Harvest Monday, April 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

From my crops, you would be thinking that I’m coming out of winter, going into spring. Nope, I’ve just been such a lazy gardener, I haven’t actually harvested crops from last winter. Why the sudden rush to harvest (probably woody) crops? Because if I don’t get the garlic in the ground LIKE NOW, then I won’t get a good crop.

Last year I got out as many cloves of garlic as I planted. Sad.

Parsnips:
Parsnips

Poor things. My hard rocky ground (clay) meant that they grew up and out and sideways and all twisted. I think that this helps break up the clay, right?

Daikon:

Daikon

I planted about 5 seedlings, obtained via a crop swap. I have one daikon survive, and it’s about the size of a carrot. Hmm. The force is not strong with this one.

One spear asparagus.

Blue jasper tomatoes. Nearly the last of the season.

Cucuamelons

Still going. Every day is a surprise. I can see how you get ‘volunteers’ the following year, as I was getting little cucamelons dropping onto the ground that took me a while to spot. A cucamelon vine is not for one season, I think it’s for life.

Honey:

Honey Bucket

This is almost old news. I harvested yet another two boxes off of a warre hive. This was from the third hive (Lilli pilli hive), the most recent swarm cast – pretty sure from one of the other two hives in the yard. That makes five boxes (60kg approx) of honey in the last month, 72 kg in the current season. About five combs were chopped up to make 30 boxes of honeycomb. The bucket of honey shown above is pressed out of the other 11 frames. I think I need to downsize my apiary.

Rockmelon:
Rockmelon

Australia has just been rocked by a rockmelon scandal, where five people have died and nineteen people have been made sick. Lucky I grew my own teeny tiny rockmelon. About the size of an orange. 160g. I think the seedling/vine (obtained via crop swap) was planted a bit too late in the season, south facing, and competing with an adjoining cucamelon vine.

Fig:
Fig

I told you last month about looking after the neighbour’s fig tree because they can’t be bothered (or they don’t realise that real food grows on trees) . So this morning, when I was putting on extra fruit fly exclusion bags/netting around the figs… I collected one fig. Sweet sweet nectar.

So dear reader, what have you grown or harvested this month?

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HCB Comparo, 2018 edition

The hot cross buns appeared on supermarket shelves on boxing day, 26 December 2017. I resisted until February, then I started walking past the supermarket on a Monday morning, on my way to work. My weakness – mocha hot cross buns, particularly if they were still warm from the oven and slightly undercooked. I can stop any time. Really. I’m not addicted. Then that big supermarket chain “ran out of mocha flavouring” about a fortnight before easter and my hopes were dashed two fold.

This year, we take the HCB smack-down trans-Tasman. That’s right, show us what you got, New Zealand!

Kitchen by Mike ($5):

Kitchen by Mike Hot Cross bun
It was a bit dry from the air as they were all separated in the cabinet. They were cut apart rather than pulled apart by hand. Very dense dough, the glaze on top was very yummy, possibly infused with orange peel. This might have been a bit better if it had been heated in the microwave.
$5 ea.
Kitchen by Mike @ Mascot (Sydney Airport, International)

Zumbo ($2.80):
Zumbo Hot Cross bun

Also taste tested in 2017. Still soft a few days after buying. This was heated in the microwave. Lovely and doughy with a nice strong spice with sultanas and orange peel.
$2.80 ea.
There are Zumbo stores in Rozelle, Star City (Pyrmont), QVB (Sydney City), South Yarra (Melbourne).

Ima Bakery (NZ):
Ima Bakery (NZ) - Hot Cross bun
This bun had just come out of the oven. Not as heavy on the spices as the zumbo HCBs. The bun felt quite heavy, but it was nice and doughy. The glaze seemed to be just a sugar glaze. The custard cross was nice, but it didn’t blow me away like the one from Le Chocoreve. I think that one had a lot more spice.
$5.50 NZD Ea.
Ima bakery @ Auckland, New Zealand.

