Archive for March, 2012

Posted on 15th March 2012

grow | figs

By MEREDITH KIRTON

immature fig fruit

fig tree growing

Since Adam was a boy, we have been growing figs, not for their large body covering leaves but for their delicate sweet fruit which is treasured.  This most loved plant is especially delicate, so handling really bruises the fruit easily, making it an ideal backyard addition where the journey from backyard to dinner plate can be minimised.
Of all the varieties, probably the yummiest is Ficus ‘Black Ischia’, but as this has very soft skin you usually won’t be able to buy it at the greengrocer.

Figs like a Mediterranean climate, which means wet winters and dry hot summers, but they are adaptable and seem to grow on the coast too, although they do succumb to splitting their fruit sometimes if the rains fall too heavily, and also to fruit fly and scale on both their leaves, stems and fruit.  The biggest pest however is birds, who also love eating figs. For this reason, figs are often espaliered, or grown flat, so that a net can easily be thrown over them, or grown inside cages or, like in the picture shown here, under an arch so similarly a cover can protect the ripening fruits.  The other trick to getting bigger harvests is to plant your tree on a rock or slab of concrete.  This stops the roots from developing a major tap root, which in turn makes the tree less large and more spreading, which results in more fruit.

Figs set fruit on both young wood and old, so can produce many kilos once established.  In Australia the first crop is in early summer, followed by a secondary, heavier crop inlate summer.  If your fruit drops when it’s young and fails to develop, chances are the wasp needed to pollinate your crop hasn’t visited.  A capri fig is the host and will need to be nearby in order to visit your tree.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 15th March 2012

harvest | figs

By MANDY SINCLAIR

harvest figs

Storage:

When fully ripe, figs are highly perishable therefore are best eaten the same day as picking. If slightly under-ripe, line a plate with fig leaves. Lay figs on leaves in a single layer and refrigerate for 2-3 days.

What to do with glut

  • Preserve

Fig chutney

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp grated ginger
7 figs

1. Heat oil in a large pan on low. Cook onion for 10 mins, until very soft and slightly caramelised. Add remaining ingredients, except figs. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 30 mins, until liquid is syrupy.
2. Add figs. Simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until figs have softened. Transfer to hot sterilised jars. Seal. Cool. Refrigerate for up to 3 months.

  • Dry

Oven baked figs

12 figs, halved
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
honey, for bottling

1. Preheat oven to 130C or 110C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Lay figs, cut side up on prepared tray. Scatter over rind and sugar. Bake for 3-4hrs, checking every hr, until figs are semi-dried and sticky. Cool.
3. Transfer to a sterilised jar. Cover completely with honey and seal. Serve with goats cheese on bruschetta, in cakes and tarts or as part of a cheese platter.

preserved fig recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 15th March 2012

cook | figs

By MANDY SINCLAIR

fig and blue chesse tarts

Fig & blue cheese tarts

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
100g soft blue cheese, at room temperature
6 small figs, halved
thyme sprigs, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 220°C or 200°C fan. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. Cut 6 x 7.5cm rounds from each sheet of pastry. Lay on prepared trays. Score each round, 1cm from edge. Prick centre with a fork. Brush with egg and bake for 10 mins, until puffed and lightly golden.
3. Remove from oven and press centre of each pastry round down. Spoon a little blue cheese into centre of each tart shell. Top with a fig half, cut side up and a little more cheese. Bake for 10 mins.
4. Serve topped with a sprig of thyme.

Makes 12

try this …….
Fig meringue torte
Mix together 1 cup mascarpone, 1 tablespoon icing sugar and 3 roughly chopped figs. Spread between 2 large meringue discs. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.

try this …….
Top your favourite brownie recipe with fig halves before baking. Cut into squares, so that each square has a delicious piece of fig on top.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 13th March 2012

community | junior gardeners

By MEREDITH KIRTON

junior gardeners

junior gardeners

junior gardeners

The Yates Junior Landcare Watermelon Challenge has wrapped up with two massive 20kg watermelons winning both the individual and group categories. Six-year-old Wyatt Kahler from Basin View, NSW, won the individual category with his giant watermelon weighing 20kg with a circumference of 83cm. The group winner was Cooran State School in Queensland, where the students also managed to grow a 20kg watermelon with a 77cm circumference. Wyatt’s grandmother, Trish Kahler, loved seeing her grandson get involved in the challenge.

