Real World Gardener Allspice vs Cloves on Spice It Up

December 22nd, 2019


Allspice vs Cloves

How well do you know your spices?

Would you think for instance, that allspice and mixed spice are the same?


Pimenta doica_allspice tree with berries.

Would cloves be a good substitute to save you running to the store, if you ran out?

Let’s find out.  I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from 

Even the Spaniards were confused with the allspice berry when they invaded Jamaica, thinking it was a type of pepper.  Probably why the allspice tree is Pimento doica.


  • The allspice berries  are picked when they're green and put out to dry in the sun.




Allspice and cloves

The heat of the sun activates the enzyme which turns the berries dark brown.

At night, the berries are heaped into a pile and covered with a tarpaulin.

The next day they are spread out in the sun again. 

This process is repeated over three to four days, by the end of which time, a volatile oil develops called eugenol.

It turns out that allspice and basil, also have a lot in common, because both contain the essential oil eugenol. 

That means both are perfect partners in tomato dishes.

  • But it also turns out you can use allspice instead of mixedspice but at 1/3 of the quantity because it’s much stronger. 
  • The clove tree is Syzygium aromaticum. The unopened flower bud is the clove.

If you have any questions, please write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Salt in Spice it Up

September 22nd, 2019



Is salt a spice a seasoning or something else?

Is there more than one type of salt?

Why should we use it rather than leave it out?

Did you know that culinary salts come in two basic categories - sea salt and mined salt?

All this and more about salt. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Let’s find out

Salt is actually a mineral, not a spice which means it doesn’t lose its flavour over time like spices and herbs do.

Salt is used as a seasoning, and is just NaCl or sodium chloride.

Most dishes that would be spiced will contain salt.

There are many types of salts on the market but they fall into two categories.

1) salts with impurities, that give a different flavour.

2) salts with different textures.

An example the first is Murray River pink salt. The colour is pink because of the minerals that the aquifer has flown through.

Rock salt is mined salt.


Murray River Pink Salt

  • Indian Black salt is also mined salt. Initially  the big chunks that are mined are deep purple to almost black in colour. However, when it is crushed, it becomes a pale pink in colour. Exudes a pungent odour.
  • this salt is a key ingredient in  'chat masala' which also contains cumin, coriander seed and asefetida. 
  • if requestingd the salted version of the drink lassi , it will contain chat masala.

All salt originates in sea water, but sea salt is evaporated from liquid ocean water, while mined salt is taken from ancient deposits left by long-dry seas.

Ian's Secret Tip: salt is cheap and heavy and added to some spice blends to make them cheaper so watch out and just buy the best.

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Household Uses of Beeswax

September 6th, 2019


Household Uses of Beeswax

Honey isn’t just the only thing that beekeepers produce.


Beeswax is a by product of honey making.

Did you know that beeswax is an important ingredient in moustache wax and hair pomades that make hair look sleek and shiny?

Well, we’re not going into that so how else can we use beeswax around the home other than for making beeswax candles?


Beeswax food wrap


I'm talking with Markaret Mossakowska of

Did you know that you can also coat things with beeswax, like hand tools, cast iron pieces and shovels to prevent them from rusting out.

You can even rub beeswax on the wooden handle of your shovel to help protect against wear and tear. 

NSW amateur beekeepers associations

The ABA currently has 20 clubs/branches around NSW.

There are also a number of areas where new clubs are being started.

If you need any help finding a club near you, please contact the ABA Secretary.

For listeners outside NSW there’s also a national body,

If you have any questions either for me or for Margaret you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Real Tamarind in Spice It Up

August 15th, 2019


Tamarindus indica: Tamarind

You've probably heard of tamarind, but can you describe what it is, exactly? 

A bean... maybe? A spice... or something?

Spices and herbs aren’t always used in the way you would think.

For example, this next spice you soak then throw away the spice and use the water.

Sounds strange but what’s even more strange, is that even though it has a sour note, you can make lollies out of it.


Tamarind pod

Let’s find out more.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from


The tamarind tree, Tamarindus indica is perhaps not for suburban backyards because of it’s massive height. 18 - 20 m.

Ian recalls driving through a part of India where the Tamarind trees lined the road for over 30km!

Tamarindus%2Bindica.jpgTamarind pods look like pods from the Australian Black Bean tree. (Castanospermum australe.)

Inside the pods is a sticky mass of pulp with seeds and fibre.

Be careful though when purchasing Tamarind for use in cooking because there are 3 types.

