Grow Gather Enjoy: Preserving

Showing posts with label Preserving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Preserving. Show all posts

6 ways to Preserve Oranges

20 September 2018
When we lived in Adelaide we had an amazing Washington Navel orange tree. It was a prolific fruiter and the taste, when the fruit was left on the tree until late in the season, was amazing. Both my girls loved sitting under the canopy of the tree and eating them just like they would an apple. 

The fruit would ripen around late May - early June but would hold on the tree until late September getting sweeter and juicier as it hung around. This made for a great staggered harvest across the whole winter, which was great.

However, after a winter storm or particularly windy day we'd often have a big drop onto the ground. And of course towards the end of the season we were often left with quite a large harvest to deal with. So, I had to build my repertoire of orange uses and ways to preserve them.

Orange tree with potential harvest.


How to Preserve Lemons

06 September 2018
This time of year is citrus season. If you are lucky enough to have your own tree or know someone with an established tree, you can guarantee a glut of lemons at some point over the citrus season. Once established lemon trees are quite prolific.

I was the recipient of a lemon tree for Christmas which is currently growing in a pot and has not reached glut-harvest levels as yet. However, once people know you like to take excess produce off their hands it does have a way of finding you. Enter a fruit bowl full of lemons needing some attention....

A mix of lemons.


Pasta Dough: Plain and Flavoured

10 July 2018
I about my recent pasta making day. I'm aiming to incorporate a monthly pasta making and drying session into my routine so that I have homemade pasta at the ready as needed. Homemade pasta is so much tastier and of course it doesn't come in a packet so one less plastic bag to dispose of.

The other benefit of making your own, which I've talked about many times before, is the ability to adjust flavours and ingredients to your liking. In this instance I was able to play around with different flavours to add a bit of variety and colour.

Herb & tomato fettuccine.


Using up your savoury preserves

19 June 2018
Preserving up your garden bounty, foraging windfalls or market bargains is a great way to extend the availability of seasonal ingredients. Personally I find preserving a little addictive and each season I love to experiment with a few new pickles, relishes and the like.

If you too enjoy preserving your own or even just purchasing unique preserves on your foodie jaunts you might find a stockpile in the cupboard or a few half used jars in the fridge. There is only so many roast meat and relish sandwiches one can have so what to do with these pantry preserves? Here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration.

Rhubarb and cranberry chutney.


Easy Homemade Dry Cured Bacon

17 June 2018
Bacon is a much loved food product in the GGE household. Mr GGE in particular, is an avid bacon fan. His love is well known and he often receives bacon inspired gifts. One of the tastiest was a bacon jam and the most useful was, by far, a bacon making kit.

I had been pondering and researching (read: a lot of researching and even more procrastinating) making my own bacon but had not yet taken the plunge (how surprising!!) when the kit came into our lives. And suddenly all my excuses to make my own were gone. I gave Mr GGE a couple of months to give it a go and then I took matters into my own hands and put the kit to work.

It was a very simple process in the end and one that I have since replicated many times sans kit supply. More recently I've been a bit slack on making my own but this past week I got to it and we enjoyed the results for breakfast yesterday. Delish!

Homemade bacon on toast with avocado - hello tastiness!


Preserving olives three ways

14 June 2018
For many years I dismissed the idea of preserving my own olives. I had tasted several home made attempts over the years from others and was left unimpressed. So, I figured this was just one of those things that was better left to the experts.

All this changed when I tried a good friend's attempts a couple of years ago. These were delicious, clearly surpassing any other home made attempt I'd tried and rivaling many bought options. This, coupled with the free olives available for foraging in my suburb, spurred me on to give it a go.

I'm glad I did, as now I can tick one more item off the 'to buy' list and look to my own preserves for delicious and tasty olives. Here are three different ways you can take the plunge and preserve your own too.


Here and Now: June 2018

12 June 2018
Just like that it's June. The weather has shifted from chilly autumn into definite winter. The trees are mostly bare and their shed leaves collect around the garden (thanks mother nature for laying my mulch for me!).

Gloomy skies and (all but) bare trees)

It's hibernation time. I've shifted from the reflection of autumn to the feeling of being still. Most days find me wanting to curl up under my nanna rug on the couch with a pot of tea and a good book. Alas, the daily tasks still beckon no matter the weather, but there is a definite slower pace.


Jam muesli balls

05 June 2018
When I first started preserving at home I didn't really make much jam. I don't really eat it much, besides on fresh scones with a liberal serve of cream, so I tended to focus on chutneys and relishes. I don't know when the switch occurred but I realised that jam need not be limited to simply spreading on things and that it was actually a great way to preserve my fruit for use in cooking.

