Rose Geranium Based Drinks in the Kitchen Garden

December 24th, 2021

KITCHEN GARDEN

Rose Geranium 

Scientific name: Pelargonium graveolens

Family: Geraniaceae

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Rose geranium leaves (photo Corinne Mossati)

 

Personally I’m a fan of scented plants whether it’s the flowers or the leaves.
I just love to inhale their perfume either by sniffing the flowers or touching the leaves.

This next plant, the rose geranium, is not just your ordinary scented geranium because of its many uses.

Sure you can get by just inhaling the perfume after crushing the leaves but why not think about it’s culinary uses, especially in festive drinks. 

First let's talk about the plant.

Rose geraniums are quick growing especially in the warmest months of the year.

Expect this to be a small bush of 1-2-1.5meters with leaves that are soft to the touch, slight hairy and deeply incised as pictured on the right. 

Rose geraniums grow best in full sun but can tolerate part shade. Also frost and drought tolerant.

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Rose Geranium spritzer (photo Corinne Mossati)  

Keep pruning the leaves to make your rose geranium plant into a tidy compact form, otherwise it will tend to flop over and sprawl a bit.

Don't throw away the cuttings or prunings as all geraniums root easily and quickly. 

Just cut a piece or stem of about 5cm long, first removing the bottom two-thirds of leaves. Pop this piece into seed raising mix in a small pot or you can even place cuttings in water.

Rooted cuttings soon grow into plants that make great gifts to give to friends.

But don't waste those leaves, because what better way to use them, than making a rose geranium syrup to pour over ice-cream or a rose geranium spritzer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start off with making a rose geranium syrup.

All you need is 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chopped rose geranium leaves.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati, founder and editor of Gourmantic Garden and Cocktails and Bars  Corinne has provided the links to the recipes below.

Rose Geranium Syrup recipe http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/rose-geranium-syrup-recipe/

Rose Geranium Spritzer http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/rose-geranium-spritzer/

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Indian Cooking Class in Spice It Up

December 24th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Indian Cooking Class

Forget those jar sauces and ready- made pastes that you can buy in supermarkets.
If you want a real curry, you’ll need to make it yourself but aren’t they complicated?

Well they can be but that’s why you need an Indian cooking class.AVvXsEhe1x4Bnp9OSPut7bCC3UP4-YDixD1hL3lMF1NF48XYomZiVw9CqB_NJm-MaO5JO4Uj3T2opoY-4E3zA0lKy3CcdYzmaJy3Gfj-d6OPRfmitE3vFX07eE_m6jXevfi4KbolNG3Rkz33GerIxI68FvT4LIiN8idZKx6xufpA6u3O37ICNDXMmAA-YZoLrw=s320

  • Ian's spice kit is named after Christine Manfield's new cookbook called 'Indian Cooking Class.'

If you're a bit daunted by Indian recipes then would be chefs would find this very useful.
In this segment Ian takes us through what some of the most often used spices are in Indian cooking and why they are so important to Indian cuisine. 

Some of these are:

Ajowan seed

Methi or Fenugreek leaves.

Panch phora- a spice blend

Chaat masala is a spice blend containing cumin, black salt, fennel seed, amchur or green mango powder, and garam masala-(fennel,caraway, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper) and Asafeotida..

Gunpowder spice blend.

  • I have now tried the 'butter chicken recipe twice for this book and give a 5 star rating. As good as if not better than restaurant butter chicken.

You start off making a roux with chick pea powder and canola oil

Then marinate chicken pieces in a spice blend that is made from a ginger/garlic paste, kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, sea salt flakes, methi, and cardamom ground. Add the spices to yoghurt and coat the chicken, then marinate for at least 4 hours.

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Butter Chicken-photos M Cannopn

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

Well now you know what some of those weird sounding spices are that are used in Indian curries.

You don’t have to buy the book and the spice kit, but it’s a way to kickstart your armchair journey to the spices and curries of India.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Dill versus Fennel: What‘s the Difference in Spice it Up

December 18th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Dill versus Fennel

How well do you know your herbs?
Have you ever used fresh dill in any recipes?
Perhaps a dill sauce, with smoked salmon or in a potato salad, but what about fennel.?
Those feathery fronds of dill, have a similar smell to fennel, so can they be used interchangeably? Dill is pictured here but it looks similar to the feather fronds of fennel doesn't it?

So how can you tell the difference between dill and fennel fronds?

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Fennel bulb and frond

Dill fronds are slightly finer and a darker green than fennel fronds.

Dill has a higher anise or licorice note when you crush the leaf.

