Posts Tagged ‘berries’

Posted on 1st October 2011

grow | strawberries

By MEREDITH KIRTON

strawberries grown in pots

September is the month of strawberries in Australia, ripening first in Queensland and then the season works its way down the coast towards Victoria, each week signaling another flush somewhere of yet another plump, juicy fruit.

Growing to about 0.5m in width and only 20cm or so high, the strawberry is ideal as a groundcover, or as a strawberry patch, but can also be grown in pots, baskets and window boxes.  In fact, this berry is ideal for the backyard, so long as you can protect the ripening fruit from birds and even the pet dog, who all love the taste of the fruits.  Try nets and empty glass jars to prevent them from getting to your crops.

To grow your own, it’s important to protect these fruit not only from hungry mouths, but also from the ground where they can get fungal problems easily.  That’s where the name “straw”berry actually comes from, as originally straw was placed around each bush to protect the fruit from landing on the damp ground.  Commercial growers often use plastic, but growing your fruit in baskets and pots also has the same effect.

Strawberries need full sun to flower, and there are both white and pink flowering types.  There is also a yellow fruited Alpine or non-spreading strawberry, which is said to be harder for birds to see.  It is, however, just as tasty!  Dig in lots of manure prior to planting rhizomes or seedlings, and feed regularly with liquid manure or liquid blood and bone to encourage recropping.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st October 2011

harvest | strawberries

By MANDY SINCLAIR

freshly picked strawberries

Storage:

Strawberries are delicate and should be handles with care. As they do not ripen after picking, harvest your strawberries when they are bright red and plump. Store in a bowl in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Wash and hull strawberries. Pat dry with kitchen paper, lay on a tray and freeze. Transfer to clip-lock bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Preserve

Strawberry jam

750g strawberries, hulled, halved
750g caster sugar
¼ tsp tartaric acid
Jamsetta, see tip

1. Place strawberries in a saucepan and heat on low, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins, until slightly softened. Add sugar and tartaric acid. Stir until sugar dissolves.
2.  Increase heat to medium. Boil for 20mins, the test for setting point. To test, place a teaspoon of jam on a cold saucer. Sit for 2 mins, until cool. Run finger through the centre, if jam is ready it will stay in two halves.
3.  If not, remove from heat and stir through 16g jamsetta. Return to the heat and boil for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Divide jam between hot sterilized jars and seal.

tip ….
Jamsetta is powdered pectin and assists in setting the jam. It is available at supermarkets.

strawberry jam recipe

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st October 2011

cook | strawberries

By MANDY SINCLAIR

strawberry shortcake recipe

Strawberry & almond slice

150g butter, at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups almond meal
¾ cup plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
300g strawberries, hulled
1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease and line 20cm x 30cm slice pan.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold through almond meal, flour and baking powder, until just combined.
3. Fill prepared pan. Arrange strawberries over batter, pressing down lightly. Sift over icing sugar. Bake for 40-45 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan.
4. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.

Serves 12

try this ….
Strawberry & smoked salmon salad

Combine 150g baby rocket, 100g sliced smoked salmon, 100g torn brie cheese and 1 small sliced red onion in a large bowl. Hull and slice 250g strawberries. Add to salad. Whisk together ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp raspberry vinegar and 1 tsp Dijon mustard. Season well. Add to salad and toss to combine.


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Posted under cook
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.

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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

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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.



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Posted under cook