Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bottling Fruit

The bottling fruit with Anne Elliot last Saturday proved very successful. Bottling is so easy!

We went over all the sterilising: first make sure the bottle has no chips or cracks; wash jars, elastic rubber rings and sound metal lids and rinse all well; place in 150 degree C oven for 20 mins; fill bottles with fruit while still warm; Anne suggested using a medium syrup (1 cup of sugar to 2 cups of water)* over the packed fruit; cover and clip the bottles and set in the steriliser (pressure cooker, large pan or special equipment — see below); cook as recommended (different times for different fruits). Depending on your equipment the syrup will be cold (in special equipment, 10–30 mins, see below) or hot (quick deep pan method 2–20 mins; or pressure-cooked, 1–5 mins). There are oven methods too. I advise consulting a book.

*Fruit can be bottled in water, and honey, stevia or golden syrup can substitute for sugar.

Preserved lemons — simply bottled in salt were another delicacy we learned to make. Again, so easy!

Lindsay, in Katoomba Country Brewer, Shop 2, 101 Katoomba Street (i.e. behind Katoomba Street), stocks Ball and Fowlers Vacola bottling equipment, bottles, wax, pectin, etc. Contact him on (02) 4782 3000 or katoomba@countrybrewer.com.au

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bits and bobs...

Funky Front Yard Farmers and Crop & Swap

Along with growing lots of vegetables, Jo and Joe from Springwood have recently initiated a community orchard in their local street (see http://www.funkyfrontyardfarmers.blogspot.com for more about them).

They have also initiated a community food swap, which will begin in November. The Crop & Swap will start on the second Saturday in November at the Faulconbridge Community Hall (see http://www.cropandswap.blogspot.com). See you there.

If you're interested in food foraging, read this article, which recently appeared in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/us/15forage.html

Apple Pruning Workshop

There will be an Apple Pruning Workshop at the BM Organic Community Gardens this coming Friday 26 August, 11am to 1pm Developing a pruning strategy and pruning technique. Cost: $8. Contact Jed for more information: jw99@pnc.com.au

Chestnut Blight

On Friday 19 August the ABC Radio National program Bush Telegraph ran an item in their Food on Friday segment on the chestnut blight. You can hear a podcast, read some brief notes (and find some chestnut recipes) here:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hazelnuts and Oranges

The BM Food Coop has a lot of locally grown citrus and pecans and hazelnuts in their shells for sale right now, which inspired me to find recipes to use them.

Hazelnut and Vegetable Crumble
(from Rose Elliot's The Supreme Vegetarian)

Turn the oven on to a moderate temperature (180 degrees Centigrade).
Prepare 1 kilogram of several different kinds of homegrown or cheap and fresh in-season vegetables (such as pumpkin) and steam till tender, reserving the water.
Mash one third of the mixed vegetables with one tablespoon of olive oil and some of the reserved water to form a puree, and then mix back into the rest of the cooked vegetables with a vegetable stock cube or other favourite seasonings, and place in the base of a casserole.
Place 75g rolled oats, 75g sliced hazelnuts and 75g crushed* hazelnuts with a grated onion, one crushed bulb of garlic, and some thyme or similar fresh/dried herb into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add 50g olive oil and stir to a crumbly mixture.
Cover vegetables with nut crumble and bake for half an hour or so, till the crumble browns.

*I crush shelled nuts by placing them in a paper bag and belting/rolling over them with a rolling pin.

Hazelnut Cake
(from Claudia Roden's The Food of Italy)

Turn the oven on to a moderate temperature (180 degrees Centigrade) and grease and line with greaseproof paper or dust with flour a 20cm round cake pan.
Beat a tablespoon of baking powder into 3 egg yolks. Add 200g sugar, 125g butter/margarine/olive oil, 200g plain flour, and 200g hazelnuts (which have been skinned if you're sensitive to their taste, roughly chopped and quickly toasted in a pan or in the oven), the grated rind from one lemon and 4 tablespoons of soy/cow's/rice milk. Mix it all together well.
Beat the 3 egg whites (which need to be at room temperature) with a pinch of salt till they are stiff and fold through the rest.
Bake for a good half hour, taking out once brown and cooked through.

Orange Granita
(from Claudia Roden's The Food of Italy)

Squeeze enough oranges (or other fresh in season citrus) to make up one litre of juice.
Add either the juice from one lemon or 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water.
Add 4–6 tablespoons of castor sugar (adjusting amount to taste), stirring well to dissolve sugar.
Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Blend ice cubes in food processor till a granita texture is obtained, and serve immediately.
Any uneaten mixture can be frozen again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


This time of year we have lots of questions related to pruning, which differs in terms of different fruit plants and nut trees. June/ July is a good time for pruning deciduous trees.

The Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food has some great general advice, which can be downloaded, on growing fruit and nuts, and on pruning:


I find referring to some ABC online print and video resources useful:

On grapevines, see:

For general advice on making fruit trees more productive through pruning:

On citrus pruning:

On deciduous fruit tree pruning:

On apple trees:

A transcript of a television program, which includes some pruning tips:

This program transcript includes some tips about pruning. More than that some good words to say about the humble carob and some other handy advice:

And if you look deep into the program some snippets on berry cane cutting from Peter Cundall:

More advice can be found here:


Let us know which advice you found most/least useful, so we can improve our resource access advice.


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)