January has been a month of fires, storms, heatwaves, and the odd torrential downpour. The result has been substantial crop loss and food spoilage. There is a saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” As it is not lemon season, we were presented other edible treasures. Fallen fruit that was knocked from trees by the wind, split fruit from the rain, as well as meat and frozen cream that defrosted in the power outage.
Green mangoes were the first casualties, blown off in the strong winds in early January, as well as when that wild storm ripped through the region. The mangoes were used to make green mango salad and chutney. Mangoes not used have since ripened and they will be fermented into a mango sauce (like citrus, there is more flavour in the skins). Any fruit with mould on or rotten, gets composted.
Figs were boiled in a syrup and dehydrated to make delicious, preserved figs. The recipe is as follows: for 3 kg figs, use 6 cups sugar, 3 cups water and 1 cup vinegar. Boil for 3 hours, leave in syrup overnight, then strain and dehydrate the figs. Reduce syrup by about a third, and then bottle figs with syrup in sterilised jars or just enjoy the dehydrated figs.
Grapes, both red and green seedless, that were starting to go soft, went straight into the dehydrator, after being washed – the result tasty juicy sultanas. The frozen cream that started to thaw was turned into butter and will be further processed into ghee.
A glut of zucchini was roasted and then marinated in a mixture containing equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and olive oil, with a good lot of garlic, black pepper and salt.
Eggplant was treated in the same way. This is a great addition to continental rolls, along with salami, cheese, roasted capsicum, tomato relish and rocket.
Meat that defrosted was marinated in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and spices for a day, then into the dehydrator to dehydrate and turn into jerky.
Finally, we had a box of locally grown organic Jujubes which had split with the rain. These are a real treasure with a short fruiting season. Jujubes, also known as Chinese Dates among many other names, are eaten extensively in Asia and they have a bounty of health benefits, being anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and they have good amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C as well as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron. They can be eaten fresh, dried, cooked, and fermented. It seems just about every culture has their own way of preparing and eating them.
Many of these things are now available at the Northern Valleys Locavore Store while they last.