Gourmet fruit recipes

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It goes with the territory - gardeners love their food. The fun of growing and eating your own fruit inevitably leads on to kitchen creativity, and planting ever more interesting fruits. Imagine, for example ...

Quince jelly with blue cheese and sliced pear

Quince trees are highly productive, and easy to grow in all areas of NZ. They're also extremely pretty trees (3-4m tall) with flowers like oversized apple blossom, textured foliage and a lovely shape. If space is short they can be grown flat along a fence as an espalier. Top self-fertile varieties: 'Smyrna', 'Van Deman'.


Core and thinly slice two or three firm ripe pears, leaving the skin on.
Gently toss the pear slices in lemon juice to stop them turning brown.
Serve on a platter with plain crackers (optional), your favourite blue cheese and a dish of quince jelly.

To make the quince jelly:
Cut approx 2kg fresh quince into pieces (skin on).
Place quince pieces in a large saucepan and just cover with water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 45-60 minutes, until soft.
Line a sieve or colander with a clean tea towel or muslin cloth and sit it over a large pot or bowl.
Pour cooked fruit with liquid into the sieve and allow 24 hours for the juices to drip through.
Measure the juice into a saucepan and add a cup of sugar for every cup of juice.
Boil until jelly reaches setting point; a teaspoonful placed on a cold saucer forms a skin.
Pour the jelly into clean hot jars, cool and seal.

Makes approx 600 ml of Jelly.


  • Add the juice of a lemon before boiling to help with setting.
  • If your jelly fails to set you can try again; return it to a saucepan and re-boil.



Drunken prunes with mascarpone

'Free stone' prune plums are grown especially for drying as their stones are easily removed and they have high sugar levels. The attractive spring flowering tree grows 3-4m tall. These large purple plums are also delicious eaten fresh, with firm juicy yellow flesh. Top self-fertile varieties: 'Italian' and 'Stanley'.


Drunken Prunes with Mascarpone

30 pitted prunes (about 250g)
1 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup port
2/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean pinch of salt

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds, add both pod and seeds to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with all other ingredients.
Bring to the boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Simmer for until the liquid has thickened and reduced by about half (about 20 min).
Leave to cool.
Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod.

Place a teaspoonful of mascarpone on top of each prune, serve on a platter with toothpicks.
Or serve on small dessert plates with three to four prunes in juice and a tablespoonful of mascarpone to the side.

Serve drunken prunes as an accompaniment to creamy rice pudding.


Tart cherry pie with vanilla cream

Easier to grow than sweet cherries, tart cherries are a rich source of anti-oxidants. They grow on a small spreading tree, which bears huge crops of bright red fruit in autumn. Tart cherries are self-fertile and will pollinate sweet cherries. Top self-fertile varieties: 'Montmorency', 'Griotella' (dwarf).


Tart Cherry Pie with Vanilla Cream

Shop bought or homemade shortcrust pastry
4 cups sour cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Line a 20cm pie dish with pastry.
Combine cherries, sugar, flour, almond extract, vanilla extract and vinegar in a bowl and pour evenly over the pastry.
Cover with a top layer of pastry and seal edges.
Use a knife to cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake approximately 45 minutes, until pie filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

To serve: Whip 150ml cream with 1tsp icing sugar and 1tsp good vanilla essence.

Found online:
Ssour cherry almond torte http://www.foodess.com/2012/04/sour-cherry-almond-torte/


Goat's cheese, fig and honey beetroot salad

Fig trees are very easy to grow. They tolerate hard pruning so they can be kept small, grown flat against a wall as an espalier, or in large containers (e.g. half wine barrels). This makes it easier to protect the fruit with bird netting. Top self-fertile varieties: 'Lesa', 'Robyn',


Goat's Cheese, Fig & Honey Beetroot Salad

This hearty salad uses preserves made in the autumn stores section. If you have not made honey beetroot, simply scrub and quarter 2 large beetroot and roast for 25 minutes in a little cold-pressed olive oil until tender.

2 cups pickled honey beetroot cubes
4 figs, quartered
1/2 cup walnut halves
100g soft goat's cheese
1 handful red oak lettuce leaves (or any soft-leaf lettuce)
1 handful rocket leaves
⅓ cup cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar sea salt

Toss all the ingredients together just before serving.

Takes 5 minutes

Serves 4

Figs start developing on the tree as early as spring and swell all through the summer. The birds wait for them to change from green to deep purple before they swoop in for the lot. It can help to cover a few with plastic bags before the birds beat you to them.


Pickled Honey Beetroot

These sweet and sour beetroot cubes are perfect in a salad of goat's cheese, walnuts and peppery greens. They are great on an antipasto platter or served warmed with lamb.


2 cups wine vinegar
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup liquid honey (I use viper's bugloss)
1 cup water
12 allspice berries
4 large beetroot, cubed

Sterilise 1 x 1-litre jar or 2 x 500ml jars by washing in hot soapy water, rinsing with boiling water and then keeping hot in the oven at 150°C.
Place the vinegar, sugar, honey, water and allspice berries in a large saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Do not stir.
Add the beetroot and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until the beetroot is just soft and the liquid is syrupy.
Spoon hot into jars and seal.

Takes 30 minutes

Makes 5 cups

Note: Allspice berries have the combined flavours of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. They add a lovely warmth to pickles and chutneys.


Recipes extracted with permission from Now is the Season by Laura Faire, published by New Holland.
Also in this book:
Rose-scented Quince
Paste Crabapple and Blackberry Jelly
Raspberry vinegar
Preserved lemons
Dark Chocolate and Cherry Tart
Baked Persimmons
Pears poached in Rhubarb and Allspice
Syrup Honey apple fritters
Poached tamarillos in Vanilla custard


Now is the Season, by Laura Faire

Published by New Holland.

"The most important thing I have learned about food is that you can't make great food with rubbish ingredients", says Laura Faire in her introduction to this beautiful cookbook. As a keen gardener herself, the trained chef has written a book that will appeal hugely to those who love to cook with their own, home grown ingredients. Fronting each season there is a handy checklist of what to plant, what's ready for harvest and what needs tending to in the edible garden. This is followed by delicious, simple and honest seasonal recipes and handy hints on growing the key ingredients. Photographs by awarding winning NZ photographer, Kieran Scott.




Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.

Feature article from Waimea Nurseries. For further information and more inspirational planting ideas, visit www.waimeanurseries.co.nz



Quince Jelly

Recipes extracted with permission from "Now is the Season" by Laura Faire, published by New Holland.