Archive for May, 2017

Sustainable Food Trust

May 18, 2017

Just found this Sustainable Food Trust site through a link from another blog, specifically this article on whether eating no meat is doing more harm than good.

No comments as yet from me as to whether it’s a good site or not, but I’ll be reading through the articles with interest.


May 17, 2017

A few mushies are finally appearing after the recent rains. I’ve been checking regularly, so that I can pick them before they get damaged by little critters in the leaf litter. There have been more this year than last and the good thing is, they’ve been appearing in spots where I’ve never seen them before, so it means the mycelium is more widespread than I first thought.

While I’ve eaten a few, I decided that drying for future use would be a better option. I wash them first, under the tap, to remove any dirt, then put them in the dryer as is, for a couple of hours :

This removes the surface moisture and crisps up the gills. There’s still a lot of moisture in the thicker part of the cap, so I slice them and put them back into the dryer until they’re really dry :

After that it’s into the Thermomix for a quick pulse to break them into fragments :

The smell when you take off the lid is overpowering!

I’ll use these to flavour casseroles over winter and at the moment I’ve been making a tasty sauce for my fried steak. After the steak is cooked, I remove it from the pan, add a spoonful of dried mushrooms, a dob of butter and a couple of spoonfuls of home-made tomato relish. It makes a beautifully rich sauce for the steak. Yum!

Of course, I don’t have to wait for mushroom season on the property. If mushies are on special in the supermarket, I will buy them and dry them, at any time of the year. I’ve never regretted buying the Excalibur dryer. When I first bought it, I didn’t have solar panels. Now, they run the dryer. Still drying with the sun!

April update

May 3, 2017

Autumn is one of the best times in Melbourne—I love the way the bush looks on misty mornings :

As we move into the cooler months, work in the food garden mainly involves cleaning up the remains of the summer crops—removing tomato plants and climbing beans and getting the tubs and wicking boxes ready for winter crops.

I harvested Jerusalem artichokes. These are some of the bigger ones. There were many smaller ones which I’ve replanted :

Jerusalem artichokes are also called sunchokes. They don’t store very well—about a week in the fridge say most sources, so I’m investigating drying them with a view to using them in casseroles. I’ve sliced some and dried one lot without blanching and another lot with blanching—dropping the slices into boiling water and removing them as the water comes back to the boil. The unblanched ones didn’t go brown, which is helpful as blanching is an extra time-consuming step I would rather not do unless necessary. I tried them roasted—scrubbed but unpeeled—they took about 20 mins to soften and were quite acceptable, with crunchy skins. In the past I’ve just cut them into thick slices and fried them until soft. The carbohydrate in sunchokes isn’t starch as in potatoes; it’s inulin. Wikipedia has this to say:

Inulin is indigestible by the human enzymes ptyalin and amylase, which are adapted to digest starch. As a result, inulin passes through much of the digestive system intact. It is only in the colon that bacteria metabolise inulin, with the release of significant quantities of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and/or methane. Inulin-containing foods can be rather gassy, in particular for those unaccustomed to inulin, and these foods should be consumed in moderation at first.

The production of gas in some people without the correct intestinal bacteria is the reason why they’re often referred to as Jerusalem ‘fartichokes’. I can’t remember having any obvious problems, but then I don’t pig out on them. I just see them as a valuable additional food source that is easy to grow.

There are four pumpkins ripening—Naranka Gold and Kent—two on each plant :

Cherry Guava are ripening. They soften quickly after being picked so I need to find a way of preserving them :

I picked a few pears. Although both trees flowered well, only the Williams variety set fruit and despite trying to get a net over most of it, the birds (or possums) got most of them :

Seeds were collected—garlic chives and Purple King climbing beans :

Kindling wood was chopped for winter fires (actually it’s an ongoing job) :

This is Redbor kale direct-sown in a wicking box. Two different leaf shapes have appeared—not surprising, as this was collected from plants last year and Redbor is a hybrid form, so it looks as though some plants have reverted to the parent forms :

Tamarillos are ripening :

Carrots direct-sown in a wicking box. Looks like I’m going to have to pull up a chair and do some thinning. I over-sowed because the seed was old. I didn’t expect such good germination :

I planted garlic and some cloves didn’t sprout. Haven’t had much luck with garlic the past couple of years, but I keep trying :

Persimmons are ripening. I’ve got them covered in the little nylon socks at the moment. They’ll be more obvious and in danger from bird and possum attack when the leaves have fallen. Last year I picked them when they had some colour in them like these and they ripened inside. I might try that again this year. Every one of these beautiful fruits is more precious than gold :

Asparagus fern is starting to die back. When it’s all dead I’ll cut it back to the ground and fertilise the area ready for spring. I can’t wait for the season to begin again. Last year I was eating fresh asparagus every other day :

Warrigal Greens survived the summer and has taken off with the recent rain. I wonder if I could harvest it and interest a local restaurant in buying it?  Unfortunately, not many people know about it as a nutritious native plant and spinach substitute. Anyway, it makes a useful ground cover :

I haven’t found many mushrooms so far. I missed seeing a huge one the size of a dinner plate. By the time I discovered it, it was infested with slaters. I’ve picked and dried a couple of smaller ones.

Melbourne’s average rainfall for April is 53 mm and we had 89 mm. The first couple of weeks were warm and sunny, but temperatures have dropped into the teens now.

Onwards to winter and warming casseroles beside the wood fire. Bye-bye salads.