Homesteading, News, Preserving

Weekend news plus Lemon Syrup and marmalade recipe

We’ve had a lovely week apart from all being sick we’ve managed to get a lot done. Our trip North has breathed new life into us and we’ve been feeling inspired and making plans for the future.

The lemon tree has burst into life so the children and I have been busy preserving. So far we’ve made lemon syrup for summer cordials and as we used the cold press juicer to juice the lemons we were left with a large amount of pulp. I hate waste so I decided to experiment with a marmalade by using the pulp and adding some ginger, extra lemons and a orange. The result turned out well so I will add both these recipes to the end of the post.

Another use for the lemon peel has been drying it and then blitzing it in the bullet processor to save as zest for cakes when lemons are scarce. I’ve also been adding it to cheap white vinegar to distill for a green cleaner.

Over the next week when I’ve built up a egg supply I’ll be making and canning lemon curd. Of course this will mean a lemon meringue our is on the cards.

Over the weekend we have been out in the garden making plans, I’ve ordered a new cheapie greenhouse to get us through the summer veg production and spent $50 on seeds from a local seed seller called Seed Freaks. We’d met him at markets and he and his wife are lovely and really know their stuff. They often run workshops around Southern Tasmania. http://seedfreaks.com.au

Our other challenge is dealing with a slight emergency. We have new neighbors on one side of us who has 4 big beautiful Huskies. They are incredibly friendly but unfortunately quite keen on the chickens and have been trying to get through the top of the fence which looked not far off falling over. Mr Hunter Gatherer quickly went out and bought some chicken wire to hold the fence up. We hate spending money on a rental but our chickens who we brought from NSW with us are more than our pets and we didn’t want to risk loosing them. We had hoped this would be the end of it all but last night the dogs dug a hole under the fence and had a party in our yard.

 The chooks thankfully were safe in their coop and the owner was very apologetic but we still need to fix the problem. We’ve spent all day today trying to fix our fence charger for the electric netting working but it looks like we need to order a new charger. I really hope we don’t lose any birds as we hope to take them to our forever farm.

 

Lemon Syrup 

This recipe is for a large amount of lemons but you can reduce the quantity if you like

Juice 2kg of Lemons for every cup of lemon juice add 1 cup of sugar

add 1 litre of water

Slowly bring to boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Once boiling you can either reduce to desired consistency if you are wanting a thicker syrup or take off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of Tartaric acid.

Now you can either bottle and store in the fridge for 3-4 months or bottle for shelf life using your proffered method. Bottled correctly on the shelf it can keep for 2 years.

Use as a Cordial Syrup, dessert syrup, cake flavouring, with boiling water and ginger for a winter pick me up.

Annes Lemon pulp Marmalade

Now this recipe is using the left over pulp (not skins) from using a electric juicer to juice your lemons for the previous recipe. If you do not have a electric juicer just use 1kg fresh fruit sliced thinly.

500g Lemon pulp plus 1 orange and 4 lemons (or 1kg citrus fruit)

1.5 kg sugar

4 Tablespoons of powdered ginger and 20g fresh root ginger

Begin by slicing whole citrus fruit thinly or into small bits. Add with pulp (if using) to a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Cover with lid and boil until peel is soft.

Once the fruit is ready add the sugar and on medium heat stir until sugar is dissolved.

Leave to simmer stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or burning. When jam has reached setting point pour into warm sterized jars and bottle using proffered method.

 

 

Foody things, Homesteading, News

Drowning in Apples and eating well -Beetroot falafel recipe!

Well we’ve definitely been keeping ourselves busy which is good as it keeps us out of trouble!.
Mr Hunter Gatherer is due to start Apple picking soon so we are pushing ourselves to get as much done as possible before he’s away for long hours.

Fortunately Apple prep is something the whole family can get involved in and the kids love using the Apple slinky machine to peel and cut the apples. This is great as we have 6 trees which are all grafted with multiple varieties so we will have apples for months!

We are certainly making he most of the fruit by canning Apple pie filling, hard cider and dehydrating slices, Apple sugar and Apple juice to freeze and enjoy through the year, I’d like to try again to make my own liquid pectin to help set jellies.
From the scraps we are making Apple cider vinegar and Apple scrap syrup which is our version on cheap maple syrup!.
I’d really like to attempt some Apple stroop having recently lost my Oma it will be a homage to my Dutch heritage.

I finally bit the bullet this season and bought a canning funnel for the high price of $2.80 on eBay! Man I wish I’d just bought one of these at the start of my canning adventures as it really does make like soooo much easier.

I’ll also be using Sally wises recipe for canning Apple pulp which I’ll later turn into Apple bbq sauce. I really hate waste so I like to make use of every fruit we preserve in a variety of ways.

We’ve been making a conscious decision to eat healthy and more frugally by getting creative with what we grow. We have a lot of beetroots ready to come up and besides pickling and kimchi I’ve been researching different ways to enjoy them with dinner. I came across a great beetroot felafel recipe which we enjoyed with homemade flatbread and garden veg. I’ll share my adapted recipe with you now.

Beetroot felalfel

2 cups dry chickpeas – soaked or cooked in the pressure canner
2 cups shredded raw beetroot
1 tsp coriander
1tsp cumin
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 handful fresh chopped parsley
1 handful fresh chopped  tarragon
1 tablespoon olive oil

Pop everything into a food processor and blitz until fine crumbs you may need to add a touch of water.

Lightly knead mixture and Roll into balls and place on a baking tray. Bake at 200C for 20 mins or until lightly brown.

Enjoy in salads, flat bread or burgers ūüôā

Pop everything into a

Foody things, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Mid February 2016 and summers over already!

I always do this. I start the preserving season off with so much enthusiasm, Accept fruit left right and centre, excitedly pick the cucumbers and zucchini bringing them in with grand plans then realize the actual preserving HAS to be done before things rot or there’s no room left in the freezer before the next crop is ready (which is right around the corner!!!)

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I’ve picked bags of sugar and blood plums from my neighbors house and I am quickly trying to pick the greengages off our tree in the chook pen. I’ve dried a bunch in the dehydrator, made plum bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, vanilla plum jam , plum vanilla bean with pepperberry, sweet and sour plum sauce and have plans for greengage jam, spiced plum jam and plum chilli sauce. I might also bottle a few jars of whole and stewed plums for cakes and crumbles in the winter. Last season I made a plum chutney but I wasn’t a fan so decided not to make it this year.
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Greengage plums are the most amazing plum I’ve ever tasted completely unique in their flavour and if you ever get a chance to make the jam or eat one fresh I highly recommend it. I have included my recipe below for anyone who’d like to try.
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Soon our apples will be ready and the few fallen ones we’ve eaten have been absolutely delicious! I’ve invested in a cold press juicer and will be making and freezing our own juice. I was considering ‘canning’ it but I think the pressure canning would make the ‘cold pressing’ pointless so ill stick o freezing and fill the second fridge. I’ll also be making lots of country alcoholic cider as I did last year but I’ll be using the juiced apples over the food processor. The apple ‘waste’ will be used to make Apple cider vinegar and Apple scrap syrup or Apple stroop. Nothing will go to waste!

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We have 4 very large pumpkins ready for picking unfortunately not as many as I’d hoped for but we are still getting used to a new climate. The blackberries are ripening and the tomatoes are still not ripe which I think shows how topsy turvy this summer has been. I’ve noticed the smell of woodsmoke a lot on the crisp mornings and feel so out of tune with my suffering friends and relatives on the mainland who are dealing with heatwaves.
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Greengage Jam

2.5kg greengage plums
1 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
1.5kg sugar

As I freeze my plums whole before starting the jam I steam them in the cup of water in a saucepan with the lid on then cut the seed out with a fork.
After this I add the lemon juice and sugar then bring to boil over medium heat until setting point (about 20 mins) once set pop into warm sterilized jars and process using your preffered method. For small batches I just pop boiling jam in sterilized jars and turn the sealed jar over for 20 seconds for large batches I pressure can but waterbath canning is fine too.

Happy jamming!

Homesteading, News, Preserving

From Doom to bloom -Rose syrup recipe

We’ve had a emotional few days here as our much loved Rhode island red passed away. For those who follow me on instagram you may have already seen the story this story but for the rest of you I’ll share again.

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Almost five and a half years ago Russell came into our lives by chance. We were living in the blue mountains and saw her walking along the road outside our house so we herded her into our very bushy overgrown yard. Unable to find her owner she lived in our yard for weeks while we fed her scraps and bonded with her. She would sit on Danes shoulder and wormed her way into our hearts.

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Eventually we converted a green house into a coop and got her some friends. She remembered she was a chicken and gave us eggs, taught us about broodiness on hens and hatched some babies thus our chicken addiction was born.
This addiction led to us to moving to Oberon in rural NSW so we could breed heritage chooks and then led to Dane studying and obtaining a cert IV in Permaculture through Tafe.
Russell taught us everything we know about chickens, gave us food and many wonderful memories. She really was a major instigator in our self suffiency journey and has cheated death many times. Russell was also the reason we brought 9 chooks from the mainland to Tasmania when we had originally planned on taking none. As we couldn’t bare the thought of leaving her we had hoped she would make it to the next chapter in our story when we buy our own land but all the recent rain and damp proved too much and it was with great sadness we said farewell yesterday morning. We converted her body into bio-char and have her stored so when we are in our own place we can buy her some fruit trees and she can be one with the earth.¬†

With all of this life must go on. We’ve welcomed new chicks, filled the greenhouse with seedlings, planted out lots of vegetables and been fermenting lots of the spinach and winter greens we were lucky to inherit when we moved here.
We are also lucky enough to have large amount of roses so I have been looking for ways to utilise this resource. I’m hoping at the end of the season to try and make my own rosehip oil but for now I’m experimenting with the petals. Lots have been dried for tea and later use but some I’ve been making into syrup.

The syrup is incredibly easy to make and I follow the same principles as making the fruit cordials or other herb syrups that I’ve shared in previous recipes.

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Rose Syrup

1 bucket of rose petals
2 litres of water
Sugar
3 lemons
Tartaric acid

Wash the rose petals and put them in a 5 litre food grade bucket
Boil the kettle and pour 2 litres of water over the roses.
Pop the lid on and allow to steep for 24-48 hours
After it has steeped cup measure while putting it into your large saucepan.You can strain the petals or leave them in and strain them at the end.
For every cup of liquid add 1 cup of sugar. Sometimes I do a few cups less and boil longer so experiment to your liking
Stir to dissolve sugar
Add lemon juice and bring to boil then simmer stirring occasionally until you reach desired syrup consistency. I like a thinner syrup as I use it to flavour drinks but if you want to make a dessert syrup simmer longer for a thicker syrup.
Once consistency is met add 1tsp tartaric acid stir and pour into your bottles.

Preserve using your preferred method. I pressure can as it uses less energy and gives me a longer shelf life but you can water bath can or store in the fridge for months without canning.

Enjoy ūüôā

Foraging, Preserving, Uncategorized

Busy Busy

It has been another busy week here. The freezer is absolutely chockers and I had no room to fit in the plums we got last weekend. Over a few days (and in between kid and animal wrangling)  we managed to bottle some whole, make a few different varieties of Jam and sauces, replenish the Worcestershire stocks and try our hand at fruit leather.

I think I have found a new addiction in fruit leather as it’s simple to make and really delicious ( If you are Australian you might know the processed version of fruit leather known as roll ups) . We first tried it in Tasmania where it is widely available at market stalls and I had been researching different ways to make it.

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The first lot we made by simply pureeing the fresh plums adding a little sugar and popping in the dehydrator. I found the puree wasn’t consistent so I tried a different method of baking the plum halves with a sprinkling of sugar on top before pureeing in the food processor. This made a much smoother consistency and resulted in a delicious leather.

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In between all this we managed another family forage for Elderberries. Miss N was kept busy taking photos of us and we filled 3 5 litre buckets and will go for more later when the tree in our other spot is ripe. We tried a few different methods of de-stalking the berries. This is a very painstaking and tedious task and we can see why the berries are not available commercially. The first de-stalking method involved  was freezing the berries on the stalk and then breaking them off this works well in the beginning but as the berries start to defrost its not really that effective.

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The most effective and fastest method for us was using a fork and using it to pull the berries off the stalk. This saved our fingers going purple and got us through the mountains of berries. Elderberries are a antioxidant, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory and is high in vitamin A,B and C

I’ve made up two versions of syrup which is a health tonic to get us through the winter and keep cold and flu at bay. My first version is Raw honey based one it doesn’t taste as good but has the added benefits of raw honey. I’ve decided not to hot process it as I was worried about damaging the benefits of the honey so this one is stored in the fridge. I’ve made enough for our supplies and enough to sell some jars.

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Version number two was sugar based this tastes a lot better and I pressure canned it so I can store it in the pantry.

Both versions contain the benefits of the berries so I really don’t know which is better and I think it comes down to personal choice.

We have also bottled up batches of Elderberry Kombucha and the last job will be making Elderberry fruit leather. Through all this chaos I’m still passionate (and obsessed) with preserving but I really do NOT want to deal with another plum until next year that’s for sure!

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Now we are off to get ready for the Tarana Farmers Markets tomorrow. We love our market days because it’s a chance to share our passion for good food and local produce but it’s also a great way to meet people in the community and we have made many friends since starting markets. If your new to a small rural community and feeling a little lost and alone get out and chat to the stall holders chances are they are looking for new friend too.

Until next post keep gathering!

Foraging, Homesteading, Preserving, Uncategorized

Plum Cordial

It has been another busy week and we are finding ourselves crumbling into exhausted heaps all over the place. I wish we could tap into the kids energy supplies. They are bouncing around and we find ourselves playing with them over doing our chores as it’s more fun.

We have been social butterflys this week catching up with many friends before they go away. We were gifted yet another two huge boxes of Plums so more and more preserving and experimentation is waiting on the kitchen counter.

We also went foraging and got a huge bunch of Elderberries.

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We will be heading out for more tomorrow afternoon after our interview for community radio. This was a very unexpected request from a customer who bought some vinegar from us at the last market and is talking to different home bakers and cooks in the area. I will be sharing with her the same recipe I will share today for plum cordial.

This cordial truly is the essence of the saying “a season in a bottle”. The plum flavour is divine and the colour is vivid. While making it I thought it would make a wonderful natural dye and if I ever manage to find time to add learning the art of natural dye I will be experimenting with some¬†plums (and Elderberries!).

Please read the entire recipe though particularly if you are like me and go for it then realize half way through you’ve done something wrong and have to back track!

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Plum Cordial

plumcordial

Ingredients

1kg Plums

3 Litres of water

Sugar

Tartaric acid

Method

Place plums and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 mins

Scoop out plums with a slotted spoon then strain liquid though a sieve or muslin cloth measuring as you go

For Every cup of liquid add 1 C of sugar bring to boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce heat and simmer for 2 mins then add tartaric acid

Pour into warm sterilized bottles and seal.

If you like you can cook longer to reduce the liquid and make a thicker syrup suitable for Ice cream. You can also use it to flavour cakes, cookies , icing , fillings or in cocktails. Experiment and have some fun!

gardening, Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Small surprises

It’s hot. It’s too Hot. I don’t deal well with the heat it’s part of the reason we chose somewhere that snows. The temperatures have hit the mid to high 30s (that’s Celsius) the chickens are panting, the kids are cranky, the cats and puppy are doing lots of sleeping and I’m finding it hard to motivate myself but still there is work to be done. It’s days like this I question what the hell we are doing. Maybe I should just get a conventional job in a air conditioned office and make money in a “normal” way. Then I am reminded by something about why we chose this lifestyle and why we love it so much. Today it was in the form of a small amphibian hiding in a squash flower and enjoying the cool pool of water.

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It was a beautiful reminder of the wonders of nature and the simple pleasures we enjoy each day.

In other news our visitors have all left us it’s been wonderful having the company of old friends and sharing new experiences but it’s also nice to unwind and go back to our life of hermitude. We are still kept busy looking after a friends animals on their farm while they are away. One of our jobs at their place has been to milk their one uddered goat Dolly. It has been great to experience as diary goats has always been high on our list but our unfortunate goat experience we had early in our journey meant we never got to the milking stage. If you’ve never had goats milk fresh you really must try it. The bad rap goats milk has is all lies and I really would put it at the same level as our jersey cows milk it’s that creamy and delicious. I have certainly had my desire for goats reinforced but I’m sensible enough to know that we need to wait until we buy or are on a more suitable property. In the meantime I will keep drooling over cute pictures of baby goats and researching.

All the extra work we’ve been doing has set me a little behind on preserving. One of our guests very generously gifted us about 10kg of plums!!

¬†Our plum tree is a bit pathetic at the moment it’s a beautiful towering ancient tree that gives generous shade but is very hit and miss with fruit. Our first year we had bountiful plums that were disgusting and bitter! The second we had zero plums thanks to the plague of white cockatoos happily munching then and pooping on my washing line. This year we had about 5 of the most sweet and juicy plums I have ever eaten but not enough to preserve with so you can imagine my joy at such a gift.

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So far I have made 6 bottles of Plum Cordial (Which I will share the recipe for in my next post), Rosemary and Plum butter (Non dairy this is a smoother jam), Plum Chutney, Chinese Plum Sauce, Worcestershire sauce and ¬†Plum Wine which is smelling VERY alcoholic and reminds me of sangria. I’ve got enough in the fridge for some Vanilla Bean and plum jam and then 6KG in the overflowing deep freeze for processing later in the year.

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On top of this we still have our regular Kombucha and JUN bottling as well as animal chores and child education. Life if certainly not boring and despite my small “What are we doing” moments now and again I really wouldn’t have it any other way!