Fennel has the same level of anethol (active enzyme) but tends to be sweeter.

  • Seeds or both dill and fennel are used in cooking and are referred to as a spice.
  • Seed flavour profiles differ from the fresh plant. 
  • Dill fronds are sometimes referred to as 'dill weed' in recipes.

    Dill seeds are used a lot in pickles, but don’t have magical properties.

    Ian’s great tip was when using fennel seeds, dry roast them which by the way gives satay sauce that special flavour.

    • My favourite use of fennel seeds is in home-made sausage rolls.  

    I mix 150 grams of beef mince with 300gms of pork mince, 1 grated carrot, 1 grated potato (raw), w teaspoons of chopped sage leaves, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds,  salt and pepper to season. Divide mixture onto puff pastry sheets and roll up with join side down onto baking trays. Bake for 15 minutes at 220 C until golden.

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Dill or Fennel flowers?

Let’s find out by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au 

If you have any feedback email 

realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

 

 

Murnong Yam is Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

Murnong%2BYam1.jpg

PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 3

Scientific Name: Microseris Lanceolata

Common Name:Murnong Yam

Family:Asteraceae

 
Yam Daisy

Native Habitat: found in a wide range of habitats in Australia: these inlcude mallee, slerophyll and sub-alpine communities.

Description:-Strappy, linear green leaves above underground tubers that emerge after rain in Autumn.

Height-Width: 30cm x 30cm

Flowering: yellow daisy flowers in spring-autumn.

Fruiting:fluffy seedheads (known as achenes), similar to dandelion seedhead.

Position: Full sun and part shade. 

Attributes: Dry tolerant once established and can grow in sandy soil.

There are many bush tucker plants that are not that well known and this is another one of them.

  • Yam daisy plant can be hard to identify in the wild because it looks like a lot of other yellow daisy plants, including dandelions and flatweed, also called cats ears.
  • The main differences: flat weed has a rosette of hairy, wavy-edged leaves that sit flat on the ground, while murnong has upright lance-shaped leaves. 
  • Murnong flower stems have a curved, drooping top as the bud develops, then straighten as it opens, whereas flatweeds and dandelions are upright as the bud is forming. The white tubers are nutritious and sweet tasting They can be eaten raw or baked, mixed with other vegetables or turned into a paste for dessert.
  • It is possible to buy the seeds of yam daisy plant online.
  • To find out more listen to the podcast. I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley horticulturist

Success with Coriander in the Kitchen Garden

September 18th, 2021

 THE KITCHEN GARDEN

SUCCESS WITH CORIANDER

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
I mentioned before that certain herbs that look alike and again I find myself talking about another herb that confuses people.
 
Australians refer to the seeds and leaf as coriander but in the northern hemisphere, the leaf is sometimes known as 'cilantro.'
Coriander is one of those herbs that people either love it or hate it.
Do you love it?
 
1-coriander%2Bleaf.jpg
Coriander leaves

Coriander is easy enough to grow but being in the carrot family,(Apiaceae) its green leafy tops can look not only like other herbs, but other vegetables!

  • My guest, Toni Salter in the podcast, calls it the 'primadonna' of herbs. 
There are many things it doesn't like and without a second glance, coriander will bolt to seed giving you not much leaf at all.
What causes it to bolt to seed?
  • Soil is too dry
  • Too little water at the right time.
  • Poor or impoverished soil.
  • Poor drainage in your herb garden.
  • Temperatures too warm for it's liking.
  • Temperatures too cold for it's liking
  • Transplanting-the worst sin.
Problems with germination?
Try soaking the seeds for a few hours in a shallow saucer of water.
  • TIP: Always sow the seeds directly into the position where it will grow.
Sow it into a container if you like, but keep it there.
Coriander loves rich fertile soil, much like your vegetables.
coriander%2Bseedlings.jpg
Coriander seedlings

When to Sow in Australia

For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
Temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
In cool temperate zones, October to November,

  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.

Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.

Companion planting: plant coriander near your spinach to confuse the grasshoppers.
Let one or two plants go to seed. The flowers attract beneficial insects after which the coriander seeds can be harvested to use in cooking, once the seeds turn brown and crispy.
coriander-seeds-on-a-drying-plant.jpg
Coriander seeds drying on plant
A must if you like Asian cooking and even though coriander looks like parsley, as soon as you smell it, you know what you’ve got.
 

Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.
In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make a Thai Green Curry paste.

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Toni Salter www.theveggielady.com.au
PLAY: Success with Coriander_8th September 2021

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

 

Winter Savoryvs Thyme in Spice it Up

September 18th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP   

 SAVORY VS THYME

Often there’s a couple of herbs that look alike and even have similar flavour profiles.

