Posts Tagged ‘locavore’

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:


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:


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.


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!

Green Tomato Relish

The weather in Sydney this summer has been really bad for growing anything other than mould. My marmoude tomatoes have been beset by fruit fly and snails. It has been so depressing – of the 1.5kg of green tomato I harvested to make this relish, 50% were rotten or had a little white worm inside.

This recipe is delicious. I could not stop ‘taste testing’ it, it was so moreish. I think it has something to do with the mellowing of the apple cider vinegar.

Green tomato relish recipe from farm girl fare

800g green tomatoes, chopped
200g white onions, chopped
300g red banana chillies, bull horn capsicum or normal capsicum deseeded and chopped
1/2 lb. tart cooking apples, such as ‘Granny Smith’, cored and chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup organic apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sea salt*
4 jalapeno chillies cored, seeded if desired, and chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped coriander*
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, onions, peppers, apples, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about an hour.

Meanwhile, sterilise your jars. Wash them in hot soapy water, boil them for at least 10 minutes, and dry them in a warm oven (160 deg C) until you’re ready. Take care with the seals, if it is a two piece lid, the bit with the seal doesn’t go in the oven.

Stir in the chillies, coriander and cumin and simmer for 5 more minutes. Purée the mixture using a stick blender.

Green tomato relish

I like my relish chunky; so puree half the pot at most, and then mix through so it is evenly distributed.

Grab your jars from the oven (don’t burn yourself!) and fill carefully using a tablespoon., leaving a 2cm headroom. Wipe any spills on the rim and seal the jar.

This made enough for three off 500ml jars for keeping, and one to have in the fridge for eating straight away.

Green tomato relish

I actually first made this relish last year. This was after I moved a tomato plant from a 20cm pot to a giant planter box just before winter, and had an enormous crop of green tomatoes. On the left is the green tomato relish, on the right are two jars of guava prepared in the same way.

*I found that if you don’t use the coriander, the mix needs a touch more salt. Add an extra 1/2 tablespoon to compensate. I also think the relish is delicious as-is without the cumin.

Potatoes for dinner

homegrown potatoes by A Sydney Foodie2
Potatoes for dinner, a photo by A Sydney Foodie2 on Flickr.

I really need to remember that I don’t need to buy any potatoes, and that I have my own stash.

Most of the time I forget. Here’s what I scrabbled out of the garden for dinner a few week’s ago.

The offspring said ‘ew’ when I showed him my grubby haul in the process of being washed. I guess that ‘in reality’, potatoes grow in supermarket plastic bags.

This lot got turned into a simple potato salad with mayo, capers, pepper and parsley from the garden.

The trick is to dress the potatoes whilst warm and it turns into deliciousness. Usually I add fresh sliced mushrooms and cooked yellow button squash.

I also tried making a version of a potato chip inspired by my frienddoingsomethingnew* . You slice your potatoes about matchstick thin, and then fry them up on the BBQ with oil and paprika. I marinated my slices in crushed rosemary, salt, pepper & olive oil. This got fried in a pan. The edges went brown and burnt. If you didn’t eat them right away, they went soggy. I still haven’t worked out the trick with these. Probably a deep fryer.

*yup, that’s right; I was at her place slicing potatoes, and then I went home and did the same thing!

Guava Butter

After throwing kilos of boiled guava “pulp” after making myguava jelly into the Bokashi bucket, I thought I would investigate using it. I am supposed to be minimising my impact upon the environment

Charmaine had a recipe for Guava Butter

Guava Butter
Per cup of de-seed boiled guavas, leftover after making the jelly:

3/4 cups of sugar (184 grams)
Strained juice of one lime (approx 1 tablespoon)
Heaped tablespoon of softened butter (15g), in small chunks.

Don’t cook more that 4 cups at a time, because you can’t get the mix hot enough.

Put the de-seeded guava pulp in a large bowl, and microwave to steaming.

Add in the softened butter and lemon juice, stir.

Microwave for 2 minutes at a time, stir to combine until thick and piping hot.

The butter needs to be steaming hot because that’s how you maintain the sterilty and longevity of your goodies.

Spoon the guava butter into hot sterilized jars out of the oven.

Fill each jar almost to the top with a 1cm gap.

