Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pyrenees Cheese with Tasmanian Peppers plus Wensleydale and Cider update

On yet another wet day a couple of weeks ago I tried a different cheese with my able helper and visiting daughter in law Teresa. This time we tried a Pyrenees recipe from an Artisan Cheese making book with a little Tasmanian flair, adding Tasmanian Mountain Peppers to the mix.

After part of the pressing process, it looked like this, with a little bit of leaking of colour from the peppers. I then air dryed it for several days before waxing. In fact I had to wax it twice as it started leaking liquid a day or so after the first waxing so I obviously hadn't dried it enough.

It is now maturing in the "cave" with the remains of the Cheddar, Manchego and Wensleydale. I think we have to wait a couple of months for it to mature before tasting it.

This is the Wensleydale, cut after one month for tasting. It was very tasty although the sage didn't give it a lot of extra flavour.

The cider made with apples and pear turned out well. The juiced apples with store bought apple juice version was very tasty. The pear version was a bit bland. I think straining the juice would make an even better product but that can wait until we have some riper apples in a month or so. We have been having a real problem with crows developing a taste for knocking fruit out of the trees so now I have old CDs hanging all around the garden trying to deter them. Fingers crossed - it seems to be working so far!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Scrumpy Cider - Flowerdale style

For Christmas , my son gave me some Oztops and yeast to make my own cider, the easy way. Just add the special yeast to cheap supermarket apple juice, seal with the Oztop which regulates the pressure and in a few days, voila...cider. We tried doing the same with some grape juice but I wasn't so keen on the result. There are two different kinds of yeasts for slightly different results - one more fruity than the other. Both were really nice to drink though.
 Tonight we are doing a bit of an experiment with some windfall apples and pears - put them through the juicer, pasteurise to kill off wild yeasts, add some cheap apple juice, the yeast and put on the Oztop. Maybe in a few days we will have Cider/Perry if all goes well.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rain makes the garden grow...but we've had more than enough now thanks.

Flooding rains have hit this area in the past week and this was the view from my garden on Friday. There had been cows standing on the river flat paddock a couple of hours before this photo was taken but they had been moved to higher ground. Pretty much the whole of the Flowerdale valley was covered in water by lunch time. By yesterday it was back to its normal size although still flowing strongly. Lots of fences had been ripped out by the fast flowing water but our 3 irrigation pumps on the river's edge were unscathed, only lapped by the height of the water leaving a little bit of mud on the pump house floor.
All the unseasonal rain has taken its toll on the garden this year. The potatoes have not taken kindly to torrential downpours and many plants collapsed in December, before this last lot of rain. Hopefully the few remaining plants still with green leaves might produce a bit of a crop. The plums which are starting to ripen now are so split from the various downpours they have endured, that they are not going to be sound enough to bottle. I think I might try to salvage some in a plum cake tonight. I am hoping the later fruiting varieties might be ok. The raspberry crop was still in full swing last week but I wasn't able to pick for several days in a row as they were absolutely waterlogged. I now have to leave them for a few days to dry out and then work out which ones are going to go mouldy and which ones are ok to pick. Luckily, I have picked quite a few kilos for the freezer already. Everything is a lot later ripening than normal and I doubt that I will get any tomatoes until mid February. I hope they are ok after all this waterlogging. I have just spent a few hours thinning out the lush growth to make sure there is plenty of air flow around them and to prevent mildew and rot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Yummmm- Bottled Apricots

This is the time of year for fresh apricots in Tasmania and the south of the state is the best place to get them as it is a drier climate than here in the northwest. So when we were on our way home from Hobart last week, we called into a little roadside stall at Mangalore and bought 10kg of lovely slightly underripe apricots. I think Tasmanian apricots are far superior to in flavour and bigger than those that I remember getting in Brisbane when I was a kid. The flavour of these apricots bottled or stewed in absolutely heavenly! They are really easy to bottle and save on freezer space.


After washing, halving and removing the seeds, I pack them cut side down in 4inch Fowlers bottles, and fill with water (not syrup as I don't think the extra sugar is either needed or good for you!).

 On go the rubber rings, lids and clips.

Then it is into the preserving pan. The method used with this plastic preserving pan is a bit different from the old copper one I used to have (and then accidentally burnt out a couple of years ago). Now all I have to do is to load up the jars, fill the preserver with water until the jars are covered, then turn it on for 60 minutes. Drain off the water, remove the jars and then let them cool overnight before taking off the clips and checking they have sealed. No more fussing about with certain temperatures and times for different fruits as with the old preserver. Easy.

The finished product, ready to be stored for winter.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas treats from the Preserving Patch

 Since the glut of tomatoes last autumn, I have been keeping some semi dried tomatoes in the freezer. With tomatoes being really expensive at Christmas time, this is a perfect opportunity to use them. I dipped them in a little vinegar and then packed the jar with tomatoes, a few peppercorns and covered with olive oil. The verdict? Delicious!
 Raspberries are late this year due to all the rain we have had this spring and early summer. At last now that we have had several days of sunshine in a row, they are starting to ripen in bulk. Perfect for summer desserts especially when added to a few freshly picked strawberries. We have also been having them with our Christmas special Ice Cream Christmas pudding- chocolate and vanilla icecream mixed with chopped marshmallows and dried fruit which has been soaked overnight in Creme de Cacao.

It has been a busy time with lots of visitors but now the summer harvest really begins. There will be lots to blog about in the weeks to come.