Crabapples in abundance

Ripe crabapples on treeThis beautiful crabapple tree in my father’s garden in Ballarat is absolutely loaded this year. I picked a large bucket full and there are still many left for the birds and possums.

With a purplish fruit, this crabapple makes a lovely pinky-purple jelly, although my method of making jelly is possibly not one the purists would approve of: I just sieve it and leave quite a lot of pulp in the preserve.

When cut the fruit has such a lovely pink blush and seeds are a luminous bright pink. Crabapples being washed and cut
They look too pretty to actually cook.

However, I steeled myself and turned up the heat, then strained them and was left with a lovely soft pink pulp. After adding the equivalent amount of sugar, a cinnamon stick and a squeeze of lemon juice, then leaving the pot to bubble for a while, I am left with these beautiful jars of delicious crabapple saucey jelly. Jars of crabapples

As I type I can hear the lids popping as they seal. It is such a satisfying sound. I think this qualifies as a windfall don’t you?



Herb Jelly

One of the Windfalls Facebook page’s lovely new followers commented that she liked the Mint Jelly recipe from Windfalls p.45-6, and I promised to share it so here it is. It’s a good way to use up apples past their prime from your fruit bowl, or herbs you happen to have available.

Chapter 3. Jellies

A whole chapter on Jellies

To make a batch of herb jellies make a quantity of this basic piquant jelly adding various herbs at the bottling stage.

Basic jelly

  • 2kg apples or crabapples, removing any bruised parts or blemishes. Cut up into chunks (including pips and skin).
  • Add to saucepan with enough water to cover.
  • Simmer the apples and water until fruit is tender.
  • Add 1 cup of white wine vinegar 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
  • Drain and strain through a jelly bag (or large fine sieve).
  • Add only 3/4 of a cup of sugar for each cup of fruit liquid.
  • Stir over a gentle heat until sugar, then boil briskly until setting point* is reached.

*test with a sugar thermometer or put half a teaspoon on a cold plate and let cool. If you can run your finger through the mixture and it stays parted, and does not run too easily, it should be at setting point.

Mint Jelly

Wash and chop 2 cups of fresh mint leaves and add 5 minutes before bottling while the jelly is still very hot. Stir the mint into the jelly so it is evenly distributed. This Jelly is wonderful with roast lamb or any lamb dish.

Other herbs – You can also use Rosemary (either strip leaves from stalks and add them as for Mint Jelly or add sprigs to the jars), Sage, Thyme or Marjoram.

If you use small jars, one batch of basic jelly mixture means you can make 4-6 jars using a range of herbs. Excellent for gifts or just to have in the fridge ready to go.

Happy jelly making!

Orchard beginnings

During the winter months, we managed to get in the start of our small orchard. It is a tough spot, and looks quite shaded in this pic, but it does get quite good sun during the middle of the day. It is also on a slope on quite tough ground, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

orchardWhile we were getting some other earth moving done, we had the area scraped and mounded into four rows across the slope. I had to go along these mounds several times before planting to remove as much of the couch grass root as possible.

An amazing quantity of weeds we had not seen elsewhere on the block, as well as the same old culprits, came up while the weather was wet. Great food for the chooks!

We planted the following bare root stock:

  • Apples (Granny Smith and Red Delicious)
  • Pear (Beurre Bosc) and Nashi
  • Quince
  • Apricot (Moor Park and Trevatt)
  • Peach (clingstone)
  • Plum (Mariposa and Satsuma)
  • Almond
  • Mulberry (White)

We moved from other locations on the block:

  • Mandarin (Imperial) and Blood Orange – fairly young, planted in wrong spot
  • Nectarine (White)- been there for years and very neglected

We also moved two trees from a small backyard in North Fitzroy (inner Melbourne suburb), one a medium-sized Persimmon and one quite big Crabapple (John Downey). The latter is doing well and the former was doing well but is now looking a bit sick – fingers-crossed!

I also planted a small Medlar tree that I was given by my sister which had been struggling in a pot for years. It is loving its new location. Medlar trees are so pretty all year round, and the fruit makes great jelly.

I saw on a gardening show on TV that a woman in South Australia who’d made a vegetable garden on a slope had put manure in the furrows between her beds running across the slope and then put mulch over that so that it slowly breaks down over time. We have tried the same as I thought it made so much sense.

I enjoy going out to check on my orchard (notice it’s ‘my’ once planted ;-) ) every few days to see what’s changed. We will have to fence it of course, and probably cover it at times, so that we get at least some of the fruit as well as the possums, flying foxes and cockatoos!

First of the mangoes

While it is still early days, I have seen mangoes at the markets, and already eaten a few – yum. Won’t be long until they’ll be trying to move them by the box load and I can make my stock of Mango Sauce.

Mango Sauce has a special significance for my family. Mangoes were one of my mum’s favourite fruits. She’d look forward to them every year, even on the dry wheat farm where we grew up, far from any mango crops. She’d hunt them down, or friends would send them by freight.

She’d make Mango Sauce every year when they got too ripe or were cheap at the markets, and we would all be sure to get a bottle or two. This recipe even appeared on her funeral notes. Note it is called ‘The’ Mango Sauce recipe. Enjoy!


It’s getting to that time of year

In Melbourne, Australia, you know Spring is coming when you smell Sweet Pittosporum and Jasmine in the air. Considered weeds by some, both are planted (and appear uninvited) in gardens and parks all over the city.

This smell brings with it the promise of fresh red berries, plump dark cherries, aromatic nectarines and peaches, golden apricots and more. It’s one of the first signs that Winter will soon be over, that warm days and evenings are coming, and that all the good stuff will be in abundance at the markets soon.

I love this time of year, and look forward to all the delicious summer fruits. I plan ahead – gathering jars and lids, putting reminders in the calendar, and mentally setting aside time to make my supplies of jam, sauce and bottled fruit while the picking is good.

Afterall, there’s nothing like the experience of a full to bursting pantry, with plenty of jars to last you and your family until the next summer, and a few for gifts. It makes me feel like a wealthy woman!

This year, I want to record my makings, and share recipes, stories and poems from – and inspired by – my mother’s book Windfalls (see About).

I’ll be back soon with more…