Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Delicious Preserving Traditions

This Saturday brings the next highly popular series of preserving workshops hosted by  Blue Mountains Slow Food convivium leader Anne Elliot. Anne’s been an advocate for living locally and enjoying ourselves as we do, in this case by creating a storage fruit that can be eaten all through winter which also looks gorgeous on the shelves. Anne’s passionate about preserving food and a wealth of information and recipes. I asked Anne how long she’d been using Fowler’s Vacola “I have been using this system for around 18 months now, but have fond memories of watching my mother use it to preserve all kinds of surplus , seasonal fruits and vegetables when growing-up in country south-west New South Wales.  My father often visited a lot of the local farms, and the Italian farmers, being always-generous, would give my father boxes of produce.  We had lovely wooden boxes filled with local fruit, for example, stored in our laundry!” 

There are electric and stove top systems with Fowler's.  Anne will be demonstrating use of the electric Fowlers Preserving System, which she loves because “it is so quick and easy for people feeling a bit 'rushed'  - dare I say!”. Bringing these sorts of systems bang up to date is a great way to help a new generation of preservers to get started. These days so much food goes to waste and ends up in landfill. In NSW alone households throw out $2.5 Billion worth of food. Preserving your fruit at home is a great simple way to help prevent so much food going to waste as well as creating sweet treats to be  on hand in your larder or kitchen cupboard to enjoy all year round without having to ship them in from far away.

There are loads of other ways of preserving of course, and different cultures have developed a myriad of preservation techniques for especially loved or nutritionally valued fruits to see them through the winter. These age old traditions including using salt to preserve lemons which the Fruit and Nut Tree Network featured here last year as part of A Kitchen Garden in Every Blue Mountains Home. You can still download full instructions at Slow Food Blue Mountains.  Making relishes and chutneys is another form of preserving, either your harvest or seasonal fruits in the shop when they are in season, in plentiful supply and in therefore in tip top condition for preserving. Anne just recently made another two batches of fantastic "tomato relish, using discarded tomatoes  (doesn't matter if they are a little over-ripe for this.)  This is a GREAT VERY OLD  RECIPE AND SOOOO EASY" she enthuses.
(folks in the lower mountains may consider sharing any remaining tomato bounty with those of us who were less fortunate in the tomato growing season this year - hint! - Kat)

CONNIE'S TOMATO RELISH  (Can always divide this to make smaller quantities)
6kgs tomatoes
1/2 cup salt
2kgs onions
2 kgs sugar
Paste:  4 tablespoons cornflour, 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger (mix with some water to form a watery paste)
3/4 bottle vinegar
Soak chopped  tomatoes and onions overnight in salt.  Drain off liquid.  Add vinegar and sugar.  Boil for 1/2 hour.  Take off stove, add paste, simmer until thick.
Bottle while still warm in sterilised jars.

Coming along to the workshop on Saturday? call and book in 0423 109270 or email cloudlands@iinet.com.au - I'll see you there, with my fruit, knife and pinny! 

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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)