Many baking recipes call for jam, my favourite being the traditional jam and coconut slice. However,  I've also successfully adapted many recipes to use jam in place of dried or fresh fruit. These muesli balls are a great example and are so quick and easy to make that they are a staple snack option around here.

Jam Muesli Balls

The original recipe called for dried fruit, sugar and honey so I figured I could sub these out for jam or marmalade. After a little tinkering I found a recipe that was a winner. It's so simple and quick that I can mix it together when the oven is on for the bread and stock up on the snacks. Even if you don't make your own jam It's a great recipe to use up any lingering jars of jam in the fridge.

Jam Muesli Balls

1 cup plain flour
2.5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup seeds and/or nuts
100g butter
100g jam or marmalade

Method: Melt your butter and jam together. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and roll into balls. Bake in a moderate oven until golden.

It doesn't get much easier than that really.

Do you make your own jam?
Do you have any recipes to share that use up jam or other preserves?

P.S Apologies for lack of post over the weekend. The best laid plans went awry a little so I cut myself some slack and gave myself the weekend off.


Tomatillo Salsa

31 May 2018
I first came across tomatillos in a Diggers catalogue and I was intrigued. Being a sucker for a novel vegetable in the seed catalogue I quickly ordered a packet and gave them a go. I can happily say they've been a great addition to the garden and the preserving cupboard.

Tomatillos come from Mexico and you'll come across them in many Mexican recipes. The most well known use is Salsa Verde (not to be confused with the Italian herb based sauce). They can also be added to raw salsas or, according to my daughter, enjoyed like an apple straight off the vine (generally when they are on the riper side of things like the front fruit in the pic below).


Here and Now: May 2018

15 May 2018
Autumn is definitely my favourite season. As a child I think it had to do with the fact it was my birthday season, but over time it has maintained its place as number one season in my book. 

There is a grounding and calming about autumn that I really enjoy. Things naturally slow as the weather cools and the days shorten. The changes in nature provide a visual prompt to pause in the moment and savour the here and now. To connect with this time and place. To slow, to turn inwards and to reflect.

Loving // The amazing colour show that is Canberra in autumn. There has been lots of rustling walks through the leaves and leaf collecting happening around here.

Eating // Warming soups and cheesy sourdough toasted sandwiches. I'm hoping to try out a few new soup recipes this winter (if you have any recommendations on a soup that is a little different please feel free to share).

Tea in the sunshine, enjoying the autumn show.

Drinking // Tea - no surprise there. Getting back into making chai now the weather has cooled.

Feeling // A little under the weather with a cold at the moment but overall feeling content with a sprinkling of inspired. I'm working away on re-building my 'day job' business and it feels nice to use my brain for different things.

Harvesting and preserving the last of the tomatillos.

Making // Lots of baked goods lately - trying different breads, experimenting with sourdough starter in things other than bread and keeping the snack jar full. The last of the preserves.

Thinking // About so many ideas for my business. On the home-front I'm thinking about lots of weekend jaunts and day trips to discover the food and wine places that have emerged while I've been interstate.

Current library book pile.

Dreaming // Of a winter holiday up north to warmer climes. I'm enjoying the change in season but I know a little holiday where it's warmer will help to break things up. Also, one of my lovely sister in laws moved to Brisbane at the beginning of the year so we are looking forward to spending time with her and hopefully a few others along the way as we road trip up.

What's been happening in your world? Fancy updating us all in the comments below or on your own online space. Head on over to to check out what others have been up to and to join in if you can - you'll also find some pretty inspirational knitting to enjoy.

P.S I'll be back on Thursday with Reuse: Food Waste Part 3.


Making your own herbal tea

01 May 2018
When I jumped down the rabbit hole that is 'making your own from scratch' I analysed everything. I tried so many things and techniques to find a way to make things myself that would work for me and my lifestyle. One thing I was stuck on for a little while was tea.

I'm a big tea drinker. I'm talking pots of tea a day not just mugs! It was a big part of my pantry that I couldn't really impact on as I didn't live in a climate where I could grow it. I swapped to tea leaves to reduce waste but that was it for a while.

Mint ready to be dried for tea.

I've never been a big herbal tea drinker. Frankly I find most commercial herbal teas or 'infusions' pretty uninspiring. However, home dried herbs are a whole other thing. The trigger to give homemade herbal tea a go was receiving a delicious T2 blend that, when I looked at the ingredients, was all dried herbs and spices. I still drink my pot or two of black tea a day but I also mix it up with a few herbal teas largely made from things in my own backyard.