Amano Bakery (NZ):

Amano Bakery (NZ) - Hot Cross bun
I like the “A” is for “Apple” (or possibly Anarchy or Amano) on top of the bun. Brioche like texture. The bun was a little less heavy in weight than from Ima. The dough was fluffy but more ‘dry’ than the others. Sultanas and mixed peel that left a tingly mouth feel. Interesting, but not a fave.
$3.50 NZD each.
Amano Bakery @ Auckland, NZ.

Wild Wheat (NZ):

Wild Wheat (NZ) Hot Cross bun

The cross is very faintly marked. These are a fave of a mum of a friend of taste tester two, because they taste “wholesome”, and taste tester two is in agreement. It isn’t overly sweet. Spices are noticable, but not too over the top. It left a slight tingling feeling in the mouth which is likely the nutmeg and mixed peel. The glaze/wash on top of the bun seemed to be something more than the usual sugar glaze which was nice. The dough was good, not over the top doughy, but not brioche in texture like Amano.
$3 NZD each.
Wild Wheat @ Auckland, NZ. There is also a Brisbane outpost, I shall have to visit next time I’m in the area.

Flour and Stone ($3.50):
Flour and Stone Hot Cross bun

I had the advantage of grabbing this one just out of the oven. The glaze was very sticky, with bun itself having a good orange peel taste (leaving my mouth tingly), and a solitary sultana. This was last tasted in 2013.

Flour and Stone @ Wolloomooloo.

Earth to Table ($7.90):

Earth to table hot cross bun

If a HCB is ‘raw’, can it really be termed a “bun”? This was very dense and kind of like a HCB flavoured protein ball rolled in coconut. Raspberry Chia jam in the middle.

Earth to Table @ Bondi Junction.

Le Breton ($1.80):

Le Breton hot cross bun

This was an interesting looking cross, yellow in colour and skinny. It actually had a taste (slightly sweet, custard like), and wasn’t inedible. The HCB had a lovely dense dough, not very spicy and a custard-like cross, which was preferential to Ima (Auckland, NZ).
$1.80 ea, 6 for $8.50, 12 for $16.
Le Breton @ Mosman.

Delica:

Delica hot cross bun
Almost like a control, this one was tried originally in 2014.

Not exactly a memorable bun, but I like the cross because it was actually edible and not just a decoration.
$2.40 each, 6 for $12.50.
Delica Bakery @ Naremburn.

Victor Churchill:

Victor Churchill hot cross bun
Super sticky and thick glaze that was a little jam-like. Decent spices. Tingly mouth aftertaste. Very doughy texture, almost as if the dough is still raw.
Victor Churchill @ Woollahra.

San Antonio Bakery ($2.5):

San Antonio bakery hot cross bun
I liked the look of the cross, but it was tough and inedible. Slightly spicy, but a bit of a bitter aftertaste.
San Antonio Bakery @ Kirribilli, Balmain, Coogee.

Zumbo, with salted caramel injection:

Zumbo Hot Cross bun
Is there anything that salted caramel doesn’t make better?
Actually, this.
You take one good thing, add another, but unfortunately the salted caramel completely overwhelmed the taste of the chocolate hot cross bun.
$3 ea.
There are Zumbo stores in Rozelle, Star City (Pyrmont), QVB (Sydney City), South Yarra (Melbourne).

Merchants of Ultimo ($3.50):

Merchants of Ultimo - hot cross buns

Orangey fanta spicy smell. Puffy texture. Good eating when baked on that day and eaten cold. The cross decorative mixture has been used to make hot happy buns as well as hot cross buns. The cross mixture has me a little intrigued, as you can see that it was puffy once, and has defalted with cooling. Perhaps more oil than just a flour water mixture? Reminds me a little of edible paint that I used on the eye pies. This is actually produced by “Bakers Lane”, a concession stand inside the Merchants of Ultimo eating area.
$3.50 ea, 6 for $12.
Merchants of Ultimo @ Glebe.

Coogee Bay Pavillion ($3.50):
Coogee Bay Pavilion hot cross bun

A surprise find, this place was open on Good Friday. Noticible spices in the dough. Spares on the fruit with only cranberries and currants. Dough on its own seemed quite sweet. Nice fluffiness in the dough, but on the drier side. The cross was sweet like custard, and edible when cold.
$3.50 ea.
Coogee Bay Pavillion is @ Coogee.

