Real World Gardener Dehydrating Tomatoes and Other Fruit in The Good Earth

May 29th, 2021

Preserving Tomatoes and Other Food Part 2

Last week on the good earth segment, we talked about which tomatoes are best for passata, and preserving.

 
Margaret's cut tomatoes for grilling. photo M Mossakoska

It's time to delve into the world of dehydrating not just your tomatoes, but apples and other abundant fruits in your garden.

Why Dehydrate?

But what about dried tomatoes?

Can you do that without buying one of those fancy air dryers?

  • Dehydrating food preserves most of the nutrients-only losing 3-5% of the nutrients and reduces the volume of your fruit. Dehydrating temperatures can be as low as 30 degrees.
  • Canning loses 60 - 80% of nutrients.
  • Grilling or making passata, also loses nutrients but not as much as in canning.

Sunlight is not the answer for dehydrating, because UV light affects the nutrients of food.,

 

The simplest method is to place the fruit on flyscreens or similar and place under shade, or as Margaret does, under a metal roof, perhaps a back porch.

 
Dehydrated apples. photo M. Mossakowska
  • The next choice is to use a commercial dehydrator.

Choice magazine has reviewed dehydrators.

The overall score is made up of: drying performance (60%) and ease of use (40%). You can see the whole article on the Choice Magazine website (you either pay subscription or pay just to view the article): https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/kitchen/benchtop-cooking/review-and-compare/food-dehydrators or get a copy at a local library for free.

The listed prices are higher than in most shops. Margaret has the Ezidri FD500 model brand new from an op-shop for $10! 

Margaret's Super tip for storing the dried fruits

It's often humid in our kitchen and pantries.

So the best idea, put the dried fruit and jar in the oven after cooking has finished, so the air inside the jar dries as well.

Store in smaller containers so every time you open it, you are letting air in.

Use special moisture absorbing sachets that contain silicon, or make your own sachets from organza material filled with dry rice grains.

Let's listen to the interview.
The was Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

If you have any questions about preserving tomatoes drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Preserving Tomatoes part 1 on the Good Earth

May 29th, 2021

 Preserving tomatoes part 1

Pretty much everyone, from beginner gardeners to the experienced, just love growing tomatoes.
It's easy to see why, they are so rewarding and easy to grow, practically jumping out of the ground as soon as you sow them.
Despite all the problems that can beset your tomato crop, we still grow them year after year, because nothing beats the taste of a home grown tomato.

1-cherry%2Btomatoes.JPG

Fruit Fly?

If you have had tomatoes but they were affected by fruit fly, then use exclusion bags, or net the whole tomato bed.
  • So you might be wondering, but what about pollination?
Tomatoes are mostly self-pollinated, so the pollen drops from the anthers to the tip of the pistil in each flower
Wind helps this to happen by vibrating the flowers, ensuring the pollen loosens and falls.
  • But if you've covered the bed with netting, it's still easy to pollinate the flowers.
IMG_2793_tomato_Black_Krim.JPG

Just whack the stems with a stick to release the pollen, or use an electric toothbrush into the flower to move the pollen from the stamens to the pistil.

So now you planted, fertilised and then harvested, what next?
There's been a bumper season of tomatoes but what do you do with them all?
 

Tomato types and can they be preserved?

Salad tomatoes-not suitable for drying but can be made into passata.
Beefsteak tomatoes-large and fleshy, good for grilling, dehydrating and making passata. Margaret's favourite is Cherokee Purple.
 
Roma tomatoes-the most commonly used to make a sauce or passata.

Grape or cherry tomatoes- great if you don't want to bother with fruit fly exclusion netting. Not for drying, but eating fresh mainly. Good for beginner gardeners.

The was Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

Real World Gardener Marjoram vs Oregano in Spice it Up

May 27th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Oregano vs Marjoram: What's the Difference?

How well do you know your herbs?
You may have a herb garden so are pretty much used to telling the difference between one herb and another, but there are some herbs that look really similar.

