for 5c a kilo. Just about lived off them.

    1. Dear Garden Del,
      I think apples are one of the most useful fruits ever. ie they are sweet and savory. I love apples with pork and do whole ones with the vegetables, just yum. How wonderful you dont need to buy fruit all that time!
      Your Uncles $5 trees turned out very well!
      The netting sounds fabulous. What a help! With love,

  7. I love fruit season as much as you do Annabel. I have a book called 'Microwave Bottling', by Isabelle Webb. There is an updated version of this with slightly different title. It's fantastic for quickly turning small amounts of excess fruits into wonderful pantry produce.. The recipes are easy and made using what you have. Have fun.

    1. That is one of my favourite books! I use it all the time. Just a few weeks ago I was given a box of tomatoes and yes, they were processed straight away a la Isabel! It's hard to find though - I bought mine from Big W about 7 years ago. The updated version is called "5-Minute Microwave Bottling" by Isabel Webb. Paperback, red cover.

  8. Annabel ive never made jam before or preserved anything, except garlic beetroot and we love that. Its definitely on my do to list to learn how to preserve ect. I love this post and will be waiting patiently for the next one xoxo

    1. Dear Karen, next week I will give you some really easy recipes. The microwave way of making small batches of jam is so easy that once you do it once you won't be able to stop.
      I have to say the garlic beetroot sounds beautiful! All these things make such lovely gifts too. I will be thrilled if you feel you can give jam a go from my post! With love,

    2. I'll be looking forward to your next post Annabel, im very keen to learn all about preserving and jam making. The garlic beetroot was my hubbies invention lol
      The last time he pickled some beetroot and he just added a half of a garlic clove , you dont need much but it make a huge difference and everyone loved it xo

  9. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful ! I love your enamel dishes Annabel. They are my favourite ones to cook in. What a great idea to have extras.
    Thank you for all the lovely photos to illustrate and inspire us. Love Helen

    1. Dear Helen, Tahank you! I love the dishes to. Dad has always been very fond of enamelware. Now I love it too. The dishes I too are Jamie Oilver, I knew you would like them. The best thing is they all stack and take up no room to have many spares. I hope you get your Mangoes and Avocados this season. Isn't it fantastic to have such abundance!?

  10. Annabel, thank you for such an informative post.
    We live in a fairly new area (ie small blocks, little or no trees, even fewer fruit trees, unfortunately), so my best bet is the local family run fruit stall. They often have large bags of in season fruit for little dollars.
    I was wondering if there was any trick to freezing pies/pastry once cooked. Does the pastry remain "crispy"?
    Thanks again, Janine

    1. Dear Janine, This is a good question. I will try and include it in the next post. I cook the pie , cobblers or crumbles until lightly browning. At that point that's enough. So really they are a bit under done. Then when cold freeze and wrap well. When I want to use them I thaw them and this time cook until golden and looking perfect. This way they don't end up over cooked or too dark. Like this no one would ever tell they had been frozen. They work really well. In winter these are really good!
      Also with fruit stalls etc you can always say you make jam or whatever rand do they have any seconds? Often you might end up with amazing produce for very little as stall holders might rather sell cheaply what hasn't sold than throw it out. Last minute before lack up time at markets etc is a good time for this.
      Anyway yes pastry will be crispy and lovely when you cook and thaw pies raise way. I hope that helps. With love,

    2. Thank you, and my DH thanks you too - apple pies are his favourite.

  11. Great post! I am in love with fruit trees too and ours are a constant concern for me. This year they should produce fruit (but with all our rain we tend to have fungus issues, etc!) and all I can talk about are the jams and pies I will make . I think hubby thinks me crazy with all my talk. I love being prepared too and your images are so inspiring. I also made up this chart where I log in recipes I see for what fruits during the year so that I am ready to work when harvest hits. I call it my food preservation planner:

    Have a lovely week! :)

    1. Thank you Jes! You are the same as me. This is exciting to me and a big opportunity!
      Thank you for the link! I love your printables. In fact I am printing the bookmarks and will show you how they turn out.They are lovely!
      I hope you have good crops of fruit and no weather issues! With love and thanks,

  12. Hi Annabel, what a beautiful and exciting post. I am so interested in learning how to make jam and other preserves, and I love fruit based cakes and desserts, so I will also be patiently waiting to read and learn more from you on this! What type of jars should we be saving/collecting? Do they have to have a particular type of lid or anything? On another note, I have finished sewing the pillow cases that I'm going to give my nieces & nephews for Christmas, yay! I would love to show you them, as you inspire me so much. What is the best way for me to get a photo of them to you? Cheers, Kelly

    1. Dear Kelly,
      I would love to see your pillowcases. You can post them on Bluebirds Facebook page or email me at either is fine. Also let me know if its ok to show everyone!
      Save any jars, they will all be handy. Smaller ones are great for gifts of jam. You can use cellophane tops on jams and don't need lids. But if you have lids keep those too. Next week I'll post my easy jam method and versatile and easy fruit pies and deserts that freeze. Truly they are easy and yum! Save some pie dishes or get some foil ones if you need to as the. You can freeze pies and not run out of dishes.
      I can't wait to see your photos! With love,

  13. Dear Annabel,

    I love your jar collection. Your pictures are truly inspiring as are your posts.

