Juicing Day

Well, today was D-Day for juicing all the fruit stored in the shed. Apples, pears and quinces by the boxful have been gathered over the last week or so – from our garden, Stephanie and Nat’s and donated to us by generous friends.

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We hired a scratter from Brew Tas (Liverpool St Hobart) that made short work of munching up the fruit. Apparently it can process up to 800kg an hour.

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Nat bought a 20 ton press and adapted this to use in conjunction with the apple press that a friend kindly gave us last year (thanks Jen and Bob). Nat (and Robert) primarily handled this piece of innovative mechanical apparatus.

IMG_2132Many hours later the juice was all collected and bottled off. The yield was good and we now look forward to many months of happy consuming. Incidentally, the pear juice last year we found to be a little sweet for our taste. Therefore, on a whim it was decided to combine pear and quince juice. It is really delicious – flavoursome and not too sweet.

The preserving outfits were filled twice over to preserve a lot of the juice.

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Apple cider is bubbling away already, and some of the pear/quince juice is being used in an experimental cider (also merrily bubbling).

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What a fun and productive day with family and friends working together to preserve so much of autumn fruit.

As an afternoon tea treat there were fruit buns, and choc chip ones as well. I’ve found a good way to develop a recipe and not forget what I actually did, is to write it down with a whiteboard marker on the stainless steel bench. I’ve included a photo of the recipe here (my bun recipe changes each year – I was quite pleased with this version).

IMG_2143IMG_2138The slow cookers came into their own, making Swiss Chicken soup (served with fresh basil pesto scrolls) for lunch, and Steak and Stout (made into a pie) for dinner, served with lots of seasonal vegetables.  Even a dessert was cooked in yet another, apple and rhubarb cobbler.

Grandchildren Jacob and Charly seemed to enjoy themselves too, running around happily in the alternating rain and sunshine. They decided that the bread oven was a good new launching pad for jumping off and rolling over and over in the grass.

IMG_2147Not much doubt that we are very fortunate indeed to live here in this little neck of the woods.

The strangest sight …..

Sight of the late afternoon. Kitten Truffles, always bold and fearless, seen chasing a large wallaby across the front yard. What’s more, the wallaby was afraid of her, hopping away at a great rate.  What a shame I didn’t have my camera at the ready.

Here she is in a quieter mood, in her basket next to my computer where she sits each day as I work.

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The joy of autumn produce

WHAT(!) was I thinking? There is so much produce needing to be preserved here today – red and green tomatoes, quinces, apples, pears, crabapples, hawthorn berries and more.

And yet this is what I found at a local market – I can never resist a good bag of pickling onions. Preserving those will just need to be added to the ‘to do’ list.  Poor husband Robert has the (self-appointed) task of peeling them all.  It’s just as well he doesn’t mind as I’ve ordered another bag for next week, which he doesn’t know about yet.  Twenty kilos of pickled onions may seem excessive I suppose, but we ran out last year and can’t risk that happening again.  What is a cheese platter or ploughman’s lunch without them?  Inadequate at best.

IMG_2066It’s also time the mint had a serious trim as it’s threatening to engulf the lemon tree. The plan for that is mint sauce, which will be available on the stall at the gate I might add. I’ll also be bottling off Worcestershire sauce, made from delicious, plump local plums, so that will be there as well. Both by tomorrow.

IMG_2057And here are photos of what else is in store for the pots and jam pans today. At least I was able to send daughter Stephanie’s way another large crate of tomatoes for her relish.  Look out for that on her stall (Steph’s Kitchen) at the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival on April 12th.

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With all those potatoes from the garden, I’d like to try pickling a few.  I think they would be nice in salads.  That may have to wait though.

A goodly number of these below will need to be used also, though quite a few will be turned into juice this Sunday, then bottled, turned into cider and/or cider vinegar and peri-peri.  A good amount of it will be bottled and preserved by the waterbath (Fowlers-style) method so we can have a good supply for the entire year.  For this we’re hiring an apple scratter from a brewing shop.  To make the cost of this worthwhile we are going to pick more fruit from friends’ trees.

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Isn’t autumn just wonderful?

Autumn’s bounty

Here are just some examples of produce that is flowing through our door from this wonderful valley of abundance. The tomatoes that were disappointing for so long – well, we now pick about 3 bucketfuls a day.

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Apples, pears and quinces in boxes cover the shed floor, awaiting juicing and bottling that will be undertaken tomorrow afternoon.

IMG_2037 The Preserves cooking class here in the morning will make good use of a lot of those tomatoes, and some of the quinces too. Just as well as many more quinces are arriving on Sunday.  Well need those to make quince paste over the next few days.

Today we’ve been picking crab-apples from nearby in the Derwent Valley, and they will make their way into jelly inevitably, but there’s plenty still to make a batch or two of sparkling crabapple (crabapple “champagne”).

IMG_0785In our garden there are also plenty of elderflowers to make “champagne” and cordial syrup.IMG_2029

The large bowlful of hawthorn berries we picked from down by the river a couple of days ago will make their way into hedgerow cordial, maybe even haw jelly.

