Monday, March 9, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
Seasonal NotesIt's good to take stock and make notes every season. Fruit and Nut Network members Kris and Marnie share their experiences from different places.
...From the Mid Mountainsby Kris Newton
...in the Upper Mountainsby Marnie O'Mara
Summer is the season of plenty here in the mountains. Our garden has provided us with an abundance of produce over the past few months - we've eaten our fill, shared with friends, swapped for things we don't grow but others do, frozen, dehydrated and bottled enough to get us through the less productive Winter.
At a recent Kitchen Garden Produce Swap we swapped some cucumbers for a large quantity of crab apples. I know lots of people have these in their gardens and think they aren't the most useful of fruits. We brought home about two kilos of crab apples from the swap as we wanted to make enough pectin to see us through the next berry-jamming season. We also used them to make two batches of fabulous fizz, one lot paired with rhubarb. The result was delicious - thirst quenching and not too sweet.
Our three apple trees are very sensible - they pretty much stagger the ripening of their fruit so that when one is finished the next begins (actually, my very practical hubby carefully chose which trees to plant with this in mind). This means we have been able to pick apples every day during January and February - and today, the first day of Autumn, we still have lots of apple days ahead.
This year we have also have a bumper crop of grapes! This is the vine's third season - last year we had a few good sized bunches, and this year there are masses of huge purple/black bunches of beautiful, juicy grapes. I see the birds eyeing them off, longing to get stuck into the fruit, however our garden cage keeps the birds out and our precious bounty safe.
Surveying our garden this morning I see that we'll soon be picking kiwi fruit and cape gooseberries.
Have seasonal notes for the lower mountains or elsewhere in the mountains? We'd love to hear from you! More news from the Fruit and Nut Tree Network.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
You can’t get jam to set without pectin of some kind and strawberries don’t contain this essential ingredient. Making strawberry jam get a good set is tricky, especially if you don’t want to make a mixed fruit jam or buy pectin.
In the spring newsletter we heard about soaking extra citrus pips and pith overnight to get good marmalade set. Marnie has a slightly different technique, as she explains “I don't like to use a lot of sugar in my jams (if 1kg of fruit then only 1/2 kilo of sugar) and I don't like the flavour of lemon to take over the flavour of the fruit, so my 'trick' is to include lemon pips (saved in a container in the freezer) tied in muslin (and pounded gently once or twice) when the fruit is boiling. I prefer to let the mix bubble away for longer to reduce the liquid - a lesser bounty, but a thicker one which is has a far more concentrated fruit flavour.”
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
By Anitra Nelson, with updates from Anne Elliott and Kat Szuminska
It started with The Fruit and Nut Tree Register The Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree N
Growing, harvesting, storing and cooking In 2009, Anitra Nelson, with support from Anne Elliott and others, including members of Permaculture Blue Mountains Lizzie Connor and Sue Girard, in the form of a wider network connected by an email list and blog. They designed new activities to support local residents to share knowledge and skills in growing, harvesting and storing fruit and nuts in their gardens, in community gardens and other appropriate public land. We have had a free or as-cheap-as-we-can approach to these activities, which children can often participate in.
Workshops and field trips, online and off Over the last few years we have organised a range of workshops and field trips. Our newsletter now goes out to 300 email addresses, some including groups of people and many couples. We also have had inserts in the Blue Mountains Gazette alerting people to our existence and promote single events in the Gazette the week before they happen.
Working for food Activities for 2011 began on 2 January with berry picking at Cloud Farm Community Collective (Mt Tomah). This collective was formed to preserve a massive one-acre netted food forest, which included dozens of different kinds of fruit and nut plants. The collective was ‘working for food not money’ and one of its aims was to share skills and knowledge within our local community. By year’s end it had disbanded, but was a useful experiment and provided an ongoing venue for our network’s activities while it lasted. Besides events organized by our network we promoted opportunities such as for individuals and small groups to pick figs there and to collect manure as a joint exercise. Tours with benefits of hand dug berry canes and a variety of other propagules from our very generous hosts Judith and John Chorley.
Twice in July the network pruned apple trees in McRae’s Paddock (public land). In 2012 Brian, Wayne and Sue ran a pruning workshop at the community gardens, over 50 people took part, and in 2013 Barry Jarrott ran a pruning workshop in Katoomba (pictured above). Anne also presented regular, seasonal, workshops on preserving fruit using Fowlers Vacola equipment. There is a healthy resurgence of interest in canning & bottling and these workshops are popular. Also new in 2013 Maggie facilitated a workshop with eager participants sharing their experiences on the art of dehydrating foods.
Partnering with TAFE A partnership with TAFE since 2011 has resulted in a variety of successful outreach courses. While all result in a No 9070 Statement of Attainment in Access to Work & Training, the contents have extended across a range of fruit and nut growing and harvesting activities, including: establishing fruit and nut
Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Trees Beginning 2012, each March/April Anne Elliott leads a group visit to Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm in Mt Irvine to collect chestnuts in season and enjoy a picnic lunch. The farm provides buckets/bags for nuts. We look forward to this annual treat. In 2014 a Sid from Lushious created a fantastic chestnut pate which was eagerly snapped up in the first couple of hours going on sale at Leura's inaugural Harvest Festival.
In 2012, Anitra travelled overseas, and then subsequently relocated to Victoria. That's when Anne Elliott and Kat Szuminska took over responsibility for organizing and promoting activities, updating this blog and sending out the newsletter. New activities included a series on Collective Sustainability in the co-working space 2780 in Katoomba. We invited local foodies and food writers to share their recipes and local food stories and histories.
Swapping and sharing Gathering chestnuts, sharing surplus citrus fruits and fig cuttings, pruning fruit trees at Varuna (the Writers’ House), Mt Tomah and Katoomba Organic Community Gardens, holding preserving workshops, promoting swaps and trade in local fruit and nuts through our food co-operative, the foragers' network on facebook, swap tables at local permaculture and transition town events, and even dedicated swap meets. Most recently Kris organised an open day of food forests in the mid mountains.
These are all the kinds of activities organised and promoted through the Blue Mountains Fruit and Nut Tree N
The Fruit and Nut Tree Network is Slow Food Blue Mountains initiative
BLUE MOUNTAINS FRUIT CALENDAR
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)
- ▼ 2015 (4)
- ► 2012 (19)
- ► 2011 (40)
- ► 2010 (46)