    I've been wanting to make some preserves to use up frozen berries and frozen juice from our previous house garden. We need the room in the freezers to take advantage of sales this time of year, so you are my inspiration to do a "use up what is in the freezers," challenge and to get my preserves going.

    Your blog is so helpful to so many people and you are a true blessing. You are very much appreciated.

    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you so much for your encouragement as always. It is wonderful having a full freezer but then we have to use it and let there be room for more good things to come in. Its always as challenge! I am doing ok as I used up some more stuff yesterday. I hope you are having a good week! With love,

  14. I have only recently found your blog, and I wanted to say what an inspiration you are.

    The gfts you make are just wonderful and so pretty, and now you are making yourself ready for the fruit season.

    I live in England, so our fruit season is finished for this year and our garden has been put to bed. I have some very dear friends who have an allotment and they kindly give us their surplus fruit and veg, for which I am very grateful. I love making jam, bottling pickled beetroot and pickled onions.

    I usually make a lot of crumble mix and keep it in a Lock and lock box in the refridgerator for when I need it.

    Thank you once again

    Marie x

    1. Dear Marie,
      Thank you! I am thrilled to have an English follower. The US girls are in the same situation having just been covering their roses and digging things in. I am not familiar with all of this as we dont even get any snow!
      It is a wonderful idea to keep crumble mix on hand. I love crumbles! In the US they say Crisps. That is how I came to make peach crumble.. I saw Peach Crisp and wondered what it was? I read the recipe and it was like apple crumble except with peaches. It was so good!
      Thank you so much for commenting! With love,

  15. All good information for next summer here. We are pretty much down to the end of the apple crop now and winter is fast coming.

    For anyone with a bread machine with a jam setting-it is so easy to make jam this way. Load it and push the button and let it make the jam! Mine does a wonderful job of it.

    1. Dear Lana,
      Thanks for this. I have heard of bread machines that make jam. Sounds fantastic to me. In fact it would be worth having a bread machine just for that!
      I will mention this next week so everyone is reminded of this.
      I hope you had a good apple crop. Apples are so useful for so many recipes, sweet and savory. With love,

  16. Annabel,
    I love those pans! This is a great post, planning ahead ensures we are ready and don't have to run back and forth to the stores last minute. I have a big tub full of canning supplies. I got many at yard sales from people who didn't care for canning or some given to me from someone's relative passing. And I agree put it out there that you will use fruits or nuts or produce and most are happy to not see things go to waste. I get a lot of berries during the summer this way. I love how you show the potential savings because many don't think in terms of a dollar value when making things at home. Also anyone that has babies can make baby food for their little one. Or dehydrate some for a crunchy snack for the littles. Christmas gifts, lunches, desserts, snacks, baby food , pureed fruit as cake filling or homemade fruit leather the possibilities are many!

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I love your ideas and things you do. Getting jars that way is wonderful. People discard them and I have seen whole canning sets in op shops and garage sales, boxes of jars etc... heavenly!
      And you reminded me of baby food! (smacking myself) as cooking up and making puree then freezing portions is something I will be doing for Harper. How healthy and good and a huge saving. I know I worked out my crockpot full of baby food was about a $70 saving over jars of food from the shops. $70 each time is a lot.
      Thank you so much! With love,

  17. Such an important reminder of what is available for food that we normally overlook because we are all so used to just buying items from the grocery store. We could save lots of money just by keeping our eyes open and being observant as to what is growing for 'free'. Now I'm inspired to grab those frozen cherries from my freezer and make more jam. I'm interested in reading about the jam made in the microwave!

    1. Dear Joy,
      Next week I will explain about the microwave jam. It is perfect for small batches ie a couple of pounds or less.
      I am always amazed how much fruit I see and how many people waste the lot. Different areas and climates are different of course but if we keep our eyes open and are not afraid to ask it can really pay off!
      Cherry jam would be just beautiful. Fabulous color too! With love,

  18. Dear Annabel, I agree, this is a great post! Like Vicky, most of my canning jars are hand-me-downs! I use jars for storing lots of dried goods as well as canning.

    Today, I made my fruit cakes for Christmas and used my own dried fruits! It's such a blessing to have. We are having cold temps., so having the oven on for a while was nice! I soak the fruit in wine and fruit juice instead of water and this adds more flavor to the cakes!

    I, too, am trying to use food from the freezer to make room for an extra ham or two. Turkeys are expensive this year so hopefully closer to the holidays they will come down in price.

    Vicky, I'm glad you mentioned baby food as a way to use fresh fruit and produce! I did this with all three of our kids. It saves a ton of money and is much better for baby!! :)

    Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone! Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri,
      Im glad Vicky mentioned that too. Ill put it into next weeks post. I will be making puree for Harper and hopefully freezing many months supply.
      It is wonderful you could make fruit cakes with your own dried fruits! That is fantastic. I bet they will be beautiful. I soak my fruit in sherry or whiskey. You are right this adds a lot and preserves the cakes much longer also. Yum.
      With love and thanks,

    2. Annabel and Teri,
      If I tried to make fruitcake I would end up on the kitchen floor LOL! My boys always liked homemade baby food much better and the fruits or fruit purees are great to top their oatmeal or yogurt. Or homemade popsicles or fruit sorbet all much better than store bought.