Seal immediately with new jar lid, or
the Fowlers Vacolla ‘kleerview’ plastic jam covers. These are neat, because as the contents cools, you can see the seal being sucked back towards the jar.
The steam seems to permeate through the seal whilst hot. No doubts that hot air takes up more space than cool air!

If using the kleerview seals, screw on the original jar lid on top to protect the seal. I’ve been doing this after the contents have cooled down, but I’ll report back later in the year if this destroys my plastic seal.

I only had enough space in my big bowl to do 3 cups.

You can also cook the guava butter on the stove, but because it is so thick, it spits all over you and the stove.

So here we are on the far right: my very first batch of guava butter.

Guava Jelly and Butter, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

And it tastes *so* good.

I won’t be giving this one away!

I wonder though – how long does this last? It does contain dairy after all. If you used clarified butter (ghee), would it last longer?

Guava Bread

Are you tired of guava related posts yet?

Thankfully now when I look up into my tree, I see fewer yellow globes waiting to hit me on the head, and the daily harvest is smaller.

Well I just had the most brilliant idea. Guava bread.

I was trying to find the banana bread recipe from the blog that was something like ‘living on $200 food budget per fortnight’*. Instead I ended up at africhef

Guava bread.
3 mixing bowls
1.5 cups of cooked guava (leftover from the guava jelly)
2 eggs
2 cups processed bran sticks similar to All-Bran cereal
2 cups plain flour
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup softened butter (approx 30grams)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
Walnuts to decorate

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In bowl one, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt.

In the second bowl, combine the processed bran sticks and squashed cooked guava in a separate bowl and let this mixture stand for approx 5 minutes.

In your main mixing bowl, crumble the butter and sugar together, fold in the eggs and then the guava/cereal mixture. Mix well.

Add in the sifted flour gradually to the guava/bran bowl and mix until the flour is evenly distributed through the mixture.

Guava Bread: Prep

, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

The resultant mixture was very very sticky.

I have no loaf pan, so I greased a 15x15cm square pan and lined it with baking paper.

The bread mixture was dolloped in. Walnuts were added after each ‘dollop’. The mix didn’t want to leave the mixing bowl, it was that sticky.

Place in the preheated oven and bake the guava bread for 60 minutes (timing from original recipe). I suggest starting at 30 minutes, and checking every 10 minutes.

When a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean it is all cooked. It looked quite consistent all over in colour, so I glazed it with cold guava jelly/rosewater leftover from the guava and macadamia torte, and returned to the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove the guava bread from the oven and allow to cool for 5 mins in the tin. Turn out onto a rack to complete cooling, and remove baking paper immediately so it doesn’t stick.

Guava Bread

, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Serve with as-is, or with guava butter or jelly!

Verdict: Yum! The glazing added some nice caramel sticky bits, and the walnuts gave nutty crunchy goodness. The guava bread was a little bit sweet, but not overly sweet or oily like banana bread can be. I must be immune to guava flavour now, because I couldn’t find any!

Lessons learned and possible modifications? As mentioned before my guava bread was a bit overcooked. Cook for less time! I would add some spices like cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg which would add another nice dimension. Because there was no in your face guava flavour, I might try using fresh grated guava next time for a proper guava flavour.

*this is the banana bread recipe I was looking for.

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

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.

Fresh Guava Tart with Guava Jam

So what is the best way to deal with my over abundance of guava fruit? Having made guava jelly and butter, and given kilos and kilos of the stuff away, I thought that I should package it up in a tart and feed it to my colleagues.

I was aiming for something like tarte tartine, but with guavas! *evil cackle*

1. Pastry
I made sour cream pastry. However perhaps because of the humidity, I needed 1.5 cups of plain flour to the butter and sour cream.

The extra flour was enough for a large 27cm quiche tin, and five 10cm taster tins.

I oiled the tins, and put a round of baking paper in the base to assist later removal. The finished product comes out quite easily, so this might be unnecessary.

Blind baked the pastry for about 15 minutes, or until light brown.
2. Guava Jam
I figured sliced guava on its own might be too plain in flavour, so I made jam. I didn’t read the recipe properly, so like on autopilot, I made as per guava jelly and boiled my guavas.

This is my recipe, modified from the link above.

3 cups guavas, de-seeded and simmered (as per guava jelly)
1.5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1/4 tsp salt

Boil the lot, and then have it on a medium simmer for about 30 minutes.

