Faster, Stronger, Larder

Hey garden pals. I don’t know about you, but these frosts and a growing schedule of out-of-garden things has meant that I haven’t done much in the last month. I have, however, checked out some gardens around Christchurch and want to remind you that frost cloth is such a good idea. Really, truly. Do also ensure your plants are getting a glimpse of whatever sunshine is going. Cheap imitations of frost cloth will often shelter the plants but inhibit their development (or stop them from producing at all) if they are sitting without that light for too long. Just keep an eye on them. Mark their growth in your garden diaries and keep the ground moist. Building on the success of the last post I wrote and the ongoing online support, I have taken a bit of a back seat this time and have compiled even more helpful recipes for those overwhelming influx of produce moments. Facebook is such a good generator for gardening tips! Thought I needed one more go at this before we move back into the dirty business. So here goes! Some recipes my Facebook friends and I have found useful and delicious when dealing with too much of a good thing. Enjoy!

Naomi‘s Input: Annabel Langbein’s Preserved Lemons

She’s practically my hero so it just makes sense that Annabel has a killer preserved lemon recipe up her sleeve.

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 heaped tsp salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Grapeseed or similar neutral oil

Scrub the lemons well and slice them lengthwise into sixths. Freeze the lemon slices on a tray until rigid. Sterilise a medium jar and its metal lid. Take the lemons out of the freezer and pack them into the clean jar. Add the salt and lemon juice and the bay leaf. Cover with oil.

The pickled lemons will be ready in about a week but will improve over several months. Once you open the jar, you’ll need to keep it in the fridge. To use the lemons, scoop out and discard the lemon flesh, then thinly slice the rinds.

Carole’s Input: Piccalilli

Carole generously gave me a piccalilli recipe from her preserving book, but just to simplify it for any piccalilli beginners out there, I have grabbed a River Cottage rendition which I appreciate and makes 3 x 340g jars worth.

1kg washed, peeled vegetables – select 5 or 6 from the following: cauliflower or romanesco cauliflower; green beans; cucumbers; courgettes; green or yellow tomatoes; tomatilloes; carrots; small silver-skinned onions or shallots; peppers; nasturtium seed pods

  • 50g fine salt
  • 30g cornflour
  • 10g ground turmeric
  • 10g English mustard powder
  • 15g yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 600ml cider vinegar
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 50g honey

Cut the vegetables into small, even bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Mix well, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, then rinse the veg with ice-cold water and drain thoroughly.

Blend the cornflour, turmeric, mustard powder, mustard seeds, cumin and coriander to a smooth paste with a little of the vinegar. Put the rest of the vinegar into a saucepan with the sugar and honey and bring to the boil.

Pour a little of the hot vinegar over the blended spice paste, stir well and return to the pan. Bring gently to the boil. Boil for 3–4 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours into the thickening sauce.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully fold the well-drained vegetables into the hot, spicy sauce. Pack the pickle into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately with vinegar-proof lids. Leave (if you can) for 4–6 weeks before opening. Use within a year.

E Cus’s Input: Feijoa Chutney

I don’t really like feijoas much but I have plenty of people in my life who do, and I know that when that tree starts dropping them you are knee deep pretty quick. Plus you can’t eat them all raw all the time because, well, you know why. Even I love feijoa chutney on a cracker with a slice of cheese on top. This recipe I got from a friend, but I think it’s origins are in an Annabel Langbein realm again. She’s such a goddess. I don’t apologise.

  • 1.5 kg feijoas, peeled and chopped
  • 500g apples, peeled and chopped
  • 500g onions, finely sliced
  • 1 litre malt vinegar
  • 750g brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp ground cloves

Place all ingredients in large pan and boil slowly for approximately 1-1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and brown. Bottle while warm.

Ainsley’s Input: Fruit Leather

Fruit leather is one of my favourite treats of all time so I was delighted when Ainsley reminded me that you can make your own fruit leather. I know she has one of those dryer things that helps making drying fruit easy, so I’ve chucked in a simple recipe that anyone can follow – regardless of what you have kicking about your kitchen.

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups of chopped, peeled and cored apple
  • 4 cups of chopped, peeled and cored pears

Preheat the oven to 65 degrees celsius. Cover a baking sheet with a layer of plastic wrap of parchment paper.

In the container of a blender, combine the sugar, lemon juice, apple and pear. Cover and puree until smooth. Spread evenly on the prepared pan. Place the pan on the top rack of the oven.

Bake for 5 to 6 hours, leaving the door to the oven partway open. Fruit is dry when the surface is no longer tacky and you can tear it like leather. Roll up on the plastic wrap and store in an airtight jar.

Yum! Like seriously yum. See you in a month – where I will be getting back into the nitty gritty of your garden while we start to plan for the excitement of spring. Some of these activities in the kitchen could be a nice change for kids who are sitting around home during the school holidays, too. You’ll need to pull them away from Kidsfest and Pokemon Go for a bit in the next two weeks.

Mucho love, E Cus x


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