  • Asian cooking: use tamarind paste which is flesh mixed with salt and water. DON'T USE for Indian cooking.
  • Indian cooking-use the dried out tamarind pulp, soak that in water and macerate. Drain off the acidulated water and use in your Indian dishes, but throw away the pulp.
  • You can also buy Tamarind concentrate which is the tamarind mixed with water, then boild down to a substance as thick as black molasses. Just use 1/2 teaspoon in your Indian dishes.

Fun Fact:Ever heard of chef Yotam Ottolenghi -- pretty much the "it" chef for all things vegetarian. 
Ottolenghi uses tamarind paste in everything; it's one of his "secret" ingredients.

If that's not reason enough to get to know tamarind, we don't know what is.

Just get the dried pulp to use in cooking but be wary of using tamarind paste for Indian dishes.

If you have any questions for me or for Ian, email us at

Or you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Herbal Thyme in Plant of the Week

July 25th, 2019


Thyme: Thymus vulgaris

Thyme is a herb with a multitude of uses and not just for cooking.

Thyme uses are also as an anti-microbial and is good in a tea for sore throats, and sore stomach problems.


Thymus vulgaris


Thyme is a part of bouquet garni, but you can use thyme on its own in cooking. Thyme is surprisingly, it’s good with chocolate, and try cinnamon and thyme is part of crumb on chicken!

Let’s find out how more.

I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, naturopath and herbalist.

The first thing to consider when growing thyme is that it's a mediterranean herb, so likes the same conditions here. Dry, hot summers and cool winters.

If you don't have a similar growing environment you can of course, grow it in a pot.

To get the most out of your thyme plant, give it a good haircut in autumn.

Lift and divide the plant so that you'll always have plenty of thyme in the garden.

The best culinary thyme is common thyme (Thymus vulgaris).

Creeping thyme or woolly thyme is not recommened other than as a rockery plant, lawn edges or lawn alternatives.

If you have any questions either for me or for Simone, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener NEW Allspice in Spice it Up

July 9th, 2019

Allspice: Pimento doica

Have you ever put the wrong ingredient into something you’ve cooked? 
Perhaps it was just the wrong spice and the flavour wasn’t so good which left you wondering “what went wrong?”


Allspice can cause confusion, so let’s clear it up now. 
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from 

Now you know not to mix up Allspice with Mixed Spice or even pimento. 

Allspice is an individual spice whereas mixed spice is a combination of spices mainly for sweet dishes.

Pimento doica
  • The actual spice is a berry from the allspice tree.
  • Ian tried to grow it on the north coast of NSW but was unsuccessful. Winters were too cold.
  • You can try to grow it but I would recommend erecting a 3-sided shelter out of heavy-duty shade cloth, to surround the young tree.
Allspice has a fruity background note, but it has an aroma that is similar to Basil because both have the volatile oil eugenol present in them.

  • Basil is the tomato herb, and allspice is the tomato spice.

The leaf has an extract taken from it and used in an astringent called 'bay rum." It has nothing to do with the drink called rum, but is used after shaving in a barber shop.

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Lovely Rosemary Herb in Plant of the Week

May 23rd, 2019


Herbal: Rosmarinus officinalis: Rosemary

Dew of the sea, what can that be?

Not a rhyme but a riddle about which herb that grows by the coast, and is used by herbalists and naturopaths.


Rosemary flowers

With a pretty little flower either white, pink or blue and needle like leaves, this herb grows easily and has a minty-sage or pine like flavour. 

No surprises that it belongs to the mint family. ( Lamiaceae).

Let’s find out more. I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, herbalist and naturopath.


LIVE: Rosemary_15th_ May 2019

The herb rosemary, is pretty hardy in any climate zone and most soils.

Rosemary-7558.jpgOne thing it detests is wet feet being a herb originating from the Mediterranean.

Rosemary leaves contain many essential components and strictly speaking, the distilled oil isn't a real oil because it contains no fat.

The main chemical components of rosemary oil include a-pinene, borneol, b-pinene, camphor, bornyl acetate, camphene, 1,8-cineole, and limonene.

Rosemary is regarded as a memory herb, probably because it helps your blood to circulate.

Good for tension headaches and energises you if you drink it as a tea

Steep a large bunch in hot water for 10 minutes in this case.

In Cooking:

Use it scones and orange cake or saute rosemary and fresh mushrooms with some butter. 

In stuffing for chicken, combine rosemary with thyme and sage with either rice or breadcrumbs. Delicious!


If you have any questions either for me or for Simone drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener NEW Vanilla Bean part 2 in Spice it Up

May 15th, 2019


Vanilla bean:Vanilla planifolia "Andrews"


Vanilla tahitensis

Commercially, Vanilla fragrans and Vanilla tahitensis are used but they have less vanillin in them.

