An Abundance of Fresh Produce
Whether it is witnessing an exchange in a cafe or a table on a friend's farm, the back of a ute at our produce swap or neighbours and friends stopping by with a delivery of fruit or veggies, I never tire of the colours, aromas and conversation surrounding the sharing of fresh seasonal produce.
This week the very first harvest of a carambola tree was brought into the local organic cafe - Sol Foods Organics in a hand woven, clay based basket from Papua New Guinea. No plastic, no packaging, just beautifully fragrant ripe star fruit. The true gift of exchange.
Word quickly gets out that my family and I appreciate this food that is often grown in abundance over a very short period of time and can be classed as 'ugly' by some with odd shapes or the occasional insect bite on it. We have the knack of using it all up, using it in an array of dishes and platters, or pickling, fermenting or snap freezing or a combination of all. Whatever we don't eat is recycled through the chickens and then the compost. Other 'waste' products such as whey, chilli/garlic concoctions and apple cider vinegar is used directly in the garden.
Right on cue, at the moment of Winter Solstice as the days started to lengthen, the new hens started laying eggs. The rooster seemed to fill out in the blink of an eye and become the protector of the hens, the one who will stand up to the occasional run in with a goanna, or a curious neighbourhood dog. I do hope his instincts to protect the flock are genuine and he is fearless. In the meantime he guides the hens to patches of tasty ground covers, digs into the wet soil looking for bugs or does his little dance display to entice the girls. Nature has a way of working with the seasons to produce the best results. If we stop and watch it long enough, we too can work with the seasons.
Receiving new or unusual produce in bulk brings out the curious nature in me. Never wanting anything to go to waste, and not wanting to spend too much time preparing it I reach for google to find a variety of uses for it.
Within a few days of each other we received two large bags of local, spray free, ripe lemons. I like to cook aunthentic dishes from around the world so with the lemons in mind, and calling on my facebook friends to put forth some suggestions this time, I decided to preserve lemons Moroccan style. It is a simple recipe whereby you quarter the lemons and pop them in the freezer for 24 hrs before salting and packing in sterilised jars with lemon juice to top cover them. I haven't yet opened them, but will the next time we cook a Moroccan dish. I used this recipe from taste.com.au
I also made lemon butter, well my 11 year old had finished making it by the time I got home. I was just in time to help teach her to sterilise jars! The last option we had for the lemons, besides dressings on all of the wonderful salads I have been making recently was a lemon and vinegar cleaner. It is a basic vinegar re-ferment so that the sugars in the fruit are firstly turned into ethanol then the ethanol is 'eaten' to form acetic acid. The cleaner was especially good on glass and mirrors and gave a lemon fragrance to the room.
With the 20mm of rain we received last night the gardens are sure to be brimming with abundance. I will share more recipes and stories of our seasonal produce with you.
The Barefoot FarmHer