Now that we are coming into the cooler months I know I'll be reaching for the tea pot a little more frequently and I thought you might be too. So here are a few ideas to get you thinking about making your own blends.


Preserving Chillies and DIY sweet chilli sauce

24 April 2018
From the get go of growing my own food I've always had some chillies growing. Sometimes it's been one plant in a pot and sometimes several plants in the garden. Personally I feel that all edible plants look good in the garden but chillies are definitely a stand out with their structure and colourful fruit.

I like chilli to add a little hum to a dish but still allow me to enjoy all the flavours present. For me it's not really enjoyable when the chilli action takes over and annihilates any sense of taste. But each to their own!

Chillies ready for some preserving love.

So, what to do with all the chillies when you only really use a little in your cooking directly? Preserve them of course.


Pickled eggplant

19 April 2018
For my 30th birthday I went on a food and wine road trip with my sister and a group of good friends from Canberra to Adelaide via Rutherglen and Lanhorne Creek. At one of the many places we visited we sampled some pickled eggplant. It was delicious. I'm pretty sure we all took a jar home.

Of course the jar eventually ran out and I was forced to investigate how to make this myself or face a future without it. The research wasn't too hard. Turns out the Italians have been making this for a long long time - Melanzane Sott'Olio. I too have now been making this for the past six years (I just turned 36 on the weekend - officially late 30s now).

Pickled eggplant with hommus on crackers - perfect lunch.


Here and Now: April 2018

16 April 2018
The last month has gone by quickly with Easter, camping and a few birthday celebrations. After a very warm start to April we've finally hit some true autumn weather. After eight years away from Canberra I think there will be some acclimatisation to occur. Yesterday it hit about 14 degrees - this is the average maximum winter temp in Adelaide!!

Dried apple slices.


Pesto made with breadcrumbs

15 April 2018
Pesto is a much used condiment around these parts. Each autumn I like to blitz up a big batch and freeze it to use throughout the year.

Pesto is so handy to have around, and of course pesto made from scratch is so much tastier than the jarred stuff. Pesto stirred through pasta has got to be the ultimate quick dinner, but don't stop there because it's so versatile. Here some of the ways we put it to use:

  • Spread it on the base of a pizza instead of tomato sauce
  • Add to scrambled eggs to make 'green' eggs
  • Dollop on top of soup
  • Stir through white sauce for lasagne or pimped-up corned beef
  • Use as a dip by stirring through some extra oil or something creamy
  • Pesto mayonnaise potato salad....yummo!

Purple and green basil

Each year is generally a little different as I play around with which nut to use or what to use instead. It's normally a case of what I have on hand. This year the cupboard was particularly bare of all things nut and seed like. But then my memory tugged on something that I had read or heard somewhere about making pesto with breadcrumbs and so I thought I'd give that a go.


Fermented tomatoes and tomato salsa

30 March 2018
I interrupt my normal broadcasting schedule to bring you a bonus post. If you've found your way over here from Rhonda's blog I'd just like to say hi and extend a very warm welcome. I hope you enjoy perusing my little space on the interwebs.

I generally post Tuesday, Thursday and once over the weekend, but as I knew there might be a few new readers coming over I thought I'd put up something new. Also, I thought an extra post to check out over the long weekend might be welcome to those with a little time on their hands. And speaking of time - I wanted to put up this post before all the tomatoes disappeared so that if you get inspired you still have time to give it a go.

The bulk of my tomato preserving is straight up in the bottles as I talked about k, however I also like to put up salsa, sauces and chutney if I can source enough tomatoes. I have dreams of one day being able to grow enough for all my preserving needs but alas I'm not there yet so I just source them from the markets or independent fruit & veg shops as I need. But I digress...

I've been intrigued by fermenting tomato salsa. Ever since my success with I've wanted to start trying out other veg to see what I like and what gets eaten. So this week when I saw bags of tomatoes at a good price I thought I'd have a little dabble.

After a lot measured amount of researching recipes and how to guides I was ready to start.

Ingredients washed and ready to go.

For my batch I used about 6 tomatoes, half an onion, 1 green capsicum, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 chillies, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds and 3 teaspoons of salt. How much you use will depend on the size of your jar and the ratio of the ingredients you want. There is no right or wrong. I obviously went for a more tomato dominant salsa but you could add more onion or capsicum if you like. If you want a hot and spicy salsa feel free to add more chillies. You could also use fresh coriander leaves but I just had seed on hand so went with that. The only ingredient you want to be careful about changing is the salt - you need a certain amount of salt to get the right mix of bugs in your ferment to do the things you want and stop the things you don't want.

Colourful layers in the jar.

