Plums, apples, tomatoes (at last!), zucchini (of course)
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26th February 2014

Well, there is definitely food in my back yard at the moment. And the front yard! That's my excuse for this newsletter being a bit late: I have finished drying the coddling attacked apples and nashi pears (cut up with one of those curly whirly peeler/corer/slicer things); bottled a few batches of blood plums; am making worstershire sauce with more blood plums as I write this (recipe below); made one batch of zucchini pickle; frozen a batch of roasted tomato puree. And that's not even made a dent in the piles of produce awaiting processing. My neighbour's peaches and mulberries will have to be thrown in the freezer for processing later this year. And the rhubarb fizz has been such a neighbourhood success that there is nearly always a batch of that on the bench, quietly doing its alchemical thing.

Yes its lots of work, and its fun to pretend martyrdom to the kitchen bench, but its also EXTREMELY satisfying to see the bottles and jars stack up in the pantry. Storing summer's light and vitality for the colder months. What a privilege to have the time and space to grow and then preserve these things.

Worcestershire sauce

Hazel sent me a very timely email the other day with a recipe for worcestershire sauce. I didn't know it was made with plums. The bottle in my cupboard contains anchovies, according to the ingredients list, but no plums. Given all the other artificial ingredients, I'll be glad to replace it with a home made and all natural version. Hazel's recipe looks like one of those family heritage versions with things like "1 1/2 tins treacle" written in lovely old fashioned cursive script, then an annotation next to it that says "1 1/2 litres?".

I found a very similar recipe on the wonderful Sally Wise blog, which you can find HERE. As well as the plums, its got treacle, and malt vinegar, spices, garlic and ginger, and it smells AMAZING as its gently slurping and burping away on the stove. Its a bit eye-watering too, to be honest, but I've quickly learned not to lean over the pot while stirring.

Sally Wise's blog was quite a lovely distraction, with lots of ideas and recipes that will help me out with the remaining abundance of plums. I'll make some more of this sauce too, if its good, as its one of those fantastic "throw everything in and simmer for hours" type ones. Easy peasy!

Zucchini Pickling

We're going to combine our next FIMBY tour with some zucchini pickling. Exciting? Why yes, just ask Danny, photographed here with Rosemary at one of our previous pickling parties! Because we just love efficiency in time and motion, we will meet at Christina's place first to chop everything and salt it. Then we'll go to Helen and Marg's place for garden inspiration and lunch. While we're thrilled and entertained by this fabulous duo and their garden, the pickles will be developing crunch as the salt draws moisture from them. Then we'll return to Christina's place for cooking and bottling.
You're welcome to just attend the garden tour part, or the pickling part if that works best for you. We'll car pool from Christina's place. The new schedule is:
10.30 am - meet at Christina's place
Bring zooks, we'll provide the rest.
If you have no zooks, bring your knife skills to trade for some pickles.

12.00 - head to Marg and Helen's
Bring something to share for lunch. We will provide soup and salads.

2.00 pm - return to Christina' place
We'll cook and bottle the pickles. Should take around an hour. Bring jars if you have them: we have extras.

We also have wine. You're welcome!

Hand tools workshop - not quite yet!

We're not quite ready to present this exciting workshop yet. Both Bridget and the FIMBY mob are doing many groovy things in March, so we will hold this one for a little while. However do please let us know if you're interested, and what sort of things you're keen to know about, so that Bridget can craft the session to suit.

Biochar Trial

We had a fantastic response from people to the idea of the biochar trial. We're currently just working out which spots to select, and will keep you all informed as the trial gets underway. The picture at left is a scanning electron microscope image of biochar - see all those spaces for nutrients, water and soil biota? A veritable condominium! More info about biochar will come later too. Right now those goodies on the kitchen bench are giving me the guilts: they aren't going to preserve themselves!

What to plant now

Keep planting carrots, beetroot, parsnips, leeks, lettuces, asian greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spring onions, celery, silverbeet, parsley, coriander. Soon (in another month or so) you can plant early garlic, peas and broad beans. But wait just a little longer! Check your soil moisture content: as fruit (eg tomatoes) begin to ripen, they might need extra watering since its been so dry lately. Yes, even with the recent cool weather and a few showers. Dig a little hole in the soil. Stick your finger in. Is it damp a few inches down? No? Maybe the garden needs a watering!
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