Saga, Enmore ($4):

Saga Hot Cross bun
“Spiced brioche, tons of fruit and peel, standard cross, glazed with tears from the Easter Bunny” – Andy Bowdy.
Nice strong smell of spices. Very buttery dough, slightly bitter/sour taste from the spices. Once heated, the cross was nice, not too hard, but nothing special. Different sized sultanas that had a nice spiciness and not overly sweet like other HCB.
$4 ea.
Saga @ Enmore.

La Bancz ($3.5):

La Bancz hot cross buns
There was a hot tip on this one having a “custard-like cross” that we used to take for granted from Le Chocoreve. One morning at 7am when the bakery opened, they weren’t available. the next time at 10am, they were all sold out. Third time lucky.
A pleasant fruit bun – was nice to eat cold. Almost no spice flavour with sultanas, currants, cranberries, and a little mixed peel. Very soft pillowy bun. Custard cross was quite sweet and the glaze soaked into the base to make it a little wet. Overall, quite sweet. Still pleasant when heated but does not improve with heating. The dough was noticeably darker in colour than your ‘standard’ HCB; and had a slightly gritty mouthfeel.

$3.50 each, 4 for $12, 6 for $16, 12 for $30.
La Bancz@ Rozelle.

Victorie ($3.5):

Victorie hot cross bun

This one is a strange beast, a franken-bun. The top is croissant. The base is hot cross bun. The HCB dough was nice and gooey. Nice spice flavour without too much bitterness. Some sultanas and mixed peel. Not too sweet.

$3.50 each, 6 for $18.
Victorie Bakery @ Cammeray and Rozelle.

Woolies fruitless
No photo.
Seriously, why bother? Tasted and smelled like plastic.
6 for $3.50

Woolies Mocha
No photo.
When I had these hot out of the oven, and slightly undercooked, you had this heady mocha-spicy chocolate aroma wafting throughout the office. When they were running out of ‘flavouring’ they were a dry and overcooked hamburger bun, and when I stopped to taste them as they were, without the smell crying “eat me, eat me”, they were a little bit ordinary. Taste tester two tried one at an easter bun function at work, and declared that it had a faint plastic aroma.
6 for $3.50

Paddy the Baker (three for $10):

Paddy the baker - hot cross bun

Big, puffy. A slight glaze on top. Taste and smell inoffensive. Not memorable. Not made from the same stuff that the Irish Soda Bread is made of. I don’t think it contains potato. I like the potato bread much better.

Paddy the Baker @ multiple market locations around Sydney.

Verdict:
If we are comparing Le Bancz to Le Breton, Le Breton is better flavour wise (less sweet), and much better value for money. Le Bancz is like a very pleasant fruit bun that is nice to eat cold.

The HCB preferences this year (in no particular order):
Merchants of Ultimo – smells like fanta, and the hot happy/cross bun face motif
Zumbo chocolate – nice and strong on the spices
Victor Churchill – very dense dough, and crazy amount of spicy glaze
Le Breton – incredible value, and a yummy custard cross.

Harvest Monday, March 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’ve been a bit busy with life and work, and I have harvested many things over the summer months. I just haven’t had time to write about it. Not eating completely from the garden, but certainly supplementing what I buy from the shops.

Honey:

About 11kg harvested in February, from Hive no. 2 (Batbox hive). That one was cross-combed like you wouldn’t believe – every single bit of comb built had ignored the directions of the frames, and had been constructed 90 degrees to the frames. No wonder these bees had been bearding all throughout summer, they had built their comb “the warm way”, even though the frames were set up “the cool way”. Stubborn little things!

Honeyccomb March 2018

About 22kg from hive no. 1, harvested in March. This is/was the main hive, the original one – but a few generations along. I managed to harvest a full two warre boxes from this one, probably my first full harvest from this hive for at least two seasons. I had shifted this one away from hive no. 2, so there was a bigger distance between the two and less fighting.