I decided to chop my ingredients up and layer in the jar but you could mix in a bowl and then stuff in - whatever works for you. Once you've got it all in the jar give it a good squish down with the back of a fork. This pushes the solid bits down and lets the liquid float to the top. You want to make sure all the 'bits' are submerged under the liquid. If your tomatoes haven't produced enough liquid top up with some water or lemon juice if you want a bit of a zing (you could even add this in the mix either way).

After a good 'squishing'.

And that's it. Now you just need to place your jar in a spot on the bench where it wont get disturbed and is out of direct sunlight. Cover with a cloth or lid on top loosely to allow gasses to escape and keep things out. I generally leave my ferments on the bench for 3 days and then pop in the fridge, but it's really up to you and your own taste. The great thing about ferments is you can just taste them each day until you are happy with the flavour, just use a clean spoon each time to avoid contamination. As an aside I think one of the biggest benefits of making things yourself is the ability to tailor things to what you like and what's available. Once ready pop in the fridge. Most of the info suggested the salsa would keep well for up to six months.

After 3 days - you can see bubbles around the edge and a couple in the middle, the liquid is a little cloudy and nothing 'suspect'growing on top - fermenting win!

While I was going I decided to have a go at fermenting a jar of whole tomatoes, and because I had it on hand I popped in some capsicum too. For flavours in this batch I added a clove of garlic chopped and a teaspoon of fennel seeds. I did need to weigh these down a little to keep the tops of the tomatoes submerged. I generally use a circle of plastic that I've cut up from a container lid as It's flexible enough to get under the jar rim but easy to remove.

Whole tomatoes and capsicums ready for the bench treatment.

I've popped both these ferments in the fridge today after a sneaky taste test. Delish. I look forward to using the salsa to add a bit of a lift to Mexican dishes through winter. I think the other veg is likely to end up on a few lunchtime platters.

I think I can safely say that I will be adding both these fermented tomato goodies to my  preserving list for next year. And, if I spy any further well priced bags of tomatoes before the season ends I might just snap them up and put away a few more jars. I think I need a preserving fridge.....

Have you been preserving much as summer winds down?
Ever tried fermented tomatoes or salsa?

Preserving Tomatoes

27 March 2018
Summer is well and truly over in Canberra. I've had to pull out the nanna knee rug two days in a row this week! Luckily I've been busy preserving little bits of summer to enjoy for the cold wintery months ahead.

My biggest summer preserve this year was tomatoes. For the past five years I've been bottling my own tomatoes to substitute tin tomatoes and tomato passata and making my own tomato sauce. The taste of home preserved tomatoes is much nicer, I can source local tomatoes and I can reuse my jars. Triple win.

The first year I went the whole hog, cooked down the tomatoes and put them through a hand operated strainer and bottled them up. It was a lot of work. The second year I had a two month old baby on my hands and so I found an easier way. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking here.

First, get your hands on some tomatoes, sort out any not so fresh ones and wash the rest.

Get chopping into quarters, sixths or eights depending on size.

Start filling your jars and squishing the tomatoes as you go - I use a chopstick.

A comparison between the squished and non-squished jar from the top.

As you can see from the pics I use fowlers vacola jars. Previously I was doing the tomatoes in old passata jars that I saved and reused but I rehomed these in our move. So just use what you have. If you don't want to go through the preserving process you could just freeze whole or chopped up tomatoes and spend the saved time sipping a tasty drink in the summer sun.

Once your jars are full you need to add a little citric acid or lemon juice to ensure they are the right acidity for water bath preserving. My instructions advise 1/4tsp citric acid or 2tsps lemon juice per 600ml jar and 1/2tsp citric acid or 1Tblsp lemon juice per 900ml jar. You can find citric acid near the baking powder at your supermarket.

Now it's time to pop on your lids and relevant sealing paraphenalia for your jar of choice and process in a water bath. I use my fowlers vacola unit but you can do it on the stovetop ().

Out of the water and into the pantry they go.

Once cooled you can stock up your pantry and feel free to open the door whenever you pass to enjoy the sight of your beautifully preserved bounty.

Now, if I'm using these in place of tin tomatoes I just put them straight in my recipe. If the recipe calls for passata I may (or may not depending on importance of smooth texture) give these a blend with my stick blender to puree them up. A small note to keep in mind - because we aren't reducing the tomatoes some varieties can be a little more watery so you may need to reduce other liquids in a recipe a little or just simmer your recipe for a little longer.

And that's my quick and easy way to preserve fresh and tasty summer tomatoes for enjoying in the depths of winter and hungry gap of spring.

Do you preserve tomatoes?
Are you a quick and easy convert or a full blown passata day traditionalist?