  19. Great post again Annabel. Made me go outside and water my fruit trees. They were very neglected and since my partner pruned them last year when we first moved here and again this year, they are really coming back. There are fruit on several now. The mandarins are sweetening too which is great. Still not sure what to do with the cumquats though. Looking forward to the next post, but most of all I think I"m looking forward to the January Christmas Club thingy you are doing. Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona, It is wonderful you have fruit trees and they sound beautiful. The cumquats make good marmalade I know although I am not a marmalade eater people who love it seem to really love it.
      I spied the peaches on the trees that I hope to get the fruit from today and they are about the size of golf balls. Last year they were ripe mid January so I am hoping I am going to be allowed to have them and they are as good as the last lot.... it is three trees and HUNDREDS of them. Being hopeful... Hope you are having a good week! With love, Annabel.xxxx

  20. Hi Annabel. Back again from holidays and catching up on everyone's blogs. I have been inspired by Tania's hubby making the solar dehydrator and hope to have one of them on the go this summer to dry some of our fruit. Well, the fruit that the birds and possums leave for us anyway :-)

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      Welcome back! I hope you had a lovely time. From the pictures it looked beautiful!
      I am so impressed with that dehydrator! I am asking Andy to make me one. I think Tania is posting more pictures which will help. Her husband is really good at things like this. It makes total sense here in Australia with our heat.
      We set up a sensor light on the fruit tree when it is fruit season. This fixes the possum problem. However there are still birds to beat. But we have a lot of possums and without the sensor light I think we would have no fruit.
      All things going well I will have fruit and a solar dehydrator!
      Have a lovely weekend (and Friday!) with love, Annabel.xxxx

  21. After reading your post and also Mimis I went and scrounged through the fridge and saved those tired strawberries
    You are very inspiring and now have me counting the saved jars under the sink and thinking about using them. The thing that stops me is not being sure about how to sterilise them for use. Regards Julie D

    1. Dear Julie,
      Firstly I use cellophane squares and rubber bands as basic jam tops. I get them ready ahead of time ready to use.
      Have your jars clean and washed. I put all my jars through the dish washer. Place them in your oven when the oven is still cold. You can fit a lot in even stack them. Turn the oven on to fairly hot and let it heat up properly. Turn off and let cool. Your jars are now sterilized. Pour hot jam into the jars and seal. You do need to sterilize jars for long term keeping. If you plan to use jam in the next couple of weeks then clean jars are ok too. I hope that helps. It is so good to be able to make things into jam or relish. Its yummy! Also there are so many uses for jam... I will post about that next week, it makes many many good things! With love,

  22. I missed summer this past year pretty much, but my mom very graciously stocked my freezer with some of the vegetables and such that I'd normally have put up for my household. I thought it a kind and generous gift on her part because she is aware of doing things in season.

  23. Great advice Annabel!

    I will have apricots just before Chirstmas and nectarines in the middle of January. So you are right, I should be getting organised now.

    That peach crumble looks nice :)


  24. Hi Annabel,

    I'm a bit overwhelmed with everything I saw and read in this post - in a positive way but very emotional. I just want to sit beside my mom and tell her about what you do. It's not possible as she lives in another country. I visited her recently but I already miss her presence more than I can say.

    I just want to tell you I love you so much - not for what you share with us, inspiring us to do more or anything else, but you as a person. I want to hug you right now but that too is not possible, so I'm sending my heartfelt love and warm wishes your way.

    Thanks a million for being there for us and everything you do for us.

    1. Dear Millie,
      Thank you for your beautiful message. I think you are missing your Mum a lot. Can I ask where are you located and where does she lve also? That would be hard but I am glad of communication now so that even though we are in different countries we can be friends.
      Thank you so much for commenting and such kind words! With love,

  25. This was a great post to share at Five Star Frou-Frou Annabel. Thanks. Mimi xxx

  26. I love this post, as always. :)

    I started preparing for canning season ahead of time last year. I found it really helped when those busy, almost-overwhelming days came along. Another tip is to clean out the pantry, organize everything, check for low supplies of things you'll need (do you have enough lids? are your bands rusty? do you need new ones?). Then I go get them while I don't have any fruit to can,

    I also deep clean the kitchen, including the fridge, freezer, cabinets (if I have time) etc. It always brings up ideas to save time during that busy season and gets me set.

    I've only had partial success with putting the word out that I'd pick what no one wanted. I got about 27 pounds of blueberries from 3 different sources that way, but that was all I have been able to do. And blueberries are so easy because you just lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze. Then pop them in ziplock and done!

    I'll keep trying to spread the word. Maybe it will eventually work a little better for me.

    I love the idea of the cute little spoons with the jams. I have not settled on an idea I like for prettying my jams.


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