Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best fruit cake time of year

It's that time of year, which is why writing posts has dropped by the wayside. But, here we are again, with my best fruit cake recipe to share.

You will need a large saucepan and a large cake tin smeared in oil and lined with greaseproof paper oiled on the side of the mixture.

Into the saucepan place 2 cups of raisins, 2 cups sultanas, 1 cup currants, 300gm butter (or 1 heaping cup, 300ml, of oil), 1 and one half cups of brown sugar (or 1 cup, 250ml, honey), 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and 2 cups (500ml) water (or 375 ml if using honey instead of sugar).

Bring to the boil, being careful because the bicarb will froth and foam over if you're not there to regulate the heat. Keep on a brisk simmer, stirring for several minutes, i.e. until the sugar has dissolved. Now leave it to cool, which will take at least half an hour depending on the weather and where you leave it.

Once the mixture is cool preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade. Beat 4 fresh eggs together. To the cool fruit mixture add a couple of teaspoons of finely grated nutmeg or ground ginger and the same quantity of ground cinnamon, and a pinch or two of cloves as well as the beaten eggs. Finally fold in 2 cups of sifted wholemeal plain flour. Don't be surprised at how runny the mixture is, just pour it into your prepared pan.

The cake takes around an hour and a half of baking. I place a lid on it, usually after about half an hour, to make sure it doesn't burn on the top.

We call this the Christmas fruit pudding cake.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Growing your own prevents pesticide exposure

All of us should eat a few servings of fruit everyday. Choice magazine has done several tests over the years on pesticides in fruit (don't think you can wash them all off).

An article on strawberries (29 January 2008) revealed that most conventionally grown strawberries tested by Choice contained pesticides, some relatively dangerous ones. Even though they tested only good specimens, one batch was above the maximum residue limit set by Australian standards, another breached EU standards, some contained traces of pesticides not permitted for use in the source state (the states and territories have different regulations for producers) and 17 contained traces of two or more pesticides, which means consumers risk the often unknown (under-researched) synergistic affects.

Another article (10 March 2006) showed that testing of fruit and vegetables is neither as regular not as rigorous as we might expect — neglecting many (95%) imported products. The conclusion was go organic or grow your own — organically of course!


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)