Fwd: Honeycomb

This unfortunately means that this hive is in full shade for most of winter, so honey flow has been a bit slow. About 3 combs were retained to be sold as honeycomb in takeaway boxes (28 of them!), and the rest I crushed as honey.

Cucamelons:
Fwd: Cucamelons

I discovered this vegetable last year through the crop swap, and loved them. Also known as mexican sour gherkins, these are like bite sized cucumbers, and delicious as-is, or in a salad. I got two plants as a swap through the crop swap group, and its lovely to be able to wander around and pick a few when they reach the right size.

Perennial Basil:

Perennial basil

This basil ‘tree’ is about 5 years old. I don’t have the heart to rip out the plant, and the bees really do love the flowers. I notice that if I don’t trim the flower stems back, you get more leaf ‘shoots’ off the old flower stems. So I trim back sections of the basil flowering heads at a time.

Perilla:
Perilla

Also known as shiso or wild sesame. These add a nice flavour to a salad, or are tasty in a freshly wrapped rice paper roll. I used these leaves and the basil leaves to make pesto.

Tomatoes:

Blue Jasper cherry tomato

Blue Jasper. A nice large cherry tomato with a dark green ‘stripe’ on the skin. I have to remember to harvest these before they start to rot. I got the seedlings through the sydney crop swap. I have saved a few seeds for next year, because I do like them. I think I’ve had nearly 1kg worth of tomatoes from one plant.

Sourdough:

Sourdough

I got the sourdough starter through the crop swap group for a jar of honey, and then made a levain which ended up proving for 5 days because life got in the way. After finally making the bread round and proving it overnight, it did rise a little, and I baked it in the oven in my new wrought iron solidteknics pan. It was a nice dense crumb, an almost fruity taste – and hey, I didn’t bake a rock!

Pepino Melon:

Pepino melon

Also known as “tree melon”, the plant started off from a cutting harvested from a Permaculture open day. 18 months later, I have fruit! It is yellow with slight purple/brown stripes. I think the fruit is dependant upon being in sunshine, as an earlier fruit that started growing hasn’t gotten much bigger than a walnut. This one picture is about the size of a tomato or a small apple.

Strawberries:
Homegrown strawberries

There is no fruit as sweet as one picked from your own garden, still warm from the sun. Even ones that have been slightly nibbled by ants or snails (bottom right hand corner).

Other stuff still going in my garden:
I have some promising oranges growing, and I have adopted the neighbours fig tree. I water it, I have put some fruit exclusion bags on it, and I hope to get figs soon. I have also taken looking after the neighbours two orange trees – just watering and de-stink-bugging them when I have time. The place was recently sold by a keen gardener, and it makes me cry to see the inattention and neglect that the new tenants have towards the garden that the previous owner loved so much.

2017 Review Thingy

Questions taken from Shauna Reid, because the actual reverb thingy appears to have stalled on the interwebs.

Previous editions can be found:

2016
2015
2014 part one, part two
2013
2011
2010

The question list is a bit too long to tackle in one sitting, so I’ve divided it into two.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

Um. Zumba! I tried a zumba class, managed not to trip over my own feet, and liked it enough to go back again. and again.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
Once again, I’ve forgotten what my resolutions were. Luckily I have last year’s reverb to check.

mindfulness – yes. Sort of. I participated in a program called power of presence, then mindful in may, then mindful in may continuers. I did get into a bad habit on the train though, of thinking I could multitask, and use both my phone AND meditate at the same time.
being present in the moment – sometimes.
Being grateful for the little things – like a wave, I did it lots at one point, and then not much in others. Sometimes I would stop, look up, and appreciate the lovely blue sky above.
Stop buying stuff. Yes. And no.
Start decluttering. No. I just collected more and more plants, seeds.

This year.

Gratefulness.
100%
Me time.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Why hello there, Chloe.

chloe

4. Did anyone close to you pass away?
Not close to me, but two colleagues passed away recently. It was a bit of a shock, because one of them had just retired early so that he could enjoy time with his family.

