Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

Cherries, 2015

I have made the mistake of counting my cherries before they hatched.

Cherries 2015

I didn’t bother with the ice this year; we had some frosts right at the start of May. It seems to have worked – I counted 28 cherries before they split from all this rain, and the ants got in and started nibbling.

I got one cherry from the low chill double graft minnie royal/royal lee that I got in late winter.

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Preserved Guavas

.. or guavas in syrup.

My usual method of dealing with the guava crop gives you a giant zip lock bag of frozen guavas, and no easy way to use them. Because they haven’t been individually frozen, the only way to get at them is to kind of whack at the bag until bits fall off, and then use it in a fruit smoothie (which I don’t do).

I had such success with the guava pie, that I have also frozen rectangular takeaway containers of guava pieces, already dotted with butter, sugar and cinnamon. I had planned to premake pies, and freeze them for a later day baking, but it was too much effort and time consuming to do so, what with holding down a full time job, studying, and trying to have a life. I then thought that I could use lay out the guava slices in the rectangular takeaway containers, so that I could pick up individual pieces later for cake making and such. That turned out to be much too fiddly and time consuming – not doing that one again.

Then I discovered the Guava Producers’ Association website, and in particular their recipe corner.

Guavas, deseeded

I had already quartered and deseeded a bunch of the better looking fruit, with the vague idea that I would bottle/can it somehow. I guess guavas are a bit of a rare fruit, because it was really hard finding any information on what type of sugar syrup to pair with the guava. Is guava a more acidic fruit, so can I use a light sugar syrup? Or is it less acidic on the ph scale, so I have to use a heavier sugar syrup? At last here was a solution – 250g in 500ml water, to me is equivalent to a medium sugar syrup.

Here, instantly, was a recipe.

I actually ended up using apple juice (Do you know how HARD it is to find actual apple juice that has been produced in Australia at the supermarket?!!) which I had already purchased (10% sugar solution) – 7 cups of which I then added 1/2 cup of sugar. So that’s ~um ~ 15 % solution. Okay. So it ended up being a very light sugar syrup then. Probably not the best if you’re reusing pasta sauce jars for your preserving.

1 x 2 litre ice cream box of guava quarters
1750 mL apple juice (only 1000mL seems to have been used)
100 g sugar
= 4 small bottles of preserved guavas.

These were then hot packed into their jars, and boiled in a water bath.

Preserved Guava

I tried to leave enough headroom in the smaller jars for water bath processing, but the fruit is not fully covered with the syrup. I think that I’m going to have to open these jars, either remove some fruit/add extra sugar solution, and re-process. I’ve had some green tomato relish go nasty because there wasn’t enough liquid in the jar. Although, pickyourown – preserving peaches seems to indicate that not enough water is OK.

“If fruit is not covered by liquid it may darken during storage (but does not necessarily mean it is spoiled, as all fruits will darken somewhat).”

I later on found the Technical Manual of the FAO of the United Nations (whew, what a mouthful!):

“The packaging medium may be constituted by the juice of the guavas, obtained by squeezing the pulp that contained the seeds. Add sugar to the juice to obtain a certain Brix°, according to the final degree of sweetness desired (usually, the syrup should be of about 30-35 Brix°.”

but I had no idea what a brix was. It turns out that it is a fancy way of saying “percent”; so 30-35 brix means a 30-35% sugar solution.

Apparently a guava in syrup is a totally different beast to fresh guava. So I can’t wait to try it!

Harvest Monday … a little bit late

This years’ guava harvest is early.

But I’m now fighting a battle on ***three*** fronts, up from one last year.

Bats eating the fruit when raw.
Fruit fly laying little grubs whenever they feel like.

And these guys:

Lorrikeets

Bloody lorrikeets!

They like to knaw on the fruit just as it has ripened and about to drop to the ground. They are then scattering the seeds all over the place so it looks like a cat has vomited copiously on my lawn.

Bits of uneaten fruit fermenting in the sun then attract the fruit fly, who lay grubs.