I had the mixture bubbling for 20 minutes, and kept stirring to stop it spitting.

This gave me enough jam for a thin layer in one large quiche tin, four small 10cm tasters, and one 500g jam jar for later consumption.

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

3. Guava Tart
Half an apple, thinly sliced.
3-4 fresh guavas, de-seeded and sliced into strips.
Guava jam, to taste.
Just baked pie/tart crust.
Allspice, cinnamon, brown sugar.

Smear a thick layer of jam on the pastry baked base.

Starting with thin slices of apple (optional), create the main pattern on the pastry, and then infill with strips of fresh sliced guava. Go on, don’t be shy, if you’re trying to use up a day’s harvest of guavas, you’ve got plenty to spare.

Sprinkle, allspice, cinnamon sugar and brown sugar. I had some Chinese five spice lying around, so that went on too.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and the fruit has reduced a little.

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

Verdict: yum! Evil in this case is justified.

Lessons learned: use heaps more fruit. Also, how do I make nice professional looking pastry edges rather than rustic homemade edges?

Guava Jelly

So I had an over abundance of guava fruit, and needed to do something with them before I was driven insane with too many guavas. I had already given kilos away to neighbors, colleagues and family, and kilos were arriving by the day.

Since the flying foxes had discovered my tree, and although I like the idea of guava jam, I think it would also remind me too much of bat-poo, so Charmaine offered guava jelly.

The following are my interpretations of her recipe, with some consulting online.

Guava jelly
1. Obtaining the juice
2kg guava fruit, halved
Water to fill just below the top level of fruit.
Knob of Ginger, julienned

Bring to a boil, and simmer for about an hour until fruit is soft.

Boiling up Guavas, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Cool slightly, then pour into a muslin cloth* which has been wrung out in water so it does not absorb too much of the juice. Allow to drip slowly preferably overnight.

Draining the juice, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

*Yes, I really did use a delicates laundry bag for my muslin cloth substitute.

This yielded just over two litres of guava juice. This smelled quite sweet, and nothing like guava.

Leaving the bag overnight didn’t really give me much more juice than the initial drain. This may be because of my muslin bag substitute.

2. Making jelly
1250ml guava juice
920g sugar (3 3/4 cups)
Strained juice of five limes (approx 5 tablespoons)
33g pectin (“25g per 1.5kg fruit”)

Cooking no more than five cups of juice at a time, allow for 3/4 cup sugar and the juice of one lime per cup.

Bring to the boil, add sugar and lime juice. Stir until sugar dissolves. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Draw pan away from heat, and add pectin, sprinkling over it if it is in powdered form.

Once more, bring to the boil and boil hard, stirring, or until jelly from the side of the spoon in two or three slow drops, joined by a ‘sheet’ of transparent liquid^. this is a good indication that a good set will be obtained. Do not skim the surface while cooking, or much of the pectin will be lost.

I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the jelly to reach ‘sheeting’ stage, and it didn’t. In the end I was boiling on-and-off for about an hour before I gave up. The stuff was setting as a skin when left on abandoned spoons after all.

I had been sterilising my jars in the meantime, and pulled my jars out of the oven just as I turned the heat off the jelly.

I’m still unsure as what I’m supposed to do at this stage. Do I drop in some paraffin wax on top of the jelly? Am I supposed to fill the jars all the way to the top?

I forgot to read up before I did this so I don’t think I did this quite right. I filled up each jar almost to the top (I suspect it is supposed to be all the way), with a 1cm gap.

I had these new Fowlers Vacolla ‘kleerview’ plastic jam covers which appear to seal the jar. You wet the outside, stretch it over the rim, and then fasten in place with a rubber band. When it dries, it is stretched taut and goes all crinkly like cellophane. But then what? Do I screw on the original jar lid on top, or am I supposed to attach my very own tartan tablecloth jar cover? I settled for the former, on the basis I might accidentally pierce the plastic cover without it.

So here we are on the far left: my very first batch of overcooked guava jam.

Guava Jelly and Butter, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Batches two and three were a lot lighter in colour. I followed the suggested timing of 5-10 mins boil, add in pectin, and 5-10 mins hard boil; with a preference for a shorter boil time so the jelly would not be as sweet.