Friday, July 30, 2010

Lemon marmalade and history

We'd love to hear from people who know about the history of fruit and nut trees in the Blue Mountains, records of:
the pre-settlement Indigenous plants that local Indigenous people ate and that kept them healthy through their medicinal properties;
the early settlers who farmed and gardened to feed themselves and provide produce for small local markets;
twentieth century developments.

In a little tome that is a cross between a volume of local history and a cookery book — The Blue Mountains Olde and New Ways Cookbook by Juliette Palmer Frederick (Katoomba 1992) — there is a recipe for a simple lemon marmalade that follows.

Take four lemons and cover with water (under 600 ml) in a saucepan.
Boil till the lemons are tender and switch off heat.
Remove, halve and de-pip the lemons, then dice or slice them finely.
Return chopped fruit and juice to liquid in saucepan.
Add 500 gm sugar and boil fast for, say 15 mins, i.e. till setting stage is reached.
Place in sterilised jars and seal.

This is the kind of information that we'll be sharing at our next workshop at Kihilla on Saturday 14 August. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Organic Gardener Essential Guide — Fruit

The ABC's Organic Gardener magazine has just released a special Essential Guide to Fruit. It's 124 pages and just under $10. Both the Organic gardener website and the ABC website's gardening section have great information on citrus growing (see the ABC on dwarf apples).

Take a browse in preparation for our Citrus Show and Tell coming up Saturday 14 August at the home of the Mid-Mountains Community Gardens at Kihilla in Lawson starting at 10.30 am.

This will be an opportunity to share information, samples and stories of citrus growing in the sub-regions from Meyer lemons in the upper mountains down to grapefruits, limes and oranges and their hybrids in the lower mountains. You can bring produce to share, swap or sell. There will be a mean home-brewed lemonade to taste, and more!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Indigenous raspberry

In the 'Berry Similar Plants' section of the Blackberry page on the Blue Mountains City Council site Weeds of the Blue Mountains Bushland, there is a discussion of some of the Indigenous raspberries found locally. One of them is Rubus hilli. Wendy Whitton potted cuttings of this plant, which grows at their place in South Katoomba, so that several of us can now try to grow it in our gardens. We will share our knowledge of the best sites and soil, and ways to maintain them. If you have some experience, please let us know by writing in the comments box.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Orange preserving workshop

Following the very successful medlar preserving workshop at Melanie's and Alexander's in Bullaburra, our next activity is there on Sunday 18 July — again for a demonstration and talk but this time about making orange marmalade, candied oranges and peel, orange curd and orange cordial!

The orange (Citrus spp. Rutaceae) is one of the oldest fruit trees cultivated by the human species being a hybrid of a pummelo and a mandarin. It is a wonderful winter fruit growing well in the lower mountains. The Seville orange is able to survive higher up where it is colder more often.

We're particularly interested in hearing from local growers of their indigenous plant relatives, such as the Australian finger lime (Citrus australasica). The indigenous varieties seem less susceptible to pests and diseases that bother the kinds brought by European and Asian settlers, and are generally drought and salt tolerant. CSIRO has trialled grafting the indigenous varieties onto the more plentiful commercial varieties. All make very good marmalades and fruit juices, cordials and sauces.


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)