Tag Archive: preserving


Nasturtium Capers

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With this latest discovery, nasturtiums are possibly the most useful plant in my garden. They grow easily and quickly (including hard to fill places), they cover the garden with bright beautiful flowers (which you can eat – my type of flower!) They then shed loads of seeds all over the ground and self-sow so easily that I haven’t had to grow any from seed since my initial two nasturtium plants from a few years ago. The rest of the plant can be composted, adding to their usefulness. I was already pretty happy with how much I could do with them until I learnt I was wasting the seeds (despite giving away as many as I could) – I could be making nasturtium capers!!

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I’m not sure how I missed this one, but after mentioning it to a few people it seems they are pretty common. It’s also amazing easy to do: collect the seeds (they need to be green) and soak them in salty brine for 24hrs.  Drain, pat dry and place into sterilised jars. Add herbs and a bay leaf if you like, and then fill the jars with white wine vinegar. Too easy! All that’s left is to add some labels and wait for a couple of weeks for the flavour to develop. I made these at the very end of last month, so it won’t be long before I can give them a try…

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I’m hoping the answer is no, however my freezer may now disagree with me…

Gearing up for the spring overhaul, it was time to remove the last of the winter crops to make room for new spring seedlings. After I removed a few spent broccoli, I was amazed to find how mulch celery I had growing! I remember planting the seedlings out, but they seemed to do such a good job of hiding among the other veggies as they grew that I hadn’t realised how much celery I really had.

After debating with myself about how much I celery I could eat in a week (even for the most healthy eaters, realistically there’s definitely a celery limit) – the only solution was to freeze it.

I did this last year too and I found for me it’s the best way to keep celery. Cut into the size I would normally use for cooking – it’s so easy to just grab a bag out of the freezer ready to add to a meal.

To do this I blanch the cut up pieces for a minute and a half before placing it in ice water to stop the cooking process. I then bag it and voilà! Celery ready to use whenever I need. It sounds easy – but due to the amount of celery I had this process seemed to take hours! Worth it though, as I won’t need to buy celery for many months.

Sauerkraut … fail

I promised I’d post about failures in the garden, so I can’t leave out a post about sauerkraut. With so much wombok ready to harvest this week, we just couldn’t eat enough of it (despite my best attempts!). So I thought I’d give preserving it a go. I realise sauerkraut is generally made from standard cabbage, but I thought it was worth an experiment (might have been my first mistake).

I followed the recipe in one of my preserving book… (basically chop, salt then pack the whole lot to a jar) …until it reached the point of needing to cover the cabbage with a muslin cloth. Which I didn’t have… so I just had to skip that bit (probably my next mistake) and covered the jar with stocking instead (an internet search recommendation).

For the first few days it did nothing. Couldn’t see any change at all, despite being promised bubbling etc. Then mould grew on top – which I thought probably meant the end of it. But I thought I’d scrape it off, let it go for another couple of days just to see what happened. I mean the recipe did say to scrape off “scum”. I really should have thrown it out… definitely another mistake. The whole thing turned cloudy and the stench was absolutely foul! Stank the whole kitchen out! So not a success… next time I might try freezing any extras instead.

My very first tomato seedlings

My first love in the garden was, and still is, tomatoes. One of those original packets of seeds I spoke about in my introductions was cherry tomatoes. Knowing nothing about gardening at that stage I germinated almost the entire packet of seeds and ended up with over 30 tomato plants. Advanced gardeners would have picked out the strongest seedlings, but I was just so excited that I had grown something that I nurtured every single seedling and they all lived and thrived. Everyone received tomato plants for Christmas that year (which I still feel was a pretty good present!) and I received updates on how the plants were doing, and even photos of the tomatoes in salads which was just beautiful. Until then I never realised the pure indulgence and incredible taste of the home grown tomato.

Last year however, despite my efforts I really ended up with minimal tomatoes. (I prefer to blame it on the very wet summer Melbourne had, it makes me feel better…. ) However on the upside the zucchini plants provided us with enough zucchinis to last an entire year (fresh, frozen and preserved).

This year I put my concentrations back into tomatoes, now one of my favourite vegetables. Nurturing seedlings, checking plants every few days to make sure they were growing and supported correctly. Looking back – I may have over done it a tad… my garden now feels like the land of tomatoes!

Regular harvest size

 

I am still not sure why each season results in completely different harvest outcomes (any comments or advice would be helpful!). My zucchini plants look healthy and have grown big, but have produced a disappointing amount of fruit this year compared to last year. The tomatoes on the other hand have thrived this year. Eaten daily in salads or recipes I am nowhere near running out.

Trying my best to eat as many as possible, I have been left with the worry they would go off faster than I am able to eat them. Which only means one thing – preserving! Last weekend I made tomato chutney – a personal favourite of mine. It’s the easiest recipe – put ingredients in a saucepan for half an hour, stirring occasionally. After sitting for a month, the flavour is unbelievable. For me, preserving adds colour to cold winter days, reminding me of the beauty that was the summer garden.  For people that like chutney they make great gifts too.  I also made a tomato soup to freeze for winter, however I doubt it will last that long before I’ll eat it….