Radish

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Gardening is slow. Really slow. Sometimes it’s so slow I forget what I’ve planted and then discover it later. I put these radish in for a bit of a quick crop. I had expanded out the veggie patch and was thinking I needed something that would crowd out any other little plants coming through. Water well while its growing and eat soon once it’s reached a good size otherwise it gets a bit woody. Radish can be added to salads, sandwiches or baked in the oven as they come through. I also pulled up the rest and pickled them.

Pickled radish

4 bunches of radish

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1 teaspoon salt

optional, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Top and tail the radish and clean well. Slice each radish in half then place the flat side down and slice into thin semicircles. Place all the radish into sterilised jars. This amount made two small jars. Add flavour of choice to the jars . I added peppercorns to one and coriander to the other.

In a small pot, add the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Boil for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour over the radish and seal the jars. Store it in the fridge.

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Squash and zucchini

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It’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve last grown yellow squash. These little fellas transported me back to around 16 years ago when I lived in a gorgeous old farm house on a dairy farm in Northern NSW. I had a really good composting system set up for the household scraps and collected well composted cow poo from under the cattle grate to get the veggie patch started. The vegetables were pretty darn good from that patch. I remember having some very prolific yellow squash plants and the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. I can’t remember growing squash since then. Funny how food can trigger memories.

Squash and zucchini are pretty easy to grow and versatile. You can grate them and make zucchini slice, turn them into zoodles as a pasta substitute, cut thinly and bake into chips, add to sauces, soups or curries, and grate into cakes to make them more moist. While there are lots of different ways you can cook with them, my very favourite way to cook zucchini is to grill on the barbeque. Turns out squash is just as good on the barbie. Sounds simple but it is one of those recipes where I do a little happy dance because it tastes sooo good. This little dish tastes greater than the sum of it’s parts, and in this case the parts were pretty good already. I used a flavour packed lemon foraged from a neighbourhood tree, delicious local extra virgin olive oil pressed by my friends grandparents earlier this year and squash and zucchini picked earlier that morning from my garden. A little spoon of my homemade chimichurri on top to serve and I was in heaven. Instead of using salt you can also use porcini salt.

Recipe

Zucchini, cut in half lengthways

Squash, cut in 1 cm discs

Lemon, juice

Olive oil

salt

For the amount in photo above I used the juice of half a lemon, a few tablespoons of oil and a generous pinch of salt. I then gave it a whisk in bowl and then tossed the cut squash and zucchini through to coat it well. Then I cooked it on the barbeque give or take about 5 mins on each side. You should get nice grill marks across the surface and its ready.

 

Coriander

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My little coriander patch has reached maturity and now needs to be pulled up before the early summer heat hits. I’ve been eating a fair bit of it over the last few months but it will bolt to seed soon. I save the seed for growing my next batch of coriander as well to use the seeds as a spice in the kitchen. Before this bolts I’ll be making a batch of my dad’s infamous chimichurri.

Chimichurri recipe

Bunch of coriander
Bunch of parsley
Bunch of spring onions
Fresh chopped chillies (to taste)
1 head of garlic, half crushed, other half sliced finely
30 grams dried Italian herbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Extra virgin olive oil
Chop the coriander, parsley, spring onions and chilli finely with a really sharp kitchen knife. Mix together. Mix in the crushed and sliced garlic. Add just enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the mix. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge.

Loquats

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Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica)  grow all across the Adelaide Plains. There is a giant old loquat tree around the corner from me on a vacant block that fruits profusely each year. The birds don’t seem too interested in the fruit and either do the passers by. Loquats are best eaten straight off the tree warmed by the sun. They have large seeds and not a great deal of flesh which I suspect turns people off collecting the fruit. The flesh of the fruit is pretty delicious with some describing it as a cross between a mango and a peach. I think it just tastes like a loquat and not like any other fruit. The flavour is more delicate with the skin peeled off.

I made a batch of jam and some loquat fruit leather with this lot. Other ways to preserve would be drying the halves like dried apricots or making a delicate loquat jelly. I also read that loquat leaves have medicinal properties and can be made into tea. While the loquats are supposed to be high in pectin, this time I used shop bought pectin to make sure the jam set. The loquats are quite sweet already and only need a ratio of 1 part loquat to 1/2 part sugar for the jam. Pick the fruit when yellow (orange seems overripe to me) and add in some underripe loquats to up the pectin levels if not using added pectin.