IMG_2011The animals here are happy with autumn too, as Tom rolls over in the afternoon sun and mother hen takes her fat little chickens for a walk before their bed time.

IMG_2040IMG_2039The flowering trees and shrubs are also performing well in the pre-winter sunshine.IMG_2024

All in all, and definitely from my perspective, autumn is by far the best time of year.

Apples, pears and quinces abound

Many thanks to those who have given us so many of the above fruits this last week.  The photos show us picking fruit in friend Kaye’s garden on Saturday afternoon (with Louise).  So much fruit from just a few trees, what a great autumn it is!

Kaye’s medlar tree is looking very promising too – no doubt we’ll be making an ample amount of our specialty-of-the-house medlar liqueur this year.

The apples and pears will be pickled and spiced, bottled and then the remainder turned into juice and preserved, ensuring an ample supply to serve us through to the next autumn season.  Quinces of course will make their way into jelly and paste, yum.

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Recipes from ABC segment

Yesterday during the ABC radio Tasmania’s Jams and Preserves talkback segment, there were requests for the recipes for green tomato chutney and sausage rolls.  They will be on the ABC website of course, but in case you can’t access them there, here they are:

Green Tomato Chutney

3kg green tomatoes, chopped

1kg onions, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons cooking salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3½ cups white or cider vinegar

1kg sugar

3 scant tablespoons curry powder

3 scant tablespoons mustard powder

Combine tomatoes and onions in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix well. Cover and leave to stand overnight.

Next day drain off the fluid. Place tomatoes and onions in a saucepan, add vinegar, pepper, sugar, curry powder and mustard. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cook for approximately one hour, stirring often, until the mixture reaches a chutney-like consistency.

Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately. Eat immediately or store in a cool, dark and dry place for up to 2 years.

Sausage Rolls

500g sausage mince

500g beef mince

1 large onion, grated

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

3 teaspoons chutney

3 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 teaspoons tomato sauce

½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

3 to 4 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

Turn oven on to 200°C. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Mix all ingredients except pastry together, making sure that the mixture is very well combined.

Cut each pastry sheet into two equal pieces and brush down one long edge of each piece with water.

Divide the meat mixture into four equal amounts. Form each into a long ‘sausage’ to fit half each piece of pastry, and place one on each.

Roll up and cut into 5 or 6 pieces. Prick each one twice with a fork.

Place on prepared trays and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is well puffed and golden and the meat cooked through.

Now you see them, now you don’t

Breads have now sold out sorry.  However, all is not lost if you had planned to come out and buy some.   If you text or phone me on 0408 569 423. I could have more loaves baked by 3.30pm.

Breads at the gate today

If anyone is interested, on the stall at our gate there are pull-apart loves of bread – pizza flavoured, and ham and cheese. They are fresh out the oven just a few minutes ago. None  are made with commercial bread mixes, but rather made from scratch with best quality ingredients.

They are selling fast, but can make more within a couple of hours if anyone wants to place an order.

Good Day for Baking

What do you do when the weather turns chilly? And when there are bits and pieces of leftovers that need using up? Baking of course. The Anzac barrel was running on empty and now is almost full again.

IMG_1983Some white chocolate that was not-too-successfully melted a couple of weeks ago and was discarded in a bowl in the pantry, has been chopped up with some ageing glace cherries. I made up a recipe for white choc chip and cherry biscuits, that also included half a tin of condensed milk that was lurking in the fridge since last week.

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This autumn weather also calls for a nice robust pumpkin fruit cake so that’s under way as well.

IMG_1984Not a bad morning so far. It’s certainly warmed up the house, as evidenced by Tom snuggled up in his bean bag. I wonder if he ever thinks about the years he spent fending for himself before he became king of the castle here.

IMG_1979This afternoon there are tomatoes to be processed. The ones in the photo are just today’s pickings so far. “They’ll never ripen” I thought a few days ago. Now I have more than I know what to do with. Dehydrate maybe? And bottle the rest for making into chutney later?

IMG_1985Of course I should be cleaning the house, but my old Nan used to say that housework will always wait for you. Sad but true. Maybe later this afternoon I will get to all that vacuuming, dusting and floor washing, ironing……what a bore.

MInd you, it is autumn, and the first of the quinces have come in. Maybe I’ll just make a little jelly before I get to all that …..

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Elderberry Cordial Styrup

I’ve had several requests for the recipe for elderberry cordial syrup, so here it is.  It is delicious and can be used for other purposes other than a drink with water or road water aded.  I use it to favour ice cream for instance.  You could also use it to flavour yoghurt or to pour over a slice of cheesecake or a serve of pannacotta.

Elderberry Cordial Syrup

1kg elderberries

4 cups water

Sugar

2 tablespoons cider or white vinegar

2 level teaspoons citric or tartaric acid

Place the berries and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.

Strain through a colander, and then strain the resulting liquid through a kitchen sieve lined with a layer of muslin.

For each cup of the resulting liquid add one cup of sugar.

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat immediately to a bare simmer and cook for two minutes more. Stir in tartaric acid, pour into sterilised bottles and seal immediately.

Store in a cool, dry, dark place and refrigerate after opening.

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