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Garden to Table, Kitchen Preserves, Weekend Projects

Processing Homegrown Oranges & Orange Jam Uses

It’s been a bumper citrus season for all the citrus trees in my garden. I’ve been climbing Orange Everest trying to make the most of the organically grown fruit I’ve harvested so far, especially from my Washington Navel Orange tree.

This post is about the processing flow of a large orange harvest, and uses for the jam, rather than how to make orange jam.

Processing the Harvest

My family and I enjoy eating oranges fresh, so a very large amount are set aside for the fruit bowl in my strategy. With all four of us adults working from home while stay-at-home orders are in place here in Sydney, these are being enjoyed… fast. I usually have some grab-and-go peeled diced pieces and peeled full fruit in the fridge, as well as the ones in the fruit bowl.

This latest stage harvest meant I still had over thirty kilos to preserve in a way that helps us enjoy those oranges right through the year in different ways, until next flush.

My answer to this, was to make large amounts of what I call ‘Strong Orange’ and ‘Spicy Gourmet Orange’ jams, syrups, poached orange segments and flat freezer packs of juice, diced and segmented orange.

For those like myself with limited time for this, I recommend peeling all your oranges on a Friday night, and refrigerating them overnight. With that behind you, you then have the weekend days to do the more involved things like jam-making, with more focus and motivation. Remember to reserve some peel & seeds to include in your jam making if you’re not using pectin (most citrus jam recipes don’t).

I like to shave the best skins with a sharp peeler and either freeze or dehydrate them. When ever a recipe calls for zest or peel I have them to use.

I reserve all the skins and leftovers from processing, to produce a Jadam-style plant ferment for my garden. I’m still experimenting with citrus skins, they’re the hardest to get back into the garden in a plant-usable form. My goal is for all parts of the fruit I harvest to be used by us, or be returned to the garden.

Preserving the Harvest

Jam making doesn’t have to be hard, but it can get dangerous if you’re not totally focussed and always present. Be careful with your safety and keep small children out of the kitchen, because nasty scalds from hot sticky jam (that can’t be removed quickly from the usual cold water burn treatment) are possible, if you’re not on your game.

Know beforehand that you have enough storage jars and towels to handle hot transfers of jam. Then sterilise your jars and equipment. Always be wary that when preserving any food you are trying to eliminate and reduce the risk of dangerous bacteria and mould having any chance of invading that food. I refrigerate most of my preserves as an extra precaution. I also follow storage advice or seek it when using any recipe.

My ‘flow’ started with Vanilla Poached Orange segments using Martha Stewart’s Recipe. I had some left-over syrup after bottling them into jars, so I will be using the delicious syrup to pour over a tea-cake ‘citrus syrup cake’ style or flavour plain carbonated water from my Soda Stream.

I then moved onto juicing so I could reserve the pulp for the jam, because No Waste is my jam! I used a very efficient food processor to do this, making flat freezer packs of juice, diced & segmented fruit. You could do it by hand with a small serrated knife, which makes segmenting easier in my experience. The segments can be used for topping fancier desserts. All can be used as the orange component in future recipes, in fruit salads, or eaten alone as a frozen treat for summer days.

I then started making my jam by using whole fruits processed into smaller pieces, as we prefer smooth jam, without orange peel. I am experienced enough in jam making to eye-ball my amounts, but Sally Wise’s A Year in a Bottle Orange Marmalade, page 95 is a great guide. Keyword search Orange Marmalade or Orange Jam recipes online, and make sure you seek one with or without the peel included according to your preference. Vintage cookbooks are also great sources of recipes and hints when building your skills.

When I make orange jam I make two versions. Strong Orange, where I replace some of the water with orange juice and lime juice. That gives it a more concentrated orange taste. I also make Spicy Orange jam which is my gourmet version. I sprinkle ground cloves, cinnamon and a very small splash of brandy in the finished jam and stir, before bottling. These spices elevate the flavour and work so well with orange, adding an amazing taste to anything you add them to.

Uses of Orange Jam/Marmalade

So my latest harvest has led to 18 large jars of orange jam. That seems like a lot for one family until you think about the ways it can be used. These are some of the ways I use them constantly through the year, apart from the obvious on toast and in sandwiches. It’s a fridge-fixer extraordinaire.

