2013-12-29 10.12.18

The Plum Trees were heavy this year and when the Kererū and Blackbirds moved from the Cherry trees to the Plum tree I knew it was time to get started if I wanted some plums. I picked about 10 Kg to start with and made some wonderful Plum Jam, Preserved about  5 KG for later use, started some Plum Vinegar as well as fermenting all the over ripe Plums for distilling Plum Grappa. The next crop that I am picking in a few days time will definitely be made into Plum Wine. Over and above this we are doing all the other plum  related baking and cooking and have beautiful fresh plums  every day. What a productive tree! I just wished I could have slaughtered the over fat Kererū and Blackbirds as well.

2013-12-29 10.25.02 2013-12-29 11.03.28 2013-12-29 11.03.35

Washing, Sorting and Taking stones out with a Cherry Pipper


3 Kg Stoned Plums – Juice in stone container added back to Plums

3 Kg White Sugar

100 ml Lemon Juice (Only if fruit is very sweet)

50 g Lemon Rind (Fresh)

Mix all ingredients in a large enough pot and simmer for at least 30 minutes from the time it starts to boil. Stir frequently. Leave to settle and cool for at least 6 hours. Simmer for another 30 minutes after commencement of boiling. Stir frequently. Skim off and discard froth from the surface. Perform the “Freezer Setting Test” and remove from heat when ready. Bottle while warm and “sterilise” containers. Add labels.

Freezer Setting Test – Place a small plate in the freezer for a couple of minutes. When well cold remove from the freezer and put a teaspoon full of the jam onto it. If it is the correct consistency after a minute the jam is ready. If it is still too runny, simmer some more and repeat test later until jam is ready to be removed.

Sterilise bottles of jam by submerging them into water in a large pot (bottles must be completely covered by water)  and boil for twenty minutes after the water and jam bottles commenced boiling. Remove and let cool.


2013-12-28 - Vinegar

Fruit Scrap Vinegar Season

Fruit Scrap Vinegar: Apple, Pineapple, Golden Plum, Mixed Fruits, Blackberry

I love fruit scrap vinegar. Since discovering that I can turn peels, cores, and squishy bits of overripe fruit into delicious vinegar, I’ve been giving in to my desire for more, more, more. It makes great salad dressing, it’s delicious over steamed vegetables, truly it works well in any recipe that calls for vinegar. The flavor and fragrance of the fruit comes through in each batch.  Transform your autumn fruit waste into vinegar to spice up your winter foods.

Make your own:

  • Fill a large glass jar with fresh, clean water.
  • Add 1/4 cup of honey or the sugar of your choice for each Liter of water. Stir until completely dissolved
  • Add fruit scraps. Use whatever you’ve got, peels, cores, and whole fruit. Chop up big things such as apples, leave small things such as berries whole. Add at least a couple of handfuls of fruit for rich flavor and color.
  • Cover the jar’s open mouth with a clean cheesecloth and use a rubber band or string to hold it in place. This will keep out flies and let in the wild yeast you want
  • Set the jar in a dark spot to protect it from the light.
  • Stir the jar every day and check to make sure the fruit is submerged. Don’t worry about yeasty white growth on top; scrape off any other colors of mold and toss that  into your compost bin
  • After a week or so, or whenever the liquid has darkened and everything is smelling nice and boozy, strain the liquid to remove the fruit. I use a doubled cheesecloth to remove all of the big pieces and most of the small pieces. Compost the fermented fruit
  •  Pour this strained liquid back into its original jar, replace the cheesecloth on top, and let it sit for another week or two. When it smells and tastes like vinegar, it’s ready. Put a solid lid on the jar to keep it from evaporating, store at room temperature, and enjoy
  • If you see a translucent growth in the liquid, either a blob or strands, be happy. This is your Mother Vinegar, and it can be used to start another bottle of vinegar or just left to live where it is. The mother is proof that you did it, you cultured your own vinegar

I find it encouraging that there is still enough wild yeast and beneficial bacteria in our air and on the skins of our fruits to turn fruit scraps, sweetness, and water into something so tasty and healthy.

How do you tell if a egg is Bad?

How to Tell if an Egg is BadPlace the egg into a bowl of cold water. The water level should be about 2 times higher than the egg.Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the bowl and probably lie on their sides. Slightly older eggs (about one week) will lie on the bottom but bob slightly.

If the egg balances on its smallest tip, with the large tip reaching for the top, it’s probably close to three weeks old. Eggs that float at the surface are bad and should not be consumed.

Effect on Hatchability with Pre Storage Incubation of Stored Eggs

Research showed that Pre Storage Incubation of eggs for 6 hours at 37.5 C could improve the hatchability from 70.5% to 79.0 % when stored at 11.5 C for 14 days. The results of this study provide evidence that embryos of eggs that have completed hypoblast formation (Pre Storage Incubation for 6 hours) and are stored for 14 days have a survival advantage over embryos of  that have not been subjected to any Pre Storage treatments.

2013-11-29 - Fresh Quail Eggs

Coturnix Breeding Program is making Progress

Should you have a sound breeding strategy and clear selection criteria results are due to follow, provided you have the numbers and ability and means to identify parameters. I have been incubating 150 – 200 eggs every two weeks for the past few months in execution of my breeding program and I think I have bred and identified two exceptional individuals. I normally, because of the sheer numbers of birds, do not give my Quails or Quail Lines names, but have decided to make an exception with these two – hence please meet Bill and Tri

Bill is from my A & M Texan White Strain in which I have a number of excellent specimens. I have two lines available and after some line breeding and then out crossing I have bred Bill. Not only does he (at this stage) have an exceptional temperament (his dad, No 17,  is a very good male, good temperament and also gentle with the girls), very good conformation and strong constitution, he also weighed in at 201 grams at six weeks of age. I am not trying to breed bigger and bigger, but with the Whites being a “Dual Purpose” quail, I am delighted with the size and growth rate.

Tri is a Tibetan male. I find the Tibetans to be very aggressive, though well adapted to cage conditions. Tri is out of my most beautiful Male – No 33, and a hen which was part of a group of five that produced 165 eggs in 33 days (100%), then unfortunately one of the girls missed out. I have selected the most perfect female out of this group, which are all unrelated to No 33 to breed Tri, who weighed in at 179 Grams himself at six weeks of age. No 33 has one full sister who at present has done 69 eggs in 78 days.  She is presently with a male that is a Full Brother to Tri’s Mother.  Tri has all the qualities of an excellent bird being sound, strong and calm, but very dominant already among  his piers. The one negative trait of the Tibetans is that the Males are  not kind to the girls and I have to remove them  from time to time. I also give the Tibetan Males up to seven females to keep them busy, but that even seems to be too few.  The Italians and Whites are perfectly good even one Male with one Female (Perfect Gentlemen)

Needless to say 2013-12-26 10.26.54 2013-12-26 10.22.57 2013-12-26 10.18.27 2013-12-26 10.26.23Tri and Bill are going to be part of future breeding programs.