On the back of our verge gardening, a neighbour from down the street asked if it would be reasonable to plant an olive tree next to their house. Of course I said: go for it!
Fast forward only a few years, and the small tree started producing olives. They sat on the tree, ripening, and eventually starting to fall onto the street. So you know me: I hate seeing something go to waste…
So we took a small ladder around, and harvested about half a bucket’s worth. Not a huge amount, but still quite a few.
Now olives can’t be eaten fresh, as they contain a very bitter substance that needs to be treated away. A bit of Googling found an excellent resources from the University of California titled Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling.
It outlines seven different methods, and I chose the kalamata-style approach.
This involves soaking/fermenting the olives in water for 20 days, changing the water each day.
After that, the olives were pickled in a mix of brine and red wine vinegar. (My home-made vinegar, by the way, created from left-over bottles of wine.)
Now I don’t actually like olives, but I’m assured that the results were excellent (a ‘very mild’ flavour, and ‘the best olives I’ve had’). Now I can’t confirm the veracity of these statements, but it was a fun process, and actually not very labour intensive.
All in all, it was a good proof of concept, and I think I’ll give it another go next season, if there’s a good crop…
With our first good crop of apples this year, there have been plenty of apple-based recipes. This includes a delightful apple and marmalade cake from River Cottage: Fruit every day!, plenty of apple crumbles, apple pies, and the like.
Still, two people (even with friends) can’t easily get through four buckets of apples. So onto preserving!
I started by creating some jars of apple and mint jelly, using a recipe from Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2.
The apples are cooked down whole, pips and all, until soft. The pulp is then strained through a muslin cloth (or equivalent) over night. The resulting liquid (thick with pectin) is then cooked with sugar until it sets (this took a bit of convincing!). The result is a light jelly with an enjoyable hint of mint — perfect for roast lamb!
I then moved onto apple sauce. I hunted through my collection of cookbooks, and Canning for a new generation had the simplest and easiest recipe (most of the other ones involved whole days of cooking down the fruit!).
Again, the fruit is cooked whole until soft. It was then passed through my passata machine, which separated out all the pips and skin. The pulp is heated until boiling, and then put into mason jars. These are processed in hot water until properly sterilised.
The final preserve was a straightforward fruit wedges in syrup, using instructions out of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This was the quickest process of all: peel and core the fruit, and cook briefly in a light syrup. Then jar and process in a hot water bath for 20mins.
I’m pleased with my collection of apple preserves, and I’m looking forward to using them throughout the cold winter days to come 🙂
It’s been a hot summer in Sydney, with some much-needed rain after an extended dry period. So as usual, the summer glut of produce overwhelmed our immediate needs.
One of my favourite activities is converting what we grow into jars of pickles, chutneys and the like. This is what we produced this summer:
- Australia Day chutney
- cucumber relish (two ways)
- pickled beetroot
- pickled bur gherkins
- pickled cherries (two ways)
- tomato chilli pickle
- tomato & onion relish
- tomato passata
- tomato & tamarind chutney
By my count, that’s 42 jars, not including the half-dozen we’ve already given away or used. That’s not bad considering that half of our main raised beds were attacked by roots, and therefore struggling to produce anything…
At this time of year, the tomato crop is in full swing, and the great thing about planting heirloom tomatoes is the variety. At any given point, our fruit bowl is full of ripening tomatoes, red and yellow, small and large. We pluck them off the plants as soon as they start to colour up, to reduce the crop losses to caterpillars. It doesn’t take long for them to ripen properly, and then into our cooking…
In addition to eating them fresh, we’ve also been storing them for future use, via bottles of:
- roast tomato passata
- tomato ketchup
- cherry tomato & onion relish