Flavours of the good life

This week The Verve had rights to their hit song Bitter Sweet Symphony returned to them from the Rolling Stones. Whilst we haven’t released a chart topper we thought this could be a case of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, a type of cognitive bias.

We have already mentioned the tension of decision making in a more commercial gardening venture. Yet this still doesn’t alleviate the pang of guilt when we had to pull out 100 odd tomato plants still laden with 20kg+ of green fruit.

It seems silly to say aloud but we develop a close affinity to the plants when we’ve witnessed a whole life cycle. From determined seedlings popping up as surprises to surviving transplant and suffering a terrible batch of compost. From thirsty plants struggling to cope with summer heat to wispy stalks of green somehow producing plump fruits of magnificent colour and umami goodness.

We also took the plunge and knocked the eggplant on the head. That was a season of firsts for us. Unsure how they would grow and how much fruit they would produce. A firsthand understanding of their susceptibility to pests and great lessons learnt for next seasons efforts.

Whilst the rational self understands the argument for getting started on the next crop, it was still a bitter moment to say goodbye to the first residents of our 6 month old polytunnels.

For now we will sit back and reflect on this summer past with a cold bottle of sweet soft drink and reflect on the tenuous link between a 90s song and a homesteading life……

Fruit Compote

We love a tart compote served with a generous heap of natural yoghurt and topped with a crumbling of muesli or drizzle of honey. You can use many different fruits: apples, berries, plums. Medlars provide a richer, sweeter version not unlike Dates, a great foil for a chocolate craving too.

Ingredients

  • 500g or so of your fruit of choice, roughly chopped
  • An acid – juice of a lemon, lime or orange
  • Some sugar – anywhere between 50 and 150g depending on the fruit you choose and how sweet your tooth is.
Method 

Step 1: Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until it collapses into a nice consistency, about 5-10 min depending on the fruit of choice.

You want the fruit to be somwhere between its original chunky state and a smooth puree.

 

Food solutions, presto!

As part of the Huon Producers’ Network’s (HPN) managing committee, we have become increasingly aware of an overwhelming supply gap of local and sustainably grown fruit (gasp! really, in the Huon?!), veggies, meat and dairy. How could a valley famed for the quality of its produce still fall short of providing the community, cafes, restaurants and food businesses with the kind of produce on which the Huon’s reputation stands?

There are some complex economics at play, namely disincentives to grow produce sustainably as a result of consumer expectation for low prices, as well as generational shifts away from farming and towards services and city based industries. Government policies and planning regulations have likely played their part too.

Whatever the reason, these supply issues have come home to roost for us as procurers of local produce to help fill our boxes now that winter is setting in.

Securing a reliable and varied supply of fruit over winter is proving much harder than expected, with minimal citrus readily available in the valley. Other more niche winter fruits are still only catching on and are slow to yield (like feijoa), or old European staples (like medlars) have either fallen out of favour or were possibly never much in favour in Australia to begin with!

We are planning long term and hope, through both our own investment into our orchard and our efforts to build supply networks as part of HPN, that this problem will be overcome in the years ahead. We can’t wait to see more food grown in the valley and feeding everyone within. Oh, and if anyone hears of a good clementine tree please let us know!

Rocket Pesto

Basil & pinenuts are the traditional pesto partnership but the extended family can include any green leafy herb and any tasty seed or nut. This spiky one is particularly good as a dip or spread on sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 50g Rocket
  • 1/ 2 a lemon, juiced
  • a very generous glug of olive oil
  • a small clove of garlic
  • handful of walnuts
  • handful of finely grated parmesan (optional but hard to resist)
  • salt & pepper to taste
Method 

Step 1: Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until combined. Don’t be afraid to add more oil if required.

Alternatively, chopping the nuts and herbs by hand and mixing the rest manually gives you a rougher consistency if preferred.