Friday, February 28, 2014

Preserving peaches

Bottled Golden Queen and Black Boy peaches

Just sharing a couple of photos following on from my last post where I mentioned preserving some of our peach harvest. I've only recently started preserving fruit so this is all quite exciting!

The yellow ones are Golden Queen and the purple is Black Boy. I could have done another jar of the Black Boy, but we want to eat the ones we have picked fresh! :-) There is more fruit on the tree, just waiting for it to ripen.

I used a light sugar syrup (1 cup sugar to 4 cups water), and my trusty Fowler's Vacola for the water bath process. It seems to have been successful, as all the seals are good. I guess if you are doing quite a few jars that would be the test. One thing though, as G pointed out, I could have put less fruit and more syrup in the jars as once opened obviously there is a limited time to eat all that fruit..! I will do this next time, plus will also try to obtain more of the smaller sized preserving jars (1pint/600mls). This time round I used them all up for the tomato sauce and relish.

Preparing fruit for bottling

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

'Airships' and continuing fruit harvest

Madeleines aka 'airships'

Lately I've been making batches of the little French butter cakes known as 'Madeleines'. You need to chill the batter in the fridge, which works well for me because I can make it in advance then cook up as and when required for a lovely treat. My soon to be 7-year-old D calls them 'airships' because of the hump underneath! In any case, they soon disappear. I won't give a recipe because there are so many on the net, basically it's butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla and lemon zest. I used my homemade lemon extract which is lemon zest soaked in vodka. I have silicone madeleine pans which makes getting the cakes out when cooked a simple task.
Our citrus orchard is yet to be performing well, so I don't often have my own lemons on hand. Limes yes, and lemonades, but not lemons. Sometimes we receive a lovely big boxful of Meyer lemons from my husband's dear aunty (thanks L :-)!) as she has an established tree. Our citrus orchard is still very exposed to the elements and the little lemon trees are struggling to grow. In a couple of years the feijoa hedging will make all the difference I'm sure, and with better wind protection, they'll be away.

On the other hand, we have had a fantastic year for stonefruit, with peaches and nectarines galore. I've made loads of chutney and jam, and have also bottled some of the fruit, giving the Fowler's Vacola a good workout and filling up my pantry shelves tout de suite! We are now picking our lovely purple 'Black Boy' peaches, which are just delicious! Will post photos soon.

Unfortunately after a great harvest, the tomatoes were getting badly attacked by plague of green shield bugs. They were also going quite 'mealy', so I decided to rip them all out, salvaging the last of the fruit including any unripe ones, just in case I feel the urge to make some more chutney...! The last lot of ripe tomatoes have gone into a delicious Indian spicy relish which I have made this morning. It will go very nicely with a curry. I found the recipe on Pinterest - here's the link.

Spicy tomato relish

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tomato sauce time

We're still harvesting loads of huge beefsteak tomatoes (Brandywines) which is great, and keeping me very busy in the kitchen! I've frozen lots and also made a basic sauce (for pasta and also pizza once reduced down to thicken it up).

I've made several batches which are all now stored away in the pantry for use in the coming year.

My trusty electric Fowler's Vacola preserving kettle (water bath unit) is doing a grand job and makes preserving a lot easier. Once done it can easily be emptied of the water using the tap on the side. It was a great score from a charity shop, a fraction of the price of a new one.

We had some of the sauce tonight in homemade meatballs and spaghetti, if I do say so myself it was delicious! You just can't beat homegrown tomatoes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beautiful NZ - a video

Just sharing a video this morning, sent to me by my lovely brother. Nothing to do with CTF.

Something beautiful to start your day.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blackberry time

This year we are very lucky to have found a good source of wild blackberries on the farm. In past years we've had to go walkabout to find them, often not too far afield, but further away than our own property. So yesterday afternoon we went out armed with containers and picked a whole lot, not stopping until the sun went down and the light failed us. We enjoyed a fabulous sunset.

There are still more left to pick but as it was raining (well drizzling) today we didn't get to go back for them.

Meanwhile, the close to 4kgs of blackberries we picked yesterday are now frozen awaiting to be added to pies etc.

Sometime very soon I shall be boiling up fruit to make jam. We have an abundance of peaches, plums and now blackberries! Now where did I put all my spare jam jars?!...