Archive for June, 2010

Posted on 26th June 2010

Grow | Pumpkin

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Nothing symbolizes that garden harvest feel more than a pumpkin.  For those in North America, the tradition of eating pumpkins for Thanksgiving is still as strong as it was for the original Pilgrims when they celebrated the harvest. However, for those of us in Australia we have our own traditions, like the annual pumpkin rolling competition held in Goomeri in Queensland that decorates, smashes and dresses up each year in honour of the pumpkin!  Whether it be the gigantic types you see at the Agricultural Shows or a Queensland Blue or butternut ready for soup, they are fabulously easy to grow – all you need is the space for this sprawling vine to grow, the sunshine and water and nutrient to feed it with.

To grow successfully, wait until all chance of frosts have finished, then plant pumpkin seeds in a mound that has added manure dug through it.  Put about 4 seeds onto a handful of soil at the top of this mound, sprinkle over some more soil and give the whole lot a good long drink.  Once the seedlings have germinated, remove all but the 2 strongest plants.  Water the vine every 2 weeks or so with liquid manure and encourage bees to come and pollinate your flowers by growing them with other flowering plants like nasturtiums, borage or basil.

To harvest your pumpkins, wait till the skins have a uniform colour and a hard rind.  A light frost will help sweeten them, but always have them picked before any really cold weather strikes as this can damage them.  Cut the fruit from the vine using secateurs leaving a short “handle” which leaves your pumpkin less susceptible to rot.  Leave them on the shed roof to cure for 10 days then store in a dry, airy place or use immediately.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 26th June 2010

Harvest | Pumpkin

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Storage:
Pumpkin or squash come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They can be large or small, smooth skinned or ridged, round or long. Generally speaking they all have a similar flavour. Depending on the variety, some will be a little sweeter than others and water content will also vary.
Whole pumpkin will store well for up to 2 months after being picked. Store in a cool well ventilated place with the stalk attached. This will help protect the inside from damp.
Once cut, pumpkin needs to be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 3-5 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Peel and chop pumpkin. Blanch in a large saucepan of boiling water for 3 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again. Pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Pack into freezer bags or plastic containers and freeze. Store frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw and use as you would normally for baking, mash, in casseroles, soups or curries.
Alternatively, cook pumpkin until soft, drain and mash until smooth. Freeze in ice cube trays to use as baby food or in plastic containers. Use for pumpkin tarts, as a topping for pies or in vegetable lasagne.

  • Preserve:

Pumpkin Jam

Boil 1.5kg peeled and chopped pumpkin with ½ cup of water, until very soft. Drain and mash until smooth. Return to pan with 1.5kg caster sugar and rind and juice of 2 lemons. Simmer, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil for 20 mins, until thick. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

  • Dry:

Pumpkin seeds

Remove seeds from 1 whole pumpkin and place in a bowl of cold water. Rub seeds between hands to remove any sinew. Drain well. Bring 2 cups of water and 2 tbsp sea salt to boil in a saucepan, until salt dissolves. Add pumpkin seeds, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 mins. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Lay seeds in a single layer on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and bake for 30-35mins, tossing every 10 mins, until seeds are crisp and golden.

When completely cool, store in an airtight container.

Note – Different varieties of pumpkin seeds have different textures and flavours. Seeds in the image are from the Jap and Queensland blue pumpkin. Experiment to see which is your favourite!

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 26th June 2010

Cook | Pumpkin

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Warm pumpkin, walnut & blue cheese salad

1kg jap pumpkin, cut into thin wedges, skin on
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup walnuts
200g seedless red grapes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
baby spinach leaves
50g soft blue cheese, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Lay pumpkin wedges on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Bake for 30 mins, until golden and tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan on high. Toast walnuts for 1-2mins, until golden. Remove from pan. Cook grapes in same pan for 1-2mins, until just beginning to soften. Add balsamic and simmer for 1 min, until vinegar has evaporated.
3. Combine spinach, pumpkin, walnuts and grapes on a large serving platter. Place cheese in same frying pan and melt on low heat. Pour over salad and serve immediately.

Serves 6


tip ….
Jap pumpkin has a moist flesh that, when baked, caramelizes beautifully. Don’t hesitate to experiment with your favourite variety of pumpkin if you prefer.


try this ….
Spinach filled pumpkins
Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Halve and remove seeds from 2 small golden nugget pumpkins. Place in shallow baking dish. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan on medium. Cook 1 chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves for 5 mins, until soft. Trim, wash and shred 1 bunch silverbeet. Add to onion and cook for 5 mins, until wilted. Add ½ cup of cream and season well. Spoon into pumpkin and top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 40mins, until pumpkin is tender.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 15th June 2010

Grow | Apples

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Apple  trees are such a pretty addition to the garden, with their white or pink blossom in spring and rosie red, pink, green and even gold skinned fruit developing on the tree from late February till June, depending on the variety.  The are however only partially self fertile, which means they need friends with which to share their pollen and bees which can do the travelling from flower to flower, in order to have heavy and successful crops.  These can be provided in the form of crabapples, a mostly ornamental type of tree which is grown for it’s blossom, but does have “crabs” that are great for jellies, other apple trees, and even multi-grafted plants, which have more than one variety grafted onto the same root stock.