  • Have you ever asked one of your household to go and get something like say sage leaves from your garden, and they came back with some catmint or something else?
  • Or perhaps you’ve planted one of these similar looking herbs and have forgotten which is which?
Can you tell which of the herbs pictured below is oregano and which is marjoram?
Oregano.jpg

marjoram.jpg

It’s time to have a closer look and write up a label.
Marjoram and oregano are very close relatives.
Even more confusing because the latin name for marjoram genus is Origanum
 
Scientific name: Oregano majorana
Common name: marjoram
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family
Scientific name: Oreganum vulgare
Common name: oregano
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family

How to tell the difference at a glance

  • Marjoram leaf will generally be a little bit smaller and rounder whereas the oregano leaf tends to be elongated and slightly larger..
  • Oregano leaf will be slightly fuzzy looking in appearance.
  • Oregano grows vigorously throughout the year and is considered a tough herb.
  • Marjoram is likely to die off in colder weather.
  • Marjoram has a milder flavour than oregano.
  • Oregano has a slightly peppery note to it.

Varieties of marjoram
Pot marjoram: Origanum onites

Winter  or wild marjoram: Origanum heraclesticum
 
Varieties of oregano.
Greek oregano: Origanum vulgare hirtum
Mexican oregano: Poliomentha longiflora 
Poliomentha is not to be confused with  another herb also called Mexican oregano and a member of the verbena family, namely, Lippia graveolens.
  • As always, common names will trap the unwary.
Let’s find out a bit more about these herbs and how they can be used in cooking.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
PLAY: Oregano vs Marjoram_31st March 2021
If you have any questions about herbs, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Tonka Beans in Spice it Up

March 19th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Tonka Bean

If you have thought that vanilla was a flavour all on its own, you would be wrong. Here is another bean that not only qualifies as a substitute for vanilla, but also for nutmeg.

Common Name: Tonka Bean, sometimes known as Brazilian teak.
Scientific NameDipteryx odorata
Family: Fabaceae
Fruit:The highly fragrant bean from a flowering tree in the pea family
Height: 25-30 metres. Grey outerbark with inner red wood.

Qualities: the presence of coumarin in the beans give the seed its odour or perfume.

Flavour: Marzipan like
Tonka_Beans.jpg

 

 
Like a lot of members of the pea family that are trees, tonka beans starts as a pod on a tree. 
The pod contains a single bean which is dried like so many other spices.
It’s used in the same dishes that you used vanilla or nutmeg for, like shortbread biscuits, custards, cream brulee' and so on.
 
To harvest the pods, they are picked when fully mature and have fallen to the ground.  Then they are broken open with a hammer to reveal a wrinkled oblong 2.5cm seed.
When this bean is cut in half lengthwise, it has a creamy white centre.
  • These beans are placed in the sun to dry, activating the enzymes within the bean.
  • But did you know this bean has been banned in America since 1954 because of the coumarin present? Coumarin is also present in cinnamon and that's not banned!

Tonka beans may be grated like nutmeg before adding to a recipe or soaked in warm water or milk to infuse the flavour.

  • Tonka is a strong spice, so only use in similar proportions to nutmeg.

I you wish to grow the tree yourself, it's a very pretty flowering tree suited to the tropics and sub-tropics. Not a tree for frost prone areas. The plant itself is not available for sale, but you can buy the seeds from overseas sellers.

 
Tonka%2Bbean%2Btree%2Bin%2Bflower.jpg

 

I am talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
Let’s find out more

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

 

Real World Gardener Mulled Wine and Jelly in Spice It Up

February 25th, 2021

SPICE IT UP

Mulled Wine and Mulled Wine Jelly

Are you missing the Christmas spirit? In Australia it was mostly too hot around Christmas time to partake in mulled wine. Winter isn't that far away, and for some people, Christmas in July is a thing.

That would include mulled wine.
Right now though, you could make some mulled wine jelly to relive some of that Christmas cheer which just seems like a faded memory.

You may have heard of the spices that go to make mulled wine, a traditional drink in the northern hemisphere at that time of year.
But here in Australia, it’s too hot, so what else can we do with these spices?

Traditional mulled wine spices contain allspice berries (ground), cassia bark (Asia version of cinnamon), ginger, dried orange peel, and cloves.

