Friday, 28 March 2008

Yesterday's harvest

Latest garden pics now on our Flikr site

Corn and chillis (hasn't been a good year for chillis)

Lemon cucumber and (more) tomatoes

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Potatoes and compost tumbler

Well, the first frost of the year is threatening to settle tonight, so it was time for some more harvesting. Heirloom pink, pale yellow, white and purple carrots were harvested yesterday, blanched and frozen. Another huge basket full of potatoes (about 10kg) put a dent into potato patch number 2 (but there are still more to harvest!). At least 5 of the potatoes were as big as my hand, and enough to feed 2 for dinner!

Over the weekend Jerry made me a fabulous compost tumbler using an old blue barrel we scrounged. Isn't it great? What a clever Jerry!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Making bacon and gammon - part 2

Today it was time to take the bacon out of the cure. All it needed was a good rinse, and then pat dry with towel. The maple syrup cured bacon then got wrapped in greaseproof paper and into the freezer. The same for one of the standard cure pieces. The other piece I soaked for a few hours (to make it a bit less salty), and then it was dried, into greaseproof paper and into the fridge. We'll be eating this piece over the next week or so.

Yep, it's that easy - why don't you try making your own bacon?

It was also time for the gammon and hock to come out of the cider cure. Don't they look YUMMY? They will soak in clean water for about 24 hours, and then it will be time for part 3.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Bottling / Canning update

Today was going to be a scorcher, so I got in early and did a couple of batches of tomatoes, and tomato stock in the canner. They can go on the rapidly finning shelves in the pantry. Up to 56 jars of tomatoes now!

Then there are the jams, chutneys and pickles spread over the pantry and the linen cupboard. There's also a shelf of home dried fruits, tomatoes, courgettes and chillis.

Thanks to a windfall of bottles (over 50!!) from one of Jerry's colleagues, my bottle storage area is full again, so I still have plenty of opportunity to fill up the pantry shelves.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Making Gammon (part 1)

After yesterday's bacon, it was time to do the gammon today (once I'd dealt with the 7.5kg of tomatoes I picked at lunchtime). I'd made the brine yesterday - a cider brine with apple juice, water, cider, juniper berries, peppercorns, cloves, water , salt and brown sugar. It had been in the bottom of the fridge getting nice and chilled, along with the gammon and a hock I'd decided to cure as well.
Doesn't that gammon look lovely??? Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

Another very simple process - put the brine in a non-reactive container (non-metal) - I've used a 9litre food grade plastic container with a lid. Make sure it's not too full to start with, as the ham will take up a bit of volume (I had a brine flood last time I did this!). As you can see from the pick below the gammon / hock float in the brine, and they need to be submerged. To achieve this I use a ziplock bag filled with rice. You can use a chopping board - mine doesn't fit the container.

Once the weight is in place, put the lid on, and return to the fridge. Easy!

Because I'm planning to cook it pretty soon after curing I'm going for the minimum cure time of 3 days per kg (so 6 days in total). If I was going to keep it longer before cooking then it could go for up to 4 days per kg. Stay tuned for part 2 next week

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Making bacon (again)..part 1

As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says, making your own bacon is ridiculously easy and very, very satisfying. He forgot to mention it's addictive!! I haven't bought commercially produced bacon for months now.
Today I made another 2 batches, and have started experimenting with other methods and cures.

First, start with a piece of pork belly - preferably free range, rare breed pork for extra flavour. I get mine from King Valley Free Range . This piece of belly came from the breed known as a Large Black. Imaginatively named because they are large, and (you guessed it) black. I picked mine up from the market this morning, along with a lovely shoulder roast and a piece of gammon, but that's another story!). I cut the belly into 3 pieces. The first piece was going got the maple syrup treatment.

I mixed up a cure of brown sugar, salt and maple syrup, then rubbed it into the piece of the pork belly.

Then, the belly went into a zip-lock bag, it was sealed and I put it skin side down on a tray (just in case of leaks as the brine forms. Then it's into the fridge for 4-7 days, turning every day or so to redistribute the brine.

Yep, it really is THAT QUICK AND EASY!!!!!!

Check back in a week to see how it turns out.

Next on the agenda - a cider (ooooh aaar) brine for the piece of gammon ham. Jerry's mouth is positively watering at the thought of home made gammon, egg and chips. Bless 'im. You can take the boy out of England, but you can't take England out of the boy.

Gammon isn't a typical cut that's readily available in Australia, but this is one of the great benefits of having a relationship with the people who produce your food - you can ask for special or unusual cuts. Not only that, but if you're local you can see where and how they live. In this case I know that before they end up on my fork they have lived as happily, as, well, a pig in mud (which they were for a lot of the time!), with treats, back scratches, TLC, and the ability to run around and be pigs. The fact that they are rare/ heritage breed pigs also means the flavour and texture is a world apart from mass-produced pork from the supermarket.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Yesterday's harvest basket

Beans, chilli, tomatoes (red and yellow), lemon cucumber, courgette (of course!) and a turk's turban pumpkin which looks too good to eat. Oh, and 4 eggs from the girls!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Latest harvest and kitchen happenings

I've just taken a heap of photos in and around the garden - head over to our flikr site to see them. Meanwhile.......

Tomatoes in the solar drier, some of the 9kg of potatoes I harvested today, and pears in the electric dehydrator

More sourdough - my first attempt at a fruit/spice sourdough loaf (not bad, but needs more fruit) and a wholemeal/white sourdough mix. YUM!
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