5. What countries did you visit?
Taiwan.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?
More travel.

7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory?
I had think about this one. Perhaps the date that I logged into my university website and found out that I had passed my last subject, and as a result …

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I finally finished my post-graduate degree. Woot!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Procrastination. I’m really good at putting things off.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just niggles associated with getting a year older …

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I can’t remember one thing that stands out. I did buy a recently discontinued solidtecknics Cast Iron “Deepan”, whilst I was overseas. Probably bit of an impulse buy

12. Where did most of your money go?

Remedial Massage! My physiotherapist left me (he got a new job), and after finding various massage therapists not suiting me, I finally found a good place. Such a shame it’s on the other side of town.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Home fermentation. I got some milk kefir grains via the crop swap sydney group, and have been trying them out again. If I make small quantities, it is manageable, and I like having a milk fruit “smoothie” (or a fruit lassi) in the mornings. Then I split the grains 50/50, and have been making both milk kefir and nut milk kefir. Nut milk kefir makes really fluffy pancakes, particularly if you have the patience to make the batter the night before. Then there was my kombucha, and water kefir. Oh yeah, and I made miso.

14. What song will always remind you of this year?

Not my “song”, but my soundtrack to the latter half of this year was anything zumba:

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

Can I be both happier and sadder? That’s about different aspects of my life.

b) thinner or fatter?
Much of a muchness. Certainly a little stronger than last year; but not as strong as the year before that. When I changed jobs, I lost access to onsite bootcamp/yoga, and it’s taken a bit of effort to put exercise back into my routine again.
c) richer or poorer?
Marginally poorer, because I keep spending on stuff that “I really really need”, then once I get said stuff, suddenly don’t need it any more.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Time with friends. I think I said that last year.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Christmas lunch with the family on Christmas Eve. Flew out overseas on Christmas Day.

19. Did you fall in love this year?
No.

20. What was your favourite TV program?
I had a bit of a noir thing going.

Midnight Sun (loved it so much, I watched it back to back, twice), followed by Witnesses, then followed by Dicte episodes back to back until she annoyed me with her pigheadedness. All courtesy of sbsondemand. Love it.

21. What was the best book you read?
Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I’m sure I’ve read others, but this one resonated with me, and was read most recently.

Oh!Oh and Gut. Fabulous. I then turned into a microbiome preacher, and how I have little bacteria in my gut that crave donuts, so intuitive eating probably isn’t a good thing.

22. What was your favourite film?
Um. I picked three tv shows!

23. What did you do on your birthday
Didn’t go to work. Had lunch with my mum.

24. What kept you sane?
Lunchtime swimming, and then when the pool shut down (*sob*), lunchtime yoga. Putting in regular exercise as part of my weekly schedule.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Um.

26. Who did you miss?
Still miss my mother in law. I also miss the camaraderie of my old workplace, but looking to build camaraderie at my new(er) workplace.

Pineapple Tepache

Fermenting using fruit scraps.

First encountered through a facebook homebrew group – recipe from Mary Izett’s Speed Brewing.

Comment was that the brew was left for too long, and the end result was like a bad homebrew. The advice was to “brew on thursday, drink on saturday”.

A few months later, I bought a pineapple. Rather than compost or put into the landfill the outer skin, I decided to try my hand at pineapple tepache. Recipe is based upon Sharon Flynn’s Ferment for Good cos I’m lazy.

Skin scraps of one pineapple
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 tsp tamarind paste
1-2 star anise (whole)
1/2 cinnamon stick
Water to cover (approx 1.5 litre in my jar)

This was brewed in my house with an average ambient temperature of 25 deg C (77 F).

Tepache at 0 hours:
tepache 0hours

It smells sweet, like pineapple.

Tepache at 24 hours:

tepache 24hours

There is some fizz action going on. At 24 hours it tastes like a ‘dry’ mineral water (like a champagne can be ‘dry’), with a pineapple nose.

Tepache at 48 hours:

tepache 48hours

Wow, look at that head! You can see by the watermark that the fizz has been at a higher level in the brew vessel and then subsided. At 48 hours it has more fizz and a more alcoholic aftertaste. The brew has started to attract the vinegar flies.

