Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chestnut Outing

As planned last Saturday 27 March we visited the Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm at Mount Irvine. There were about 25 of us, including organisers and children and even one purple fairy! We picked lots of chestnuts and then Anne set up her roasting equipment so half of us stayed and enjoyed roasted chestnuts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Katoomba Garden Club

A couple of days ago, on the night of Wednesday 24 March, Lizzie Connor and I spoke to a meeting of the Katoomba Garden Club about the Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree Network. It was great to hear who is growing what and their experiences.

We handed out our new flyer and the following form (the copy below has had the multiple lines removed from after each question 2–5). I thought I'd include it here because local residents can always email me responses through the address. Also for anyone setting up a similar group in their area, this is one direction to go in...

Please fill out this form if you have useful information to add to our database or if you would like to be placed on our e-list for notification of activities etc.

Your name: __________________________________________________________
Your township (include north or south etc.): ________________________________
Email address: ________________________________________________________
Phone number: _______________________________________________________

Please circle points relevant to you and fill out responses below.

1. Please add me to the Fruit and Nut Tree Network e-list.

2. What kinds of fruit and/or nut trees/plants are you growing successfully? Add any points you think relevant about their age or ways you care for them.

3. What kinds of fruit and/or nut trees/plants have you tried to grow but think were unsuccessful because of our local climate or soils? Add any points you think relevant about why you think they might have died or do not fruit well.

4. If you know of fruit and/or nut trees growing on public land, please tell us what they are and their location.

5. If you are willing to share your skills and knowledge about fruit and/or nut growing locally, please identify those skills and knowledge so we can contact you over leading an interactive talk or workshop.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Orange

Click on the Orange Food Week website, where you can download a program. The festival takes place 9–18 April. The program includes information about the 100-Mile Diet and being a Locavore.

Orange is well beyond the bioregion of the Blue Mountains but their fruit and nut growing is impressive and some of their activities are worth the visit. Besides umpteen wine-oriented events, and a cider-tasting, there is a 'hands-on cider making class', heritage apple walks and tours through a Forest Reef's hazelnut farm. This gives us some ideas for Fruit and Nut Tree Network field visits in the future.

The Orange Food Week website also provides some of Adelaide Harris's great recipes using apples, walnuts and beetroot — all of which grow well in the Blue Mountains. She includes simple apple tart, pickled apple and cabbage, and spiced walnuts recipes.

The photo was taken at the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens, which includes this hazelnut grove.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SLow Fruit National Register

Late last year a campaign started to create a visual Slow Fruit National Register to preserve information and stock about our declining diversity of varieties of fruit and nut trees. Using this information, Slow Food has a plan to work out which varieties might be reintroduced for garden (and orchard) production. The register was launched by the Australian Ark, Food Cultures, Traditions and Biodiversity Commission.
Take a look at their website to collect a form an details about how to contribute information and images of old varieties from the Blue Mountains ( or mail Slow fruit, Post Office Box 721, Kalamunda, Western Australia).

Note the item about our network on the SBS Hunter and Gatherer website.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Drying chestnuts

Drying chestnuts is useful because they do not store well otherwise. A high moisture content means that they will start drying out, unless in ideal conditions. Even in ideal conditions they only keep for weeks, not months. Dried and stored in a sealed container chestnuts will keep for up to a year.

You will need to soak dried chestnuts in boiling water for 12 hours to cook (boil) them as you would fresh ones for around 20 minutes to chop or mash for for eating. You can grind roasted chestnuts into flour using, say, a nut mill. Apparently they make delicious pancakes. I'll let you know when I try later this month after we visit the chestnut farm (as detailed in blog below).

Chestnuts Australia Inc. advise that: 'Using a conventional oven, chestnut halves should be dried on a wire rack at about 125°C for up to 10 hours. (Fan forced ovens take less time, so test for dryness after 8 hours.)' If you have a drier, you will need to halve freshly picked chestnuts with a cleaver and place on drier trays cut side down. After being at a medium heat for 8 to 10 hours, the shell comes off easily and the pellicle can also be taken off relatively easily too.

Let's know how you go.


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)