Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 New Year: A is for apple

This year, 2010, I aim to highlight one of the fruits and nuts grown in the Blue Mountains each week. A is for apple, which is the most widely found and bountiful fruit in our bioregion. Apple trees can be found neglected but often thriving in public places and old private lands.
Look out for heritage apples. I used to live in Central Victoria close to Badgers Keep, where pomologists Clive and Margaret Winmill have collected hundreds of old cultivars, which you can read about on the ABC Gardening Australia website, here.
There is an apple arbour at the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens, where our first activity for the year takes place 10.30 am on Saturday 6 February. It is a talk about pests and diseases of Blue Mountains fruit and nut trees.
As with other fruits and nuts, the Horticulture section of the NSW Department of Primary Industries has good, downloadable advice on apples (and other relevant pomes, such as pears).
Recently we had guest to dinner who was avoiding many foods, including dairy and soy products, grains with gluten, and sugar. I adapted the following recipe for apple cake, by substituting the castor sugar with carob and the milk with water (though I thought of trying rice milk). I think it would work equally well with pears though I haven't tried the recipe with them.

Oil a 25 cm springform pan, say with olive (or corn) oil. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.
Peel and thinly slice 500 gm Blue Mountains apples.
Separate 130–140 gm eggs (two large or three small ones) into yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.
Beat the yolks with a whisk and fold in 1/3 cup of rice/buckwheat flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder with 1/4 cup of soy milk. Stir the sliced apples in and mix so they are covered in it.
Add a 1 tablespoon of castor sugar and a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat till soft peaks form. (Have the whites at room temperature and make sure the beaters and bowl are clean so nothing contaminates them.)
Fold the meringue into the other mixture, place into the oiled pan and back for around three-quarters of an hour.
When I am baking a cake like this I always try and fill the oven otherwise I feel it is a waste of energy.

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We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)