Loquat jam 

1.6 kgs of deseeded loquats

800 gms sugar

juice of one lemon

vanilla

pectin (optional)

Add all ingredients to a heavy based pot. Stir regularly, bring to a boil and then a rolling simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Blend with a stick blender if you want a smother texture. Put into sterilised jars and give a hot bath for 15 minutes.

Loquat leather

1.5 kgs of deseeded loquats

juice of one lemon

splash of water

Add all the ingredients to a heavy set pot, cook on medium heat for 5 mins to allow for some of the juices to release. Then get a stick blender to puree the fruit. Place mix on baking sheets on the dehydrator trays and spread evenly. Dry for 7 hours at 70C until dry to touch.

Strawberry beer

Our household has developed a taste for kombucha and at $4 a bottle in the shops I’ve had to work out how to brew it at home. A friend lent me the very easy to follow book on ‘The art of probiotic nutrition’ by Kale Brock. It takes you through step by step on how to make kombucha. If you think it’s hard to make just check out this video from Kale to see just how easy it is.

Remove the scoby and place in glass jar with breathable lid and make sure it’s covered with Kombucha. Put the scoby aside in cupboard. With the rest of the Kombucha it’s time to do a secondary ferment.

While local hills strawberries are in season in the shops the varieties in my backyard come through earlier in October, November and into early December. I used about half a punnet for this recipe.

1/2 punnet strawberries

700 ml kombucha

You need a bottle with a nice airtight lid. I recycled a Bickfords soft drink bottle for this.  I mashed about half a punnet of strawberries and placed in the sterilised bottle. Then I topped up the bottle with kombucha leaving about 2 cm of air. I tapped the bottle to get rid of any air bubbles and gave the fruit a little stir to ensure good contact with the liquid. Seal the lid and ferment for 1-3 days depending on the weather. Put it in a cupboard while it’s fermenting. Test each day and put in fridge when ready.

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Be warned, to get the fizz you need to have a small amount of air up top. I left about 2cm and when I opened the bottle to test it, strawberry beer exploded out the top and kinda went everywhere. I’m not sure if it’s because it has been so hot the fermenting process sped up or if I should have left more air up top or I used too much fruit. Probably a combo of all three. The bad news is I lost about a quarter of the bottle. The good news is my ceiling, walls, floors and everything else in the kitchen have now had a good wipe down and I now have delicious fizzy strawberry beer. I didn’t strain the fruit out but if this was being kept for a while in the fridge before drinking I would strain the fruit out.

I have since read that it’s good to open a secondary ferment using a tea towel over the kitchen sink. And… I’ve found out that others find that strawberry kombucha is extra fizzy. I’ll be making this again for sure and making sure I open with tea towel over sink next time.

Nasturtsiums

I felt like eating some nasturtium flowers and leaves today but the plant in my garden is looking pretty sad at the moment. It died back recently and has about four tiny leaves on it. I had to look further afield so I went down to a patch I know that grows by the river near my house. When I got there it looked like the whole area had been sprayed. Everything was dry and dead, which is why I don’t like foraging in public spaces.

Nasturtiums are pretty prolific so I knew I’d pass some on the way home which I did. The nasturtiums were growing through someones fence onto the sidewalk. There were plenty so I helped myself to some. Nasturtiums can be used medicinally, they are high in vitamin C and have antibiotic properties. I will be using the flowers and young leaves below in a salad.

nastursium

Previously I have also pickled the seeds. A couple of years ago I visited a friends property. She had a huge patch of nasturtiums and doesn’t spray them. They had all gone to seed and there were literally thousands of seeds to collect. I collected the young green seeds for this recipe. The older brown seeds are no good for pickling but can be used to grow new plants. Use the following pickled seeds like you would use capers.

Pickled nasturtium seeds (garden betty recipe)

2/3 cup young green nasturtium seed pods
1/4 cup salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf

Separate the pods into individual seeds, and give them a rinse to remove any dirt. In a jar dissolve the salt in water. Add the nasturtium seeds, and keep the seeds submerged. Let the brine sit for a couple of days at room temperature. The seeds will turn a dull green during this stage.

Strain the seeds and rinse again to remove excess salt.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar and sugar to a low boil for 1 minute and stir to dissolve.

Divide your seeds into small jars, then pour the hot vinegar over the seeds, covering them completely.Add a bay leaf to each jar.

Let the jars cool to room temperature before sealing with lids. At this point, you can either keep the jars at room temp or store them in the fridge.

The pickled pods will keep indefinitely in the vinegar, just use a clean utensil to remove the pods from the jar.