“We’ve grown a few really big ones and we have more on the way! I think it is really great how kids can get out into the garden and learn about where their food is actually coming from,” she said. The challenge, launched last year by Junior Masterchef winner Isabella Bliss and her sister, Sofia, attracted over 40,000 participants from across the country. Regardless of whether they had grown a winning watermelon or something smaller, the kids were just excited to get their hands dirty and learn how to grow their own food. “I finally got a melon for the competition. Our season was very poor due to a cool to mild summer and very dry for two months. We finally got rain and more sunshine and bingo things started to grow in the far south east,” said Henry, a competitor from Bega, NSW. In addition to showing off their gardening abilities, competitors got creative by dressing up their watermelons and uploading photos of the results as part of the competition. Claire and Simon Jung from Lyneham, ACT, won this category with a photo of their watermelon looking very cosy in their garden bed dressed up with a beanie and scarf.

Just a heads up that Grow Harvest Cook will soon be running a kids gardening and cooking competition with some great give-aways! Make sure you read our newsletter so you don’t miss out!

junior gardeners

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Posted on 6th March 2012

grow | thyme

By MEREDITH KIRTON

grow your own thyme

kitchen garden thyme

Thyme, with all its delightful foliage and flavour variants, makes a beautiful addition not just to your recipes but also as a perennial in your garden.  There are so many types, from ‘Silver Posy’, a white edged leaf form, to golden leafed forms, some that smell like lemons or oranges and others that make pizza come alive.

All are only small growers, getting about 20cm tall at best, and others, like woolly thyme, growing perfectly flat and able to be walked upon like a groundcover.  In fact, with stepping stones between them, thyme lawns are a delightful way of finishing areas around paving or pathways.

Success with your thyme is dependent on three things. 1. Thyme needs good drainage. 2. It has to have plenty of sunshine. 3. An annual top dressing of lime makes the soil pH alkaline enough to be able to thrive.  In other ways, thyme is easily grown, drought tolerant, mostly cold tolerant and able to be harvested year round.

Try to pick your thyme before it flowers in summer, just so you have more delicious leaves.  Early morning harvesting is best, and scissors are ideal as they cut cleanly.  Regularly trimming means that your stems are not too tough, and it will encourage bushy regrowth.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 6th March 2012

harvest | thyme

By MANDY SINCLAIR

kitchen herbs - thyme

Storage:

Wrap picked thyme in damp kitchen paper and place in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Place whole sprigs in a resealable plastic bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. The leaves will discolour and the flavor will be slightly more mild, however it is far superior to using dried thyme.

  • Preserve

Add thyme to pickles, onion jam, vinegar and flavoured oils.

thyme

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 6th March 2012

cook | thyme

By MANDY SINCLAIR

thyme recipe

Thyme & parmesan crumbed chicken

1 cup grated parmesan
1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp thyme leaves
500g chicken tenderloins
¼ cup plain flour
1 egg
¼ cup olive oil
mashed potato, salad, to serve

1. Mix together parmesan, breadcrumbs and thyme. Dust chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Whisk egg and 1 tbsp water in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg and then breadcrumb mixture, pressing down to coat.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium. Cook chicken for 2-3 mins each side, until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
3. Serve with mashed potato and salad.

Serves 4

Tip
Prepare chicken ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to cook. Crumbed chicken can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator and cook as above.

try this …….
Thyme roasted tomatoes
Halve roma tomatoes, lengthways. Lay, cut-side up on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little olive, season and scatter over thyme leaves. Bake at 180C or 160C fan for 30-45 mins, until tomatoes have just collapsed. Serve with grilled steak or chicken.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook