Summer always seems to be bottling time here at the Convent and this year is no different.
One of my favourites is Onion Jam – a simple recipe but packs lots of flavour and treated as a little pot of gold, given two kilos of onions only makes four small jars. I first made this with home-grown onions as I couldn’t bear just to eat the onions after they took so long to grow. Now I make a big batch, I just buy the onions but still love the result.
Another popular standard is this spicy fresh vegetable pickle vinegar by Tom Kerridge, which makes a nice change from pickles or salad. You just place your vegetables in it 60 – 90 minutes before serving for a fresh tasty pickle. Particularly good with a barbecue, steak, pulled pork, corned beef – well, just about anything. Also a good way to use onions, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum… Well worth a try. Just keep a bottle or two in the fridge for when the mood captures you.
This year, with the Elderflowers making their presence felt in the garden, I think I’ll try some recipes. This one has caught my attention – Elderflower Champagne. This year I have two Elderflowers – the original standard and a newer variegated one that is going crazy and already has berries. I think this recipe may be a good start at experimenting with these plants.
I also have a healthy batch of Sorrel that I’ve never used so will start investigating recipes for this as well.
When I purchased the Convent, I also bought the vacant paddock next door with the hopes of turning it into an orchard/parkland. Well, the best laid plans… There’s been so much else to do that my attentions haven’t quite made it that far, although I can now mow it and have started mulching it in parts.
In the meantime, I’ve done a quick inventory and was surprised by how many fruit trees have found their way into the Convent garden. I had originally planted a small grove of about half a dozen olive trees, which for the most part are happily and healthily growing. The side colorbond fence bed was mainly established out of compost, much of which was kitchen peelings directly thrown on the bed, so a few interesting things have emerged, including a self sown Peach which is looking just peachy.
The citrus are well represented with the back garden path to the church being flanked by 4 limes and 4 lemons and there are a couple of Finger Limes, a Chinotto and a Kaffir Lime spread around the property. Some old fashioned plants have made themselves at home including a fruiting Quince, two Elderberries, a Damson Plum and a very old fashioned but absolutely lovely tree called a Medlar.
I love the leaves on the Medlar as well as the shape, and the blossoms are also quite lovely, however I’ve read that the fruit are somewhat unflatteringly called dog’s arse fruit. I leave that up to you to guess why. The fruit can be used in jams and jellies, however is treated quite differently to other fruits. It is picked but left to go ripe in cool shaded spaces.
In fact it’s called “bletting” which is similar to letting it rot. I’ll be interested in trying this when I get a bit bigger crop. I also have a couple of crab apples which appear to like the area and seem pretty healthy. There’s a small fig that hasn’t really taken off and some Tea Camellias. Vines such as Passionfruit and Kiwi Fruit will add interest in seasons to come.
These plants just need a bit of TLC to get them to the point where they will provide a harvest. In the meantime, I just enjoy watching them grow and become part of the garden.