Crabapple jelly and jam
Crabapple jelly and jam
Fresh South Island salmon from our friend Ross Hutchinson at Blue Water Products in Dunedin is an excellent product for this easy to make delicacy.
Fillet and de – bone one FRESH salmon. Mix 800 gram coarse sea salt and 200 gram granulated sugar with the grated rind of two organic fresh lemons. In the bottom of a large enough stainless steel container to have both fillets lying flat and not touching, place a layer of the salt mixture. Now lay the fillets, skin side down, on the salt mixture and cover well with the rest of the salt mixture. The fillets should be totally covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours, then turn the fish over and again completely cover it with the salt mixture. Refrigerate again for 24 hours. Remove the fillets and wash very well under cold running water until all the salt is washed off. Pat dry with paper and your salmon is ready to eat. I normally cut it into four pieces and vacuum seal those pieces I am not going to eat immediately. In the vacuum sealed bags in the fridge these should last a good four weeks.
Today we had quail eggs topped with truffles Mrs BYF brought back from the promised land, with cured salmon and fresh garden salad – sprinkled with ground black pepper and a dash of olive oil. Excellent with home made ciabatta and home made wine.
Another, and a big favorite in our house, is to place a bit of home made ricotta on a piece of fresh pane di casa and top it with cured salmon and caper berries, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of good olive oil. Wash all of this down with the best Italian Prosecco you can afford and pretend you are in heaven
Mrs BYF is fanatical about not wasting any food that the garden produces. Her attitude has resulted in many memorable dishes ranging from fantastic, better that any world class restaurant, etc. etc., to (seldom, I might add) never to be attempted again, EVER!
I was going to let the cardoon buds flower, because the bees love them, and ‘they’ say that only the stems should be eaten, but Mrs BYF commanded me to “bring them in!”. After all the cardoons grow so well in Dunedin and my plants were well over 3 meters high with lots of flowers. They were all boiled in a big pot of water, with a squeeze of lemon and some salt, then peeled, chokes removed and the hearts put under oil. The taste and texture of the hearts proved to be sensational, perhaps a bit more starchy, at the same time almost creamy, than artichokes. We eat them as antipasto or on panini with roast bell peppers (peperoni) and fried eggplant (melanzane). The real taste of Italy in Dunedin. Unbelievable !
Just to take the non wastage policy a bit further, Mrs BYF used the inedibles for a lovely vegetable arrangement of rosemary, flowering cardoon and fennel fronds. The cardoon flowers are beautiful and, surprisingly, sweet smelling.
I love eating fresh produce in season and preserving all the excesses during the growing season for the rest of the year. Summer fruits and vegetables are expensive in winter and in summer there is a lot of glut and waste, especially at the small local green grocer who sells his fruit and vegetables fresh, in season and does not keep things in cool rooms for years. The supermarkets hold fresh foods over until they can hike the price so I avoid them. Why buy expensive bad produce, albeit blemish free if one can have uglier and tastier produce for less .
I do not have a glass house ( green house? ) and find it impossible to grow the vegetables that are important for Italian food like capsicum and eggplant in Dunedin. My solution is to have a good relationship with the local shop and to buy fresh produce that he can not sell. A small blemish or spot of rot, a wrinkle here and there, a few tomatoes that are too ripe for locals but just ripe and soft enough for a great sauce can be had for very little money. The shop keeper gets in money he would not have had, and it helps me to process things like eggplant, capsicum, tomatoes and a variety of fruits for use out of season without going bankrupt. I prevent, in a small way the waste of good food and wish I could convince more people to do the same.
Vegetables can be preserved in many ways, as sauce or ingredients for soups and stews or dried. Fruits are made in to jam or pitted and vacuum sealed to bake in to pies and tarts. I always sort fruit and the best specimens are devoured by the troops before being processed.
We have been pretty busy. The worst thing to process are the delicious cherries. Every one has to be pipped before jam can be made or the can be pasteurised for baking. I have a stiff shoulder and my arm and hand hurts. My hands and nails are stained purple and I have purple juice spots on my face. Keeping going is essential, though, because in dealing with this type of product ” time is of the essence “, seriously!
Cured olives (picked last year in Cromwell), dried tomatoes, garden salad, peperoni sott’ olio (capsicum under olive oil), peperoni grigliati (roasted capsicum), calabrese salame, pickled onions, provolone cheese, focaccia and, of course, dry wine (apple and black currant) – ALL HOME MADE. I am very happy with the result of all the hard work. A few more kilograms tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants processed should see us through the winter.