In terms of growing conditions, the key factors for success and cold winters, to ensure a dormancy, protection in spring of the blossom from winds and frosts, adequate water and well draining soil.  They are actually adaptable to the type of soil, but will prefer and friable loam with slight acidity.  Regular feeding with manure, pruning in winter to shape and train your tree and encouraging the 2 year old fruiting spurs, and disease control, especially watching for coddling moth are the main maintenance issues.   Four year old trees should produce reasonable crops, and after that they should bear well for decades.

Australia has produced some wonderful apples of which we are proud, like ‘Granny Smith’ and ‘Pink Lady’, but there are also many unusual apples from times gone by that are worth considering.  Check out Loriendale, and Woodbridge Fruit Trees for the best selection in heirloom apples, and Flemings Nurseries for more modern cultivars and their selection of dwarf apples ideal for pots called Trixzies – these are miniature apples which can be grown in containers.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th June 2010

Harvest | Apples

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Storage:
Choose smooth and shiny-skinned apples with the stalk intact. Apples slowly continue to ripen after picking, so keep them refrigerated. If you have a glut, wrap individually in tissue paper, lay in a single layer on a slatted timber rack and store in a cool, dry place or cool room for up to 2 months.
Some apples are better for eating than cooking. Bonza, Gala, Jonathan and Pink Lady apples are best for eating while Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples are more suited to cooking.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Wash and dry apples and place whole and unpeeled on a tray. When frozen transfer apples to freezer bags. Since freezing will change the texture of apples they are only suited for making apple sauce or in pies or cakes..

  • Preserve:

Apple & sage sauce

Peel, core and chop 4 green apples. Place in a saucepan with 2 tsp sugar, 2 cloves, 4 sage leaves and ½ cup of water. Simmer on low heat, covered, for 10mins, until apples is soft. Discard the cloves and sage and mash apple.
Stir through 1tsp lemon juice. Spoon into sterilized jars and store refrigerated for up to 1 week. Serve with roast pork or duck.

  • Dry:

Honey dried apples

Preheat oven 180C or 160C fan. Peel and core 2 green apples. Slice thinly. Place apple rings on a wire rack and place onto a baking tray. Brush with 2 tbsp warmed honey. Bake for 6-7 mins, until golden. Cool and store in an airtight container.

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th June 2010

Cook | Apples

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Apple crostata

1¼ cups caster sugar, plus extra for topping
4 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, halved
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
125g butter, cubed
1 egg
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup apricot jam
½ cup almond meal
thick cream or ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease a 22cm loose bottom flan pan.
2. Place 6 cups of water and ¾ cup of sugar in a large saucepan. Simmer, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add apple halves and top with a sheet of baking paper. Simmer, covered, for 5 mins. Remove from syrup.
3. Meanwhile, place flour, baking powder, lemon rind and remaining sugar in a bowl. Rub in butter, using fingertips, until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Make a well in centre and add combined egg, milk and vanilla. Mix to form a soft dough.
4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently, until smooth. Wrap one-third of dough in plastic and refrigerate for 10 mins. Pat remaining dough into base and sides of prepared pan. Spread half of jam over base and top with almond meal. Arrange drained apple halves over almond. Heat remaining jam in a small saucepan on low and brush over apples.
5. Grate remaining dough over apples. Brush with jam. Bake for 40-45 mins until golden. Serve with thick cream or ice cream.

Serves 8 – 10


try this ….
Baked cinnamon apples

4 medium granny smith apples, cored to within 1cm of base
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sultanas
2 cinnamon sticks, halved
½ cup maple syrup
thick cream, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Place 20g of butter and sultanas in a small bowl and mix well. Push a quarter of mixture into core of each apple and push a cinnamon stick into butter. Drizzle in a little maple syrup and place in a shallow ovenproof dish. Place remaining butter and maple syrup into bottom of dish.
2. Bake for 30 mins, basting occasionally, until apples are golden and tender.
3. Transfer apples to serving bowls, drizzle with juices and serve with thick cream.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st June 2010

Grow | Zucchini & Squash

By MEREDITH KIRTON

zucchini flower

Zucchinis and squash are closely related to not only each other, but also other members of the Cucurbit family, including cucumbers, rock melons and pumpkins.  It is probably this close relationship that has led to so much confusion over their names.  Zucchini, which means little marrow is simply a baby vegetable marrow, and if allowed to grow it would become what is known as such.  Squash, on the other hand, are called either summer or winter squash.  Summer squash are normally yellow or green, but sometimes white, and are also known as button squash.  Winter squash have thicker skin and are sometimes called pumpkins.  They can be either running or bush like, depending on the type.

All family members enjoy the warmth of summer and autumn, and need to be sown in spring once the soil has warmed up.  The soil is normally mounded to aid drainage, and enriched with plenty of manure.  Sow about 4 seeds per mound and thin to the best two after germination, which should take about a week. Grow each plant about 70cm apart and water regularly.  If possible, use liquid manure every fortnight.

Zucchini, which can be grey, black (or very dark green), or yellow, are also very popular picked with their flower still attached.  This can be stuffed and battered for a delicious treat.  Although fairly trouble free and relatively easily grown, all members of this plant group can be troubled with mildew.  Diluted milk (9 parts water, 1 milk) sprayed onto the foliage can help keep this under control.

baby zucchini

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Posted under grow