Tepache at 56 hours:

tepache 56hours

I started to decant the wine at this point. Forgetting that it takes ages to separate through my coffee filters, decanting/separating takes another 8 hours. So total brew time got to 64 hours.

I gave up at this point, and switched to using a metal tea ball – that keeps most of the bits out. I’ve added a little more golden syrup to my bottle and a piece of pineapple to “keep it real”. It’s starting to taste on the sour side. It’s probably beyond saving, but I’ll add a little more sugar to the bottle and keep in in the fridge.

Next time if I brewed this again (and why not, it was so much fun!), I would stop the fermentation at 24 hours and use more sugar in the original mix; alternatively let it go all the way to vinegar. Pineapple vinegar!

What about you, dear reader? Have you got an innovative way to reduce your food waste and make something tasty?

Harvest Monday and Garden update, October 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things Harvest related.

October* has been all about the mulberries.

Not mine, just ones foraged off the street. This is the perfect arrangement, as I don’t have to deal with purple stained driveways or washing.

I found two trees on my way to the train station, which I had been foraging from at first. The berries were a little on the small, dry side. Then I found two off a freeway on my way back from a parkrun event which yielded me a 400g reward (all my giant takeaway coffee cup would fit). Finally – my most recent source has been from the carpark at the local pub. I am sure that the mulberry tree has been “very well watered & fertilised” from the patrons, but these berries are super fat and juicy.

The various berries got turned into jam:

Mulberry and Paddy Melon Jam

Paddy melon and mulberry jam. I bought the paddy melon at a street side stall in the Mangrove mountain area, with the intention of eating it and saving the seeds. When I actually looked up “paddy melon”, my melon was the wrong size (too big), and hopefully not of the poisonous variety. So perhaps it was a pie melon (or a jam melon), which feature in a Country Women’s Association (CWA) cookbook.

As well as scary Eye-Pies for a halloween event at work:

Eye Pies

The recipe I got from NotQuiteNigella, but with the mulberry pie adaptation from Allrecipes with only 1/2 cup of sugar to 3 cups of raspberries. Some people seriously have a sweet tooth – my proportions were perfect!

Attack of the lettuces:

Attack of the lettuces

These butter lettuce seedlings were obtained via crop swap. I can see that they’re now bolting to seed, but just before they were ready for my heavy handed harvesting, I got a lot of lettuces and salad mixes from various other crop swaps. Now, the caterpillers and snails love hiding amongst the leaves, so I have to check and wash them quite thoroughly before using. These generally go into sandwiches, but I may have to make a few more salads in the next few days to get the most out of my crop.

Parsley.

I didn’t realise that tabouli is *so* easy to make. With my neighbour, and current tablouli expert away, I used a recipe from the Almond Bar cookbook. I have made a giant batch for a sheep roast BBQ, and a smaller batch for a picnic. The secret? Lots of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and ras el-hanout in the dressing.

I also plan to use the next harvest as a pesto green, another idea I got from the crop swap group.

Honey:

Honey Harvest Oct 2017

We have had a very dry winter, and so the bees have been having a field day. I had two swarms in a fortnight in September (does a bee swam count as a harvest I wonder?), one which I kept, one which I gave away. I nadired three hives (all were full of comb to the bottom), and harvested on frame from the third hive (lilli pilli swarm) which was 3/4 capped. This gave me about 2kg of honey.

Dwarf beans, broad beans:

Harvest of Beans

Three dwarf beans, about five broad beans. I think the broad beans were “early harvest” from Mr Fothergills. I haven’t gotten anything from the tripoli. All my broad beans were planted in May, and had serious attacks of the aphids on the as-yet-unopened flower clumps. I think this has affected the production.

Pomegranates:
Pomegranate

I didn’t grow these. I foraged them off a tree down the road. Alas, I dropped one beauty into the overgrown grass *ahem* on the wrong side of the fence. The fruit is very sweet, definitely worth harvesting again.


Coffee bean seedling:

coffee bean seedling

I told you about this in September I have had one germination out of all of the green coffee beans that I soaked in seaweed solution prior to planting.