Mulled%2Bwine.jpg

 

METHOD: Mulled Wine
In a saucepan 
POUR 1 bottle of red wine
ADD1 cup of brown sugar,
ADD 1 fresh lime
ADD 1 fresh quartered orange.
ADD2-3 tablespoons of mulling spices.
SIMMER gently for 30-40 minutes DO NOT BOIL
STRAIN: into a jug and serve while warm.
If you’re keen to experiment with your own recipe, then use real vanilla pods, cinnamon quills, fresh citrus and star anise at the very least.

Apart from mulled wine jelly, and mulled wine fizz, there’s also mulled wine glazed ham. So experiment away. Listen to the podcast to find out more.

I’m talking with Ian Hemphill from herb and spice expert from www.herbies.com.au
PLAY: Mulled wine jelly_9th December 2020
If you have any questions about spices in mulled wine spice mix, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Fermenting Vegetables part 2 in What’s Cooking

February 25th, 2021

FERMENTATION PART 2

Dry Fermentation Process: we're doing a cabbage.
The whole leaf on top of the shredded cabbage is the 'plug.'
Leave some headroom in the jar so the fermenting process doesn't bubble over.
The cabbage should start bubbling which is the fermentation process.

fermenting%2Bcabbage.jpg
LEAVE it out of the fridge but in a cool spot such as a tiled floor.
WAIT ten days then taste it. Before this time it doesn't taste very nice.
You can leave it longer if you like.
PROBLEMS:
White yeast growing on the surface needs to be removed otherwise it will spoil the flavour.
If you see mould, throw it out and start again.
Once you like the flavour, put it in the fridge, it will slow the fermenting process.
Let's find out more.
 

Real World Gardener Vegetable Fermentation part 1 in What’s Cooking

February 25th, 2021

 THE ART OF VEGETABLE FERMENTATION

Have you ever wanted to ferment vegetables but thought it was a bit too hard?
Perhaps you’re an avid fermenter but need to know more.
In this new segment I find out that it’s actually easy to start fermenting.

Holly describes herself as an 'old fermenter.'

Sauerkraut_Jar.jpg
Jokes aside, what's the first thing you need to know before you start fermenting any vegetable.
Do you need high end equipment?
Let’s find out more.
 
Fermenting is a process that happens in the absence of air.
It turns out that a clip lock jar or a glass jar with a screw top lid would suffice. Or you can use a plastic jar.
NOTE: the lid needs to have a coating on it which most would have if they were on jars that were bought with food in them. These jars are perfect for re-purposing for fermenting.
Cabbages and other root vegetables are ideal for fermenting.
METHOD:
PICK a cabbage that is heavy for it's size, preferably an organic one.
Should be dense and tightly packet.
STRIP off outer leaves.
CUT the cabbage into four and cut the heart out of it.
SHRED your cabbage finely, Holly likes it between 3-5mm in width so it has some crunchy.
If your ferment comes out mushy then air has entered into the process.
ADD 20gms of fine ground sea-salt to every kilo of cabbage.
RUB sea salt into cabbage until it releases moisture-make sure it's vigorous , releasing plenty of liquid.
There should be enough liquid to completely submerge the cabbage in the jar.
STUFF into a jar and cover with the liquid.
PLACE one of the previously discarded whole leaves on top of the shredded cabbage in the jar.
I’m talking with Holly Davis, whole food chef, and educator.
PLAY: Fermentation Part 1_25th November 2020

Real World Gardener Allspice vs Cloves on Spice It Up

December 22nd, 2019

SPICE IT UP

Allspice vs Cloves

How well do you know your spices?

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

Syzygium%2Baromaticum_cloves.jpg

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 www.herbies.com.au 

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%2Band%2Bcloves.jpg

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

Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Salt in Spice it Up

September 22nd, 2019

SPICE IT UP

Sea%2Bsalt.jpgSalt

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 www.herbies.com.au

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.

blur-ceramic-ceramic-cup-salt.jpg

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 Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Household Uses of Beeswax

September 6th, 2019

THE GOOD EARTH

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?

food-storage%2Bbeeswax%2Bwrap.jpg

Beeswax food wrap

 

I'm talking with Markaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au

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 https://www.beekeepers.asn.au/

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, http://www.honeybee.com.au/beeinfo/assn.html

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

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