Archive for January, 2010

Posted on 16th January 2010

Grow | Berries

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Berries are one of summer’s most looked forward to fruits, with a relatively short season making things like fresh raspberries and juicy mulberries a real treat. If you’re over paying $7 for a punnet of blueberries at Christmas time, or just want to be able to find a strawberry without mould on it by the time you get it home from the shops, then home growing berries is for you. Kilo per square metre, they are also one of the more productive of perennial fruit plants your could plant, with up to up to 5kg of fruit to be harvested from larger bushes like gooseberries and blackberries.

Berries are very climate specific, so it’s important to choose the right type for your area. Cold climates like tableland and mountain areas that get frosts should look at planting boysenberries, raspberries, silvanberries and gooseberries. Warmer areas should try Cape Gooseberries, rabbit eye blueberries, thornless blackberries, mulberries and even some of the more unusual berry-like fruits such as Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra) and Brazilian cherry. Both regions can also happily grow strawberries, which, as a ground covering plant, can even be grown in hanging baskets or strawberry pots.

Whatever your choice, every home owner has the ability to grow a delicious fruit platter. The main thing to watch out for is birds, as they too like berries and are quick to pick your prime fruit. Try netting, plastic snakes hung around bushes and even sparkling CD’s hanging overhead to frighten them off.

Blueberries can be easily grown in tubs. They like a low pH of about 4.5 – 6, so using premium standard azalea and camellia mix works well. Feed them in winter then again in late summer with slow release fertilizer and keep them in a partially shaded or half a day’s sun position.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted under grow
Posted on 15th January 2010

Harvest | Berries

By MANDY SINCLAIR

homegrown berries

Storing:
Berries have a short shelf life and need to be refrigerated to reduce perishing. Line an airtight container with absorbent paper. Place unwashed berries into container and top with a lid. Refrigerate for up to a 3-4 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Place excess berries in a single layer on a tray and freeze. Transfer to plastic freezer bags for easier storage. Freeze whole for up to 6 months. Use straight from the freezer in cakes, muffins or pancakes. Drop into punch or iced tea. Thaw and puree with caster sugar for coulis. Perfect for jam.

  • Preserve:

Jam – for a quick jam recipe try this easy microwave method.

Combine 300g mixed berries and 2tbsp lemon juice in a large heatproof bowl. Microwave on high for 5 mins. Add 1 cup caster sugar and mix well. Microwave for another 3 mins. Stir and microwave for another 3 mins. Test for setting; drop 1 tsp of jam onto a cold saucer and stand for 1 min. Tilt saucer, if jam sits firm it is ready, if it runs cook for another 3mins, until set. Spoon into sterilized jars.

homemade berry jam recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , , , ,

Posted under harvest
Posted on 15th January 2010

Cook | Berries

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Mixed berry tart

1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
100g butter, chopped
1-2 tablespoons iced water
300g fresh ricotta
1/3 cup cream
¼ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups mixed berries
icing sugar, for dusting

1. Place flour, sugar, lemon rind and butter in a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, gradually add enough water until mixture forms a ball around the blade. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and bring dough together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Lightly grease a 23cm pie plate.
3. Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3mm thickness. Ease pastry into prepared pie plate and trim edges. Chill for 20 minutes. Line tart shell with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for another 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat ricotta, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla together until smooth. Pour into tart shell and bake for 25-30 minutes, until just set. Refrigerate until cold.
5. Pile berries over tart and dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Serves 8

tip ….
Fresh ricotta vs packaged
Fresh ricotta is available from most supermarkets and is more suited to this recipe as it tends to be drier. The mixture will be wetter if using a tub of packaged ricotta and may need a little extra cooking time for the filling to set.

try this ….
For a delicious pavlova topping or filling for a swiss roll – stir 250g mascarpone until smooth. Add 1-2 punnets of raspberries and 2 tablespoons icing sugar and mix well. Spread over pavlova or use to fill a swiss roll.



Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted under cook
Posted on 4th January 2010

Cook | Tomatoes

By MANDY SINCLAIR

clear tomato broth

1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small red chillies, chopped
2kg ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped
1 cup basil leaves
to serve
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
¼ cup baby basil leaves
crusty bread, to serve

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium. Cook onion, carrot, celery and chilli, covered, for 10 mins, until tender. Add tomato and any juices and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stand for 10 mins.
2. Line a strainer with muslin and place over a large bowl. Ladle soup into strainer and allow juices to run through, this will take about 30 mins.
3. Season broth with sea salt. Chill or serve warm.
4. Ladle into bowls and top with diced tomato and baby basil. Season with cracked black pepper. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 6

tip ….
To peel tomatoes. Using a small paring knife, score a cross in the base of tomato. Plunge into a saucepan of boiling water for 30 secs. Using a slotted spoon transfer tomato to a bowl of iced water. The skin will easily peel off.

try this ….
Nothing can be more delicious than a tomato and mozzarella salad. Thickly slice 3 tomatoes and arrange on a serving platter. Top with torn buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted under cook
Posted on 3rd January 2010

Grow | Tomatoes

By MEREDITH KIRTON

cherry tomatoes

Breeding for supermarket shelves has turned the tomato from a sweet juicy fruit into a floury, hard nugget, so for great flavour and amazing colours, grow your own fruit. Each plant is capable of producing many kilos of fruit too, so they are one of the most rewarding vegetables to try. Whether you have a garden or just a pot or two, there are varieties that suit. Some tumbling types can even be grown in hanging baskets.

All tomatoes are sun lovers and need at least 5 hours direct sun a day to not only fruit properly, but also beat disease. Mulch around each plant with pea straw or lucerne, which will help keep in moisture and feed the soil gently. They’re greedy however and love extra fertiliser, so make sure you dig plenty of manure, blood and bone or compost through your soil prior to planting, or, if you are using containers, use fresh potting mix that meets Australia’s Premium Standard. Once tomatoes actually start flowering, switch to using a specially formulated tomato feed that’s rich in Potassium (K) to supply all the needs of those developing fruits.

Most varieties need staking, so make sure you hammer this firmly into the ground before planting out your seedlings. As they grow, remove the side shoots, known as laterals, by pinching them off with your fingers. Tie the “vine” to the stake as it grows, otherwise it will just sprawl on the ground where the fruit will easily rot. If you have problems with fruit fly in your area, it may be worthwhile either bagging your developing fruit with organza or paper bags, using baits, or even dusting with Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control. Yates Tomato Dust, which controls a range of pests and diseases, and contains Spinosad, which is derived from a soil bacteria and only has a 3 day withholding (you can’t pick) period.

Pick of the crop

Window Box Roma, Pot Tom and Patio Prize are the best for pots, whilst hanging baskets suit the Tumbling Red or Yellow. For amazing colour, the Heirloom Favourite range from Yates, which contains some time honoured favourites such as Black Russian, Green Zebra and Yellow Tomatoes is a must. Modern tomato varieties such as Father Tom and Tommy Toe are resistant to many of the more common tomato diseases.

Plant in late winter, early summer. Plants come to maturity in 12-14 weeks.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , , , ,

Posted under grow
Posted on 2nd January 2010

Harvest | Tomatoes

By MANDY SINCLAIR

heirloom tomatoes

Storing:
For the sweetest of tomatoes, it is best to fully ripen whilst still on the vine. Once picked they should be store at a cool room temperature and used within a few days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Place excess tomatoes in a plastic freezer bag. Freeze whole for up to 1 year. Use frozen in casseroles or soups when you want to leave the skin on.  Alternatively place frozen tomatoes in a bowl of water and set aside to thaw. The skin will easily slip from flesh. Use in a pasta sauce or chutney. Cannot use fresh once frozen as the tomato will collapse once thawed.

  • Preserve:

Tomato & tarragon pasta sauce

Cut 2kg of tomatoes in quarters and lay in a large baking pan. Drizzle over 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp cabernet sauvignon vinegar or raspberry vinegar and ¼ cup of water. Season well. Scatter over the leaves from 3 sprigs of tarragon. Bake at 180C or 160C fan for 1 hr. Crush slightly with a fork. Spoon into an airtight container with a lid. Cool and freeze.

Delicious tossed through pasta or served with grilled steak or chicken.

tomato and tarragon pasta sauce recipe

  • Dry:

Halve or quarter tomatoes. Place on an oven tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with cracked black pepper. Place in a 100C oven for 4-5 hrs, until dry. Place in a sterilized jar, cover with olive oil and seal.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted under harvest