Glazes: home made breads, pastries, donuts, lollies, syrup cakes, tarts and pies

Toppers: pancakes, ice-cream, yoghurt, custard, trifle, waffles, muesli, oats, toast, sandwiches

Flavourings: pan sauces, marinades, cocktails, BBQ sauces, batters, salad dressings, popsicles

Dipping Sauce: cheese platters, canapes, home-made dips

Fillers: crepes, thumbprint cookies, tarts, pastries, grilled cheese sandwiches, stuffed meats/fish

I hope this post has given you some ideas and hints on how to process, preserve and use the products you produce from your wonderful orange tree. I’d love to hear your ideas on this topic too, so please leave a comment if you have anything to add. Most importantly, enjoy Nature’s bounty.

Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy processing and using your oranges and orange jam 🌸

Weekend Projects

Clear Rosewater Spritz…No Chemicals

Imagine the luxury.

You bring in an armful of organically grown scented roses from your garden, and instead of putting them into a vase, you make your own non toxic clear rosewater spritz.

This is one of the easiest and most enjoyable benefits I reap from my plentiful garden roses in Autumn. I choose light shades of scented roses for my rosewater spritz, to avoid staining.

I use the resulting rosewater as a gentle cooling facial and body spritz, as a mood lifter, light scent or room spray. Some use it as a final scented rinse when washing their hair.

With just two ingredients it’s very simple to make. The ingredients are organically grown, no chemical rose petals, and water.

If you’re allergic to roses or citrus, do not attempt this recipe or use it. Even if you’re not allergic, always do a small patch test of rosewater on your wrist, before you use it on your face or body. Always avoid the eye areas when spraying it. If you’re using it as a room spray, make sure no one is allergic to roses where you use it.

Roses sprayed with chemicals are obviously unsuitable for this recipe..and if your roses are from a florist, can you be sure they haven’t been sprayed? If you don’t grow your own roses, shopping at a local organic flower supplier you trust to know the background of how their roses are grown, is one way around that.

While there are many ways to make rosewater, this spritz is simple and won’t last long. That’s because it has no preservative. It should be made in small quantities, kept in the fridge and used often, while fresh.

You’ll need :

0.5 cups organically grown rose petals washed thoroughly 3 times

1.5 cups pure or distilled water

A pot with fitted lid and a stove to boil the rose petals

A strainer and glass bowl to strain the finished rosewater liquid into

A sterilised clear glass bottle to decant the rosewater into, for storage in the fridge

A small brown spray container bottle to fill with your rosewater.

A funnel and perhaps a jug, to use in the decanting steps

 

 

 

Preparation:

Step 1: Wash the rose petals very thoroughly

Step 2: Bring 1.5 cups pure or distilled water to a boil in the pot on the stove

Step 3: Add 1/2 cup of rose petals

Step 4: Reduce heat to simmer, put the pot lid on and simmer until the petals go see-through

Step 5: Remove pot from stove to cooling area. Let cool.

Step 6: Strain the clear petals from the now cooled rosewater into glass bowl

Step 7: Using the funnel, decant the rosewater into a sterilised glass bottle and spray bottle

Step 8: Store all filled rosewater containers in the fridge, let sit for 1 week

Step 9: Enjoy your rosewater, remembering it won’t keep too long

While I know admiring roses in a beautiful vase is satisfying in itself, using a rosewater spritz that cost you nothing, or very little…..is luxury.

Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy making and using your Clear Rosewater Spritz. 🌸

 

 

 

Events, Life and my Garden

Converting Scraps to Compost Worms Milestone (Part 1)

Compost worms … 29 years on

BACKGROUND

Before I get to the real story here let me say one thing. It’s the little wins in gardening, that often give you the greatest kick, & inspire you to do more.

From my experience, you don’t always have to be super motivated at the start, or consistent through unavoidable changes to your time. Little wins come as you try. They will develop your patience and inspire consistent effort, to try out new and bigger things in your garden. In turn, You and your garden, will become more resilient to seasonal conditions, weather, pest problems, uncooperative humans & wildlife, to name a few.

THE  MILESTONE

Since 1992 I’ve separated 50 kilogram extra, of pure red wriggler compost worms from my worm farms, to start other worm farms breeding in my garden. That is from no special effort, except feeding them on kitchen and garden scraps (plant based only) in enclosed vermin resistant systems I designed. For more information see My Worm Farm Design links below.