Planted/seeded:
– Water chestnuts (I ate two, and have “planted” the other four in water. They are amazingly creamy and crisp, almost like fresh coconut, but without the heaviness. I already have two little shoots poking out)
– Purple tomatillo (cos it’s PURPLE)
– Purple chilli (see above)
– Cape Gooseberry
– Tomatoes, mainly received as part of a swap. The most interesting one I am looking forward to is the blue jasper.
– glass corn/ gem corn. I had 3 seedlings, an attack of the caterpillars, then it’s down to one. Hopefully I can get enough pollination from one plant to be able to grow this more succesfully next season.

Seeds Saved:
– Mustard Greens
– Yellow mustard (the only thing that really grew as part of my Horta mix)
– Rocket
– Pak Choy (Bolted to seed almost straight away, no eating).

So dear reader, what have you harvested and what have you planted this month?

* I am 100% aware that it is now November. Life, exams, got in the way of the timely publication of this post.

Making me some miso

I don’t actually eat that much miso at home, but having gone to all the effort of obtaining my koji inoculated rice, it seemed a shame not to. In any case, I figured that once I had my home made miso, perhaps I could use it as a swap item at future crop swaps; or that I would use miso more frequently.

The recipe I used was based on Sharon Flynn’s “Ferment for good”, and I was aiming for a sweet white miso. Miso keeps fermenting, so I thought that if I started with the sweet white, as it kept fermenting it would settle towards a ‘red’ style miso.

Mistake one: Don’t plan on making miso on your yoga weekend away.

You are supposed to be relaxing. Attendance at all activities is compulsory. And you’ll end up getting super stressed watching your soy beans alternating between refusing to cook and boiling over.

Mistake two: check the batteries in your kitchen scales. Bring a spare set of batteries. Or raid all the kitchens at your yoga retreat for any other sets of scales available.

Otherwise ‘guessing’ the weight of salt ends up with astounded comments of “you put HOW MUCH in?!” when you ask about the progress of your miso in an internet forum.

I ended up with…
500g dry rice koji
360g soy beans
185g salt (Note: Use LESS if you want a sweet white miso)

Pinch test:
Soybean cooked yet

I was supposed to cook the soybeans until the point that I could squash the bean together between my fingers. At this point, I figured “that’ll do”, plus I had one hour to finish this before the next yoga session, lunch, and packing up to go home.

After mushing the soybeans up (very hard to do manually), I then mixed it with the dry rice koji, salt, 2 tbs “starter miso” and soy bean cooking water.
This was formed into balls and then “thrown” into my cookie jar fermenting vessel – to remove the air pockets, and once again “squashed down”.

Capping layer

I put a thin layer of organic genmai miso on top as a protective layer, and then fine salt into a zip lock bag ontop as a weight. The lid on the cookie jar with its rubber seal was placed on top, and then the ‘seam’ sealed with some plastic wrap, and my concoction stored under the house.

Seven weeks later… well I was supposed to ‘turn’ my miso one month in, based upon discussions with another Australian miso maker. I forgot. Also I was busy.

The jar smelled amazing when I opened it up:
Miso - open jar

The miso has expanded above the salt weight during the fermentation process. Or perhaps the action of pushing the lid down has pushed the stuff below up.

After removing the salt weight:

Tamari

I’m pretty sure that the dark coloured liquid is tamari. This is confirmed later on by the internet forum. I excitedly decant this off – later on I smell this again, and it smells a little more alcoholic than tamari like. Apparently this is a problem in smaller batches.

Stirring:
Miso layer

I break the crust, and I can see the top 1cm has darkened in colour. This is definitely a thicker layer of the darker colour than the protective miso layer that I smeared on top originally. I stir the whole lot through, then replace my salt weight and reseal my jar.

So my sweet white miso was only supposed to ferment for up to six weeks. I’ve let it go past that, plus I have no fridge space to slow down the fermentation, so it’ll probably keep on going until I can use it. Under the house is the closest I can get to ‘fridge’ I tasted a little of the tamari – and it tasted yummy and moreish, or perhaps I was just craving salt.