I have been trying to collect the fallen fruit and bagging it to minimise the spread of the fruit fly. But there is so much fruit! 80% of the stuff is affected by fruit fly I can’t give it away. Plus I am so busy at the moment, I don’t have the time to make jam/jelly products.

I have been ‘processing’ as much as I can: seeding and degrubbing the fruit then placing it in ziplock bags in the freezer. Apparently freezing may reduce the amount of pectin, but I’ll deal with it when I get there.

Processed Guavas

So! This week the harvest is:
6kg guava (3kg processed)
1 tomato
Bayleaf, Parsley and Vietnamese mint leaves.

Harvest Monday 16/4/2012

I don’t pay much attention to the garden. I pick what I have when I remember that I’ve got it. I generally plant stuff, forget that I have it, and then the poor produce wilts under the onslaught of aphids or powdery mildew.

Usually I just pick bits of mint, parsley, thyme and rosemary when I need to. You could it a grazing garden.

In any case, I think I ought to document what I have harvested, as and when I do pick the more significant stuff.

So here we go. This week:

harvest

1. Eight Random ‘arisen from the compost’ tomatoes. Yes, I know the photo only shows two. Three are still on the vine, two are in the fruit bowl. One got eaten.

2. Two kaffir lime leaves.

3. Stalk of lemongrass, ripped off the plant. This beast is threatening to take over the entire planter box, and doesn’t even taste very lemongrass-like. Is it from a planted stalk, or an offering from the neighbour? I can’t remember.

4. Five vietnamese mint leaves, provided as part of a pho dinner, which I rescued and stuck in water until roots sprouted.

5. Handful of basil leaves from a friend’s garden.

This all got turned into a rather tasty thai green curry.

In other news: Libby has transferred hospitals, had a pacemaker put in two weeks ago, and was extubated (tube-things removed) last week. This is a test to see how well she can do for herself, but there are still thoughts about a heart transplant once she has put on some weight. She is returning to her usual inquisitive self and very much interested in the thermometers, syringes, echo probes and so on that come her way, always keen to have a closer look and maybe help drive.

Fig Jam

I awoke one morning to a banging at the door. Out lovely neighbour had just ventured out in the rain to harvest some figs. They had planned to make fig jam. A few days later, I find this on my doorstep:
Happy Jam Making!

Hurray for generous neighbours!

The first time ’round, I was out of lemons, so I used the zest of limes and lime juice based mainly on a recipe from the West Australian newspaper.

I substituted 2 small lines for the lemon, but didn’t think about the proportions until I had thrown it in the pot. I got 5 tablespoons of juice to 600g of fig fruit; which was the amount I used to 1.2kg of guava juice when making jelly.

After boiling for 1 hour, it wasn’t passing the ‘sets in a cold dish’ test, so I threw in a random amount of pectin, leftover from the jelly making last year.

Imagine 5 tablespoons of lime juice plus the sourness of pectin and a mere 500g of fruit.

Yeah.

I wasn’t that pleased with that first effort.

So I resolved to try again, with a recipe from The Golden Wattle Cookery book, a heady tome handed out to young ladies graduating from West Australian high schools.

Fig Jam
12 lbs (4.8kg) figs
9 lbs (3.6kg) sugar
2 lemons

1. Wash figs. Cut up roughly, removing stalks
2. Sprinkle over 2 lbs (800g) sugar. Stand overnight.
3. Add juice of lemons and skins (not cut up)
4. Boil until tender. Add rest of sugar.
5. Boil until a golden brown colour. Remove lemon skins.
6. Bottle. Cover while hot and label.

The citrus pith contains a high amount of pectin, which is why I didn’t need to add any to this batch. I also disobeyed step 3, by cutting my lemons into six big chunks. Increased surface area to help to disperse flavour.

I also added one generous teaspoon of very gingery powder ginger.

600g of fruit netted me three 250ml jars. I can’t wait to taste it.