I have dug separated worm castings into my soil, probably into many hundreds of kilos by now. I wish I knew the real figure. But in my haste to improve and condition new native soil garden beds in my younger years (I’m 52 now and started this garden from scratch at 23) I didn’t record these details. But like Manuel in Fawlty Towers…’I learn Mr Fawlty..I learn.’

CURRENT PRODUCTION

Currently I separate at least 20 kilos of worm castings from my worm farms, AND 3 kilos of extra worms, per year. Time required: Low…I have just 10 hours total on average per week to spend in/on my garden (I mow my lawns, sow, plant, prune, tidy, harvest, tend to all composts in that time, myself).

I will go into how I harvest, store and use worm castings in Part 2 of this post..TBA.

I will say all those kilos of worm castings I produced, though separated, contained compost worm eggs. The newly hatched compost worms have ‘lived rough’ on the sheet mulching I regularly apply on my native soil garden beds, breaking it down into …black gold. Tons of beautiful soil I could never have achieved for this large garden and didn’t have the funds to buy in. The worms and I have created this lovely topsoil together. But the garden has weathered several droughts and hot summers including last years ‘once in one hundred years ‘ drought. Many of those worms have died in the process and, my soils after all this time are definitely not perfect. So all soil continues as a work in progress.

Those that survive ‘living rough’ have spawned little descendant compost colonies dotted all over my garden – because I don’t use chemicals or manures. I have found red wrigglers and earthworms to be  perfect companions. They work on breaking down surface mulch like grass & leaf clippings. The earthworms plough the deeper clay soil below. Work I wouldn’t and shouldn’t do much of, myself.

But why did I say no manures? It’s my more recent measure, and it’s hard to sustain the kind of beautiful soil organic manures give. But sadly, many manures ‘organic’ or not, may contain traces of worming medications and antibiotics used to keep animals healthy while they live in ‘regulated’ conditions. Those worming medications may kill your garden earthworms, compost worms and soil microbes. I choose not to let manures into my garden now, so problem solved. So now you see how important my worm castings and random wildlife droppings (via ecosystems I design in) are to my soil. They are chemical and medication-free because I know what foods they’ve eaten. Part 2 will have more on this.

MY WORM FARM DESIGN

In 2014 I wrote an article about how to build your own worm farm using my fully enclosed worm farm design, for permaculturenews.com.org. You’ll find that article HERE.

I also wrote an update blog post in 2019, which you’ll find HERE

I use them now as ‘tractors’ of fertility all around my garden, not just tucked in out of the way spaces like my 2014 article photograph suggests.

I hope you can use some re-purposed materials around your home to build your own. If you buy new components, these will last you many years, so are worth the money.

Please like this article. Comment below on how you are going with your worm farms and any further ideas, comments or questions on the topic you’d like to add.

Good luck with your worm farm if you decide its for you 💚

Disclaimer: Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy your worm farms.

Uncategorized

Mid-Spring 2020 Update

It’s mid spring here at VintageTrishGarden in outer Sydney Australia.

I’ve been growing my suburban food forest garden here for 28 years.
It’s a highly productive garden and this little trailer is just a taste of what’s happening here right now.

I’ll be back to writing regular blogs soon, but for daily updates follow me on Instagram @vintagetrishgarden on this link, see you there!

Garden to Table, Kitchen, Kitchen Preserves

Dried Banana Saver

Dried banana costs nearly $30 per kilo where I live. No way.

Instead, I made 438g dried Organic banana for recipes, and banana skin fertiliser slurry for my fruit trees/roses.

IMG_3646

From 2.1kg of purchased bananas, pre-treated in my homegrown lime juice before drying, I’ve saved a conservative $25 on both superior products. I know what’s in them. For example, they are sulphur-free, because I dried them.

My calculations include electricity costs and ‘paying myself’ for my time. Never forget those two because they can escalate a cost easily when it comes to home preserving.

These dried bananas ‘could’ last a long time in glass jars in the fridge. Whether they will with us around remains to be seen!

One purchase, two products, no waste.

Permaculture Principles for today’s task: Obtain a yield, Catch and store energy.

Pure gold 💚

Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy making your Dried Banana.

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