Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who said pumpkins don't grow on trees?

Who said pumpkins don’t grow on trees. I just had to take photos this weekend of these silly pumpkins of mine which insist on growing up and over the plum trees rather than trail on the ground. I had to pick one this weekend as it was getting to heavy it was beginning to split at the stem.
I decided to harvest my butternut pumpkins too as they had stopped growing after an overnight cold snap we had a couple of weeks ago. Now they are hanging in wire baskets in the shade out of reach of frost, possums and rats!

Monday, March 21, 2011


It feels like a while since I made any cheese so this weekend I spent 2 days making some new cheeses to put in my new “cave”. A few weeks ago, I decided to splurge and buy myself a little wine fridge in which I can control the temperature to that needed by most cheeses to mature. A normal fridge is too cold for maturation to occur, so instead of relying on the coolest room in the house(which was often too hot), I decided to invest in a small wine fridge which can be set anywhere from 5°C to 18°C. Now I just need to fill it up a bit. It just fits in nicely into the newly renovated storeroom.
the new cheese cave

First cheesemaking day, it was Cotswold on the menu. This cheese has dried onion and chives added to the curds before pressing so it should turn out to be quite savoury although surprisingly, there was no salt added anywhere in the process. The pressing process was a multi phase one with the last pressing lasting for 24 hours. It dried quite quickly and I was able to wax it the next day.
Cotswold before waxing

After waxing

Gouda with Cumin seeds was next on the list. The process is a bit different from other cheeses I have made so far as it entailed heating the curds by drawing off some of the whey and replacing it with very hot water. I am not sure how this makes the end product different than that from heating the curds from outside the pan….but I am sure there is one. Woops, I have just remembered that I have to wash it with some brine daily….back in a minute. After 2 pressings of 10 kg for 12 hours (actually I cheated and did the first one for 10 hours just so that I didn’t have to get up at 1am) it was ready for a three hour soak in a brine bath and then a  three week spell in the cave with daily brine washing.
Gouda with cumin seeds
Soaking in a brine bath
 I just hope I remember to do it tomorrow, and the next day and the next……It will be ready for waxing in about 3 weeks and then be ready to taste in a few months.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tomato Time.....finally

At last we have had some warmer weather to help the tomatoes to ripen. This is the first weekend I have had enough to bottle some tomato puree ready for the winter…so 12 bottles done,  another few dozen to go. I like to bottle at least 50 small bottles to tide me over until the next tomato season.  No tinned tomatoes for me! I use them in any recipe that requires tinned tomatoes from pizza to paella. If I still have tomatoes to harvest after I have achieved my target number of bottles, I like to boil down puree to make a paste , semi dry them or make sauce and chutney 
 I heard on Saturday's gardening talkback radio that it is the cooler ripening conditions which make Tassie tomatoes taste so much better. Tomatoes ripen best at 24.5°C – how on earth did they work that out???- so if you are ripening them in a warmer climate, they lose a lot of their flavour. I have always thought that my tomatoes were pretty tasty, now I have the reason why. I am sure all that calf shed bedding mulch that I use in the vege garden helps add to the flavour as well!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Zucchini and more Zucchini

Amazingly, because this summer was virtually non existent, I haven't had the huge huge glut of zucchini that I normally get. However I have still been getting a few so this weekend I decided to put down a few jars of zucchini pickles. I have 2 recipes. One is by Sally Wise and comprises zucchini, onion, capsicum soaked in a salty brine then brought to the boil in some vinegar spiced with mustard and bay leaf. It is really easy to make and tastes great.
The second recipe is one by Maggie Beer. It involves finely chopping zucchini, onion and lemon peel and salting them overnight. Bring to the boil in vinegar spiced with chilli, mustard and turmeric. The lemon adds a lovely flavour to this pickle so it is worth the extra bit of chopping required.
Ready for the cupboard