So this is what my jam looks like:
Fig Jam

On the left is batch one, with extra pectin. On the right is the Golden Wattle Cookery book batch.

Next challenge: marmalade!

Guava and Macadamia Nut Torte

After I declared my over-abundant guava crop, I received several links to this recipe by Steve Manfredi in 2007 on cuisine.com.au.

My friend Sarah managed to beat me in trying out the recipe.

I’ve modified it, because I didn’t see the sense in trying extract seeds after you’ve pureed the fruit – seems like a lot of fruity goodness would be wasted. Don’t forget to save the little soft bit in the middle of the seed ball as your own reward.

This was made with a small chopping bowl that comes with my stick blender, as I don’t have a food processor as such.

Guava and macadamia nut torte
400g de-seeded guavas
80g macadamia nuts, processed to a rough meal
150g self raising flour
100g raw sugar
125g softened butter
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon of molasses
2 tablespoon good sipping tequila, rum or whiskey
Slivered almonds for decoration
2 tbsp jam for glazing
Rosewater or orange juice for glazing

Reserving 3 guavas, blend the rest into chunky strips. I had to do this in two batches because my chopper bowl is small.

Guava Torte: Prep, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Crumbled the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and molasses, and mix until combined. Add the guava puree, and stir through. Sift the baking powder with the flour and add this gradually to the wet mix, mixing to combine. Finally, stir in the ground macadamia meal.
Oil, and then line the base of your tin with baking paper and dust with flour.
I had some leftover sour cream pastry from my guava tarts, so I lined the edge of my 25cm quiche/flan tin with the pastry and stuck it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Bake for approx 10 minutes until the crust edge is a light brown, then remove from oven.
Pour the torte mix into the cake tin. Decorate with thin slices of the reserved guava and slivered almonds.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 40 minutes. The original recipe states 30 minutes, but my cake was still terribly soggy at that stage.

For the cake glaze, warm a 2 tablespoons of jam (guava jelly, naturally) on the stove with a splash of rosewater. I thought that if I used the tequila again, it would overpower the glaze. When the glaze is warm, brush over the top of the cake.

I then returned the cake to the oven for another five minutes to set the glaze.

Cool the torte on a wire rack, serve with yoghurt or cream.

Guava Torte, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

I had a lot of fun trying to dislodge the torte from the tin, flipping the cake onto the plate to remove the baking paper before it stuck permanently, and then letting the torte cool from underneath. I then of course had to flip it again so it was right side up. This dislodged and broke more pastry bits off.

Verdict: tastes delicious, and reports were that it was very guava-like in flavour. I unfortunately seem to have become immune to guava taste though! The pastry crust went very well: and would’ve been quite elegant if I hadn’t broken it. The overall effect wasn’t too sweet, and goes quite well with vanilla yoghurt which cut through the richness. The rosewater and jam made me go ‘ew’ when I tasted it on its own, but worked quite well as a glaze.

Lessons learned and possible modifications? I would use less butter, maybe 100grams. I think a lot of the perceived cake ‘sogginess’ was because the butter was still bubbling away. I would also consider substituting cooked guava (the cake still seemed a bit raw and undercooked); and pre-toasting the almonds for a nuttier flavour prior to decorating the torte.

Bountiful Harvest

Bountiful Harvest by A Sydney Foodie
Bountiful Harvest, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Look at this! I took 2kg of guavas to work yesterday to give away, and when I got home there was another kilo waiting for me. Then yet another kilo thumped off the tree overnight!
*happy dance*
I didn’t have a harvest at all last year because I had a terrible infestation of scale, and the bats (flying foxes) were fighting over the fruit every night. So none left for me. This year though, I have way too much.
Charmaine says: “In the middle of the ball (of quite hard seeds) is the sweetest, softest pulp found in the guava, very smooth compared to the slightly granular texture of the flesh outside the seeds.” She’s right!
I’m going to have to make jam over the weekend, because I expect another 4kg by Monday!?!?
Oh my. Every time I turn my back, another one bites the dust.