If you had them growing together in the herb garden, you may even confuse the two because of how closely they look to each other.

Thyme is the better known herb in Australia, which from the 1950's was commonly used in soups, stews, scones and casseroles.
For some reason, savory is not very well known in Australia, but it’s commonly used America and England.
In England, and America, it's quite popular and in the US, winter savory is a key ingredient in the stuffing for the 'Thanksgiving Turkey.'
Recently%2BUpdated21.jpg

If you rubbed both herbs without knowing which was which, you would most likely think they both were the same herb.

  • Winter savory, unlike thyme, is not sold as a cut herb in the produce aisle of your supermarket.
  • Confusingly there is a 'summer savory' which tends to die off in winter and usually not come back.

Looking after both herbs

With their tiny leaves, both herbs are adapted to the dry regions of the mediterranean. 
Both herbs are in the mint (Lamiaceae) family, but unlike mint, don't  feel you need to give either thyme or winter savory heaps of water with the exception of the hottest days in Australia's summers.
  • I've never seen the seeds of savory being sold however if you have a pot of winter savory that's overgrown and become leggy, follow these tips to refresh it.
  • Dividing the roots  in spring, will rejuvenate the plant.
  • Start off by trimming about a third of any wrapped or circling roots.
  • Divide the root ball into thirds or quarters, making sure that each section has a healthy piece of root and stems with green leaves attached.
  • Remove one-third of the top growth, and trim away any dead or damaged stems and leaves.
  • Re-pot into new containers and gift some to your friends.

But can you substitute one for the other?

Thyme has the volatile oil: thymol which is a strong natural antiseptic.  
wild%2Bthyme%2B2.jpg
Wild thyme growing amongst a rocky outcrop

You only need to use a small amount to get the flavour, and is a key ingredient in mixed herbs.

  • Did you know there are over 100 varieties of thyme?
  • The wild thyme of Provence is known for its strength of flavour. Think 'herbs de Provence' is a blend with this wild thyme.
The answer is yes, both herbs are interchangeable, but savoury is less pungent than thyme.
  • You will find winter savory, Satureja (sat-you-rea) montana, as a plant sold in most garden centres.
  • So time to get some of your own.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Winter Pruning of Figs in Plant Doctor

August 18th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Figs: 

Ficus carica is the edible fig that hails from the Mediterranean.

Fig trees aren’t quite as ubiquitous as citrus trees are in the produce garden but they are still a firm favourite.

What's not to like?
They are delicious to eat fresh and or dried, plus nothing beats home grown figs. 

There are a few different types: 

  • 'Black Genoa' is typically a large growing fig tree and not suitable for small back yards. This is a fast growing heavy cropping tree that produces large sweet purple skinned fruit. Good for inlan Australia but not so good on the far north coast.
  • White genoa-great for drying about half the size of black genoa: also grows well in cooler areas.
  • Brown Turkey  good for eating fresh, is a very hardy tree that does well in inland areas.
  • White Adriatic-a green skinned medium to large fruit.
  • Dwarf Brown Slow growing and compact this small tree can be kept at about 1 - 1.5 m in height. Great for small spaces and pots and smaller backyards
There’s a only few things you need to know when attending to those trees and believe it or not, winter time is one of those times.
In fact, winter time is the time you need to go out and take a look at your fig tree, assessing it for what to prune and what to leave
fig%2Bfruit.jpg
 
  • When you first get your fig tree, prune the tree by half; cut it back to 3 or 4 branches.
  • Prunings can be used to propagate more trees as the cuttings take root very easily.
TIP: figs like to grow in shallow soil which has been enriched with limestone. 
  • pH 8 is an ideal for figs, and you can do this by adding crusher dust to the soil. 
  • What is crusher dust?
  • Crusher dust is a blend of small crushed blue metal rocks and finer dust.
  • Either add it to your pot or to the soil.
  • Incidentally, crusher dust is a great medium for striking 'slow to take' cuttings.

Getting Down To Pruning

Steve’s tip is to prune new fig trees by half when you get them, but for older trees, prune one-third to one-half each year. 
  • We are looking for the new growth to supply the current season's fruit.  
  • Prune out any limbs that are less than 45 degrees to the trunk. Keep branches that are more or less at right angles to the main trunk.
  • Remove any branches or laterals that are less than half a metre from the ground.
  • If you need to, you can now bring it into shape but otherwise you have done your main pruning.

So let’s find out what more needs doing.
That was Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.
PLAY: Pruning figs_7th July 2021
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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.

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