At the bottom you will see the finger limes. They are the newest thing (almost) in haute cuisine and an oz native. Inside them are tiny beads of citrusy taste. Like the microbeads that they are trying to ban at the moment, except these are naturally occurring and fully edible. They look and feel like caviar and are tremendous fun.
Except for trying to figure out what to do with them.
Real chefs put a dollop on a plate for garnish which is OK. But a dollop here or there is not going to use up a tree full of fruit. Hubby adds them to drinks where they promptly sink to the bottom or stick to the side of the glass. They’re nice when you can get a mouthful of them. And they DO NOT dissolve.
One good use of them is in tabouleh which is traditionally made with cous cous balls. So the lemony balls fit right in and keep the nice lemon taste in the salad which is normally added with the lemon juice.
So today I decided to make a batch of lemon cheese (or lemon butter or lemon curd, depending on your nationality) and I added what seemed like a huge amount of finger lime balls into the batch when I cooked it. It took 90 minutes to cut open the little fruit and scrape out the flesh. If you were to look real close, you’d be able to see a hint of the little green balls in the yummy. I’m fairly happy with it because they stay in one piece while you’re cooking and they keep the burst of tart lemon taste in the lemon cheese which can tend to be really too sweet.
So that was fun and worked. Just a note about bottling the lemon cheese. These are old jam jars which are cleaned well and kept for jams. I sterilize the jars in the oven while I’m cooking the jam so they are heating for quite a while. Then I take them out of the oven and bottle the batch straight away. So you are putting quite warm jam into quite warm bottles. While yelling and blowing on your finger tips, put a double layer of greaseproof paper over the top of the bottle and put the lid on tightly. So the unsterilized lid never touches the jars or the batch. When the whole thing cools down, it creates a bit of a vacuum seal which helps to keep the jam good.
Lemon cheese contains whole egg so I refrigerate it at all times. But with a fruit jam, sauce or something that doesn’t contain protein, I can use the warm bottling method and some things keep for a year on the shelf with no cool storing. Some last for longer. Always use your own judgement when you should eat something and unlike me, it’s often nice to label with date of making so you don’t die from 5 year old jam. But honestly, I haven’t killed anyone ever….with jam.
There has been a lot of media coverage lately on the use of the word “witch”. Well, in a totally gender free and non derogatory way, I thought I would introduce you to history’s greatest witch deflector – the elderberry.
There is evidence of the flowers of this being used in Neolithic times as a tea flavouring (before real tea from China was invented). When I was a kid, all the old farmhouses in the bush had an elderberry tree planted generally by the front or back steps and I was warned never to eat the little black berries as they were poisonous. Even then I wondered why you would bother with something you couldn’t pig out on. It turns out that all those little old celtic and teutonic farmwives understood the importance of witchproofing your house entrances with a good, old elderberry. I must say, that I have not had any problem with roaming witches since planting these.
Also the fact that the photo is taken hanging out my bedroom window should tell you that its summer here and I’m not going outside, even for a photo opportunity.
But in the grand scheme, elderberry – despite its propensity to get away and feralize the entire garden – is worthwhile planting. The flowers contain natural yeast and every year I make elderberry champagne by simply soaking the flowers in a weak sugar syrup (or honey syrup), bottling and waiting until they go critical and fizzy. The flowers can be used to bring along a sour dough or natural brew. They can be made into a tea which is then used to make a herbal cordial. The berries must be cooked but they contain a high degree of vitamin C. And the berries have recently been exploited as stabilised elderberry compound which is bought as a pharmaceutical line and used to reduce the impact of colds and flu. I must say that I make a rather good elderberry syrup cold cure and I personalize it with extra herbs to fix what ails you at the time. Sore throat? Thyme. Fevers and malaise? Echinacea.
And bonus? Lack of witches.
Picked this at the correct time of December 21st. Finally we have a breed of garlic that will love our tropical climate and have done well this year with next to no attention at all.
So this lot will definitely carry over until next April as seeds for the next year of garlic. Hopefully we can end up with a breed that doesn’t mind these conditions.
I mean, seriously, why? Eggplant seems to taste like nothing on a good day and on a bad day, its bitter. But my lovely neighbour grew them so I will persevere.
All sorts of cooking techniques are used to make it eatable but my favourite eggplant dish is deep fried in batter with guacamole dressing. Obviously, I like deep fried batter and guacamole. I’ve also used this technique on choko which is another vegetable that tastes like nothing but sort of in a good way, especially roasted with beef.
So above you see in the jam jars (recycled) eggplant which has been bottled with pepper, chilli, bay, thyme and preserved in good olive oil. Behind in the vacola jars is the eggplant which is processed in apple cider vinegar and sealed for shelf storage. To the right is the eggplant which I’m about to put in the dehydrator to make eggplant chips. These chips can be rehydrated by boiling in water for five minutes. And to the left, some bottled tomato sauce, as referred to in the earlier post – just to show off.
After about a month to season and age the eggplant preserved in oil, we will test it. But I’m betting that they will all taste like what I put in the bottles. Maybe I’m missing the point and the purpose of eggplant is to carry flavour or bulk out a meal.
Whichever, I’m nearly done with them unless the dehydrated works like a charm.