Vinegar pickled cucumbers

13 March 2018
I must confess that I am a bit of a pickle fiend. Growing up we always had a jar of sweet spiced gherkins in the fridge. These were usually destined to be thrown on a classic 80s platter along with pickled cocktail onions (all three colours of course), cubes of cheese and chunks of cabanossi (or cabana depending where you live). Ah the 80s.....

10 green cucumbers sitting on a wall....

I started pickling my own cucumbers a few years ago and haven't looked back. I like that I can adjust the taste and spices to my preference. I also like that I can source local cucumbers (sometimes even from my own backyard) and produce a little less waste.

There will always be a jar of vinegar pickled cucumbers floating about in my fridge. I enjoy them straight out of the jar or served up on a tasting platter, especially alongside rilletes. They also go great with hamburgers and sandwiches - on top or on the side. A few finely chopped pickles will definitely add a little tang to any number of things - potato salad, mayonnaise based sauces and a variety of fish dishes. Once you're done with the pickles you can then use the leftover pickling liquid in dressings and sauces, waste not want not.

Each summer I try to put away enough for a full year's worth however I haven't managed to get them to last that long yet. It seems both my daughters have inherited my pickle munching ways. I think we made it until September last year before needing to top up from the supermarket. Room for improvement this year.

Cucumbers sliced up and lightly salted - step one.

I also experimented with fermenting cucumbers last year and am keen to add more of these to the stash this season (). However, because they live in the fridge (i'm not quite game to keep my ferments out permanently) i'll only be able to make a few jars, so the bulk of the pickle action has to be vinegar pickled.

My go to recipe is a . It's simply a matter of salting the cut cucumbers overnight and then combining with a pickling liquid. I do differ from the recipe a little. I used to simply hot pack the cucumbers and hot brine in hot sterilised jars thereby forming a seal. But one year I had a few jars that didn't seal correctly and started to ferment a little in the jar. It was a sad day when I had to empty these into the compost. So now I process them using a water bath. I have a fowlers vacola unit and so I use that, but you can simply use a pot on the stove top (for more info on water bath canning you can find great stuff online, I often refer to the Ball canning site  but there is a heap of information out there).

If that sounds a little too much at this stage of your preserving journey then follow the linked recipe and just store them in the fridge. Easy peasy.

Squished into jars and awaiting some pickling liquid.

Are you of the pickle loving persuasion?
Have you ever tried or wanted to try pickling your own?


Making fermented cucumber pickles

05 March 2018
My first attempt at fermenting cucumber pickles last summer was a taste revelation....and a textural failure! My second attempt was a success on both fronts - I was hooked. Unfortunately it was the end of the cucumber season so once the jar was empty I had to wait.....

The first step this year was to grow the cucumbers. The textural failure last year was the result of using large cucumbers and cutting them into spears like I normally do with the vinegar pickled variety. However, once the little fermenting microbes had their way with my cucumbers they were a little on the mushy side. You definitely need the small whole cucumbers. These are a little harder to come by so I wanted to grow my own.

Pickling cucumber vine growing nicely. Lots of flowers...yay!

Second step is to wait patiently until you have enough to fill a jar or two. Unless you have a lot of vines you are unlikely to have enough cucumbers at the right stage at the right time to fill too many jars. Feel free to buy some small cucumbers and skip the first two steps.

From here on in it's a pretty simple process. Give the cucumbers a wash and trim off the blossom and/or stem if needed. Stuff them in a clean jar with some garlic and herbs. In this batch I used a bay leaf, two cloves of garlic halved and some peppercorns. The limit here is your taste preference - dill, fennel, caraway, coriander or mustard seeds would all work well. You can find plenty of suggestions and recipes on the interwebs too.

Cucumbers and spices in the jar.

Next you cover them with a brine. For this batch I used 2 tablespoons of salt in 2 cups of water. First dissolve the salt in half a cup of boiling water and top up with cold. Then just add enough to your jar to cover. You may need to wedge your cucumbers together or under the neck of your jar so they stay submerged.

Cover your jar with some muslin or just balance the lid back on top loosely - you don't want any bugs or things to get in but you want the fermentation gases to release. Place somewhere out of direct sunlight where they wont be disturbed for 3-10 days. I generally leave mine for around 3 days but it depends on your taste preference - the longer you leave them the more fermentation will occur. Also, they will still ferment slowly once in the fridge.

After 3 days on the bench. You can see the bubbles and cloudiness of the brine.

Then you simply pop them in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy....after a sneaky sample of course.

Are you a pickle kind of person?
Have you been bitten by the fermenting bug (pun intended)?

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