Harvesting and curing the vanilla bean is very labour intensive.

Once the green bean has matured, then they are laid out during the day on drying racks.

At night , they are wrapped up in woollen blankets.

This process goes on for 2 months. 

I'ts really labour intensive, but if you missed it, you can catch up on my blog for last week.

There was so much to tell with the story of this spice that I had to split it up into two parts. 

But this episode is about how we can economise with our hugely expensive cured vanilla bean in cooking.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of

Let’s find out.


LIVE: NEW Vanilla Bean Story part 1_24th April 2019

Plenty of tips on how best to use real vanilla in cooking plus a why not make a vanilla flavoured rum? 

Vanilla Flavoured Rum Recipe:

  • Choose your favourite Jamaican rum to which you add 1 vanilla bean and 1 cinnamon quill.
  • Infuse for 1 1/2 - 2 weeks.
  • Remove vanilla bean and cinnamon and you will be left with a transformed flavour that equals botrytis semillon.

Vanilla Bean and Poached Pears:


Vanilla beans when cured, should be supply like licorice.avour comes from actual vanilla orchids these days?.

The rest is mostly synthesized from either guaiacol (which accounts for about 85 percent of it) or


1 Vanilla Bean and champagne OR

1 vanilla bean and sugar syrup of your choice.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

 Remove the vanilla bean and store if canister of caster sugar for a week. 

This gives you vanilla flavoured caster sugar.

NOTE: As long as the vanilla bean hasn't been used on milk, you can use the bean up to 3 times before discarding.

Here’s why you shouldn’t use imitation vanilla.

Did you know that less than one percent of the world’s vanilla fl lignin.

Guaiacol is a fragrant liquid obtained by distilling wood-tar creosote or guaiac (resin from the guaiacum tree).

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Lovely Vanilla in Spice it Up part 1

April 30th, 2019


Vanilla planifolia and cvs

Have you ever wondered how and when the spice trade started?

Maybe not but did you know that nutmeg was once worth more by weight than gold?

Also that in the 16th century, London dockworkers were paid their bonuses in cloves?

There was so much to tell with the story of this spice that I had to split it up into two parts.

Here's part 1.


To produce the green bean, each vanilla flower needs to be hand pollinated.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Vanilla_beans.jpgThe vanilla bean is  a long green bean. When it's mature the beans are put on curing racks during the day, then wrapped up in woollen blankets at night. 

this is done everyday for 15 - 28 days.

It's up to the head curer to judge the readiness of this stage.

After the 28 days have been reached, the beans are then wrapped for a further 2 months. 

Vanilla bean curing is very labour intensive and so far hasn't been mechanised successfully enough to give the complexity of aromas reached by the manual method.

Thanks to Ian’s encylopeadic knowledge of the spice trade we can look forward to part 2 of the vanilla bean story next week.

There’ll be plenty of tips on how best to use vanilla in cooking plus a surprise tip that will just delight you. We’ll also re-cap a little tiny bit of the story.

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Blue Borage in Spice it Up

March 28th, 2019


Borage: Borago officinalis

Summer’s over but some plants keep going to mid-winter.

Regarded as a herb, this next plant is not available in the herb and spice section of your supermarket.

You can find it in the herb section of some garden centres possibly.


Borage leaves and flowers: photo M Cannon

Perhaps you’ve grown it for the bright blue flowers and not really taken much notice of how else you can use this herb.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill


LIVE: Borage_21st March 2019

Borage leaves are rather hairy and don't look appetising at all.

Borage%2Bsoup.jpgYou may have never wondered about using the leaves in cooking before.

But now you know to eat the leaves of Borage. 

Just chop them finely into soups and sauces. 

Make a Borage and Potato soup

Ian recalls a soup his mother made that had potatoes, cauliflower and finely chopped Borage leaves.

  • Saute' a big handful of young finely chopped borage leaves in butter, add 500ml of light chicken stock and a peeled, chopped potato. Cook until potato is soft, then use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve with borage flowers.

Just delicious served cold on hot days.

  • Another tip is to freeze borage flowers in ice cubes. 

Then when served in drinks you have the beautiful and sweet borage flower any time you want.

Growing Borage:

The best time to sow though in many districts is Spring because it’s best planted at soil temperatures between 10°C and 25°C. 

The seeds germinate easily and once in your garden, will happily self sow.

But it's nor really weedy because the seedlings that emerge are quite soft and easy to pull out.

Borage seeds are also loved by chickens.

If you’ve never grown Borage before, now’s the time to start.

Not suitable for indoors but possibly OK in large pots as it’s a tall plant.

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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