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 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.
To make the quince jelly:
Makes approx 600 ml of Jelly.
'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)
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.
Place a teaspoonful of mascarpone on top of each prune, serve on a platter with toothpicks.
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
Preheat oven to 200°C.
To serve: Whip 150ml cream with 1tsp icing sugar and 1tsp good vanilla essence.
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
Toss all the ingredients together just before serving.
Takes 5 minutes
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Recipes extracted with permission from "Now is the Season" by Laura Faire, published by New Holland.