No good Italian can live without tomatoes, and plenty of it. So the annual Passata day always takes effect when tomatoes are in abundance, ripe, sweet and fresh. Making about 60 kilograms of Passata every year for our own needs, and some as gifts, has been a family tradition for many decades. It helps to be on a good footing with the local green grocer who is only too pleased to discount the tomatoes that would be considered over ripe in New Zealand, but just right in Italy.
Wash and roughly cut up the tomatoes, and at the same time remove the odd bad or discolored spots. Now boil the tomatoes, without water, for about five to ten minutes, depending on the ripeness, until soft, but not cooked.
Passata making can be a huge job without the magical Passata Machine – a device that separates the skin and seeds from the flesh. This little machine can do in excess of 100 kilograms per hour and is wonderfully designed, easy to operate, durable and very quick to clean. No self respecting Italian household is without one! Within minutes I had processed 30 kilograms of tomatoes into 28.5 kilograms of Passata leaving 1.5 kilograms of seeds and skins to compost, or dry to plant next year.
Bottle the tomatoes in clean canning bottles – do not use the cheap screw on type of bottles, but a good strong bottle with lid that can seal properly. There is no need to sterilise the clean bottles before hand, as it is going to happen after filling them. Put the filled and sealed bottles in a large enough pot that would totally cover the bottles when filled with water. It is good to have a tea towel or some screen in the bottom of the pot, so that the bottles do not stand directly on the heated surface. Now fill the pot with water of about the same temperature as the product is at this stage (prevent bottles from cracking). Heat until the water is boiling and then boil for twenty minutes more. Immediately remove the bottles from the boiling water, if the water starts to cool, water may be sucked into the product.
Cool and label. PRONTO !!
While washing the tomatoes, select the ripest and firmest tomatoes for Bruschetta with tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Mrs BYF cannot be beaten for making the best Bruschetta! ENJOY!
We love olives but are wary of the chemically saturated commercial products available. The solution is to cure our own the way it had been done traditionally in Italy. On the drive to Cromwell to collect olives we passed through beautiful, and often contrasting scenery, as one does when travelling in New Zealand. We stopped several times to admire the amazingly blue Clutha River. Normally rivers are colored muddy brown and the color and clarity of this river was quite thrilling. Then we passed by Cromwell where we once again stopped to look at the reflections of the mountains (one snowy peak in the background) in the water. In the distance tantalising, snow covered, mountains stayed just out of reach for close up pictures. The olive grove belongs to Bill and Helen Dunbar and is on the shores of Lake Dunstan. The lake and the snowy mountain tops are visible from everywhere, from the cleverly laid out open plan house and presses, to the trees when one is picking. The business markets fresh pressed olive oil which, once we got home, we compared with our favorite imported Italian brand and we are happy to report that it came out tops. There is much to be said for a fresh olive oil from good olives and carefully pressed and bottled. See the website http://www.Dunfordgrove.com
Bill and Helen invited me to pick my own olives – an unexpected bonus! The last time I had the opportunity to pick olives was in Italy in the Marche on the farm of an old friend, and then again in my friend Lino’s back yard (one tree only, but what a harvest!). We picked about 60 Kg, a mix of eating and pressing olives – thank you Bill and Helen.
Recipe for Curing Olives
The olives I picked were Picholine, Frantoio and Leccino. Leccino and Frantoio cultivars are the principal raw material for Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Leccino has a mild sweet flavor. Picholine is grown in Southern France and is a green, medium size, eating olive with a nutty flavor. I am going to cure them all for eating purposes and will try a few different recipes to make it all more interesting.
Picholine – I have about 40 kg of Picholine and will make 15 Kg in the following way.
Wash and submerge olives in clean cold water with lemon juice of two lemons as well as the lemon peels. Replace the water and lemon every day for five days. Now crush the olives with the bottom of a bottle, but do not destruct the fruit. Submerge again in clean water with lemon juice and peels and again replace water and lemon every day for five days. Drain the water well and pack the olives in glass containers. Ad a quarter of a sliced lemon and one crushed garlic clove per 5 liters. Make enough brine solution of 100 g salt per liter of water to cover all the olives. Bring the brine to a boil, let it cool for five minutes only and then pour the hot brine over the olives. Make sure all the olives are covered. I have plastic grids that fit tightly into the bottles and these keep all the fruit under water. Now add a thin layer of olive oil to seal the product and immediately seal the jars tightly. Store in a cool dark place for three months before consuming.