Here at Molesworth it’s becoming very obvious that summer is near. Today is roasting hot, at least by my standards. Eaglehawk Neck, where we formerly lived, was cool and shady on the edge of the forest with a refreshing afternoon sea breeze.
Although I still miss the sound and sight of the ocean, there are distinct advantages to this warmer micro-climate. Growing vegetables was difficult at the “Neck” due to the lack of sunshine and being on tank water. Here at Molesworth however, I can plant tomatoes with confidence, even cucumbers and capsicums. The vegetable garden I planted only a few weeks ago, despite a couple of nasty frosts, is bearing well and growing like topsy before my eyes.
A huge advantage here is that we have bore water, a bit high in iron I’m told so not suitable for drinking, but fine for the gardens.
Last week I was invited to a tomato soiree at the Botanical Gardens, where all sorts of rare tomato plants could be purchased. Quite carried away at the prospect, I fear I bought a few too many and now have to prepare the ground, but I’m sure it will be worth it. I’ll be testing out different varieties to see what is best suited to making paste, sauce, chutney, passata and bottling. By end of summer I should have a chart ready.
Today I spent hours mowing the grass. Somehow I managed to break the ride-on and it’s going to take two weeks to fix. It’ll mean I get plenty of exercise mowing by hand until then. Tonight in the cool of the evening I will plant out the tomatoes.
Friends have been generous with supplying us with lemons from their trees that have been bearing so well over the last couple of months. The lemon cordial I’ve made from them has been a life-saver since I’ve been mowing by hand. Every now and then I race into the house to grab a drink and continue on.
Because the lemons are home-grown and have quite a bit of pith, I’ve modified my usual lemon cordial recipe. You might find it useful if you have similar lemons. The recipe for the regular cordial will be on the website.
To make the modified cordial syrup I peel (with a vegetable peeler), the skin of 6 lemons and throw that in the food processor. The pith can then be easily peeled off and discarded. If you leave it in, it gives the cordial an unpleasant bitter aftertaste.
Roughly chop the flesh of the lemons (leave the pips in) and throw those into the processor as well. (If your food processor is small you may need to do this in two batches).
Meanwhile mix together 1.5kg sugar, one tablespoon tartaric acid and 4 cups boiling water and mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon pulp and stir till well combined. Allow to cool.
Strain through a sieve and pour the syrup into sterilised bottles and seal immediately. I’ve never had the need to refrigerate it until each bottle is opened, but if you have the space for it, especially in a warmer climate, you may choose to do so as a precaution.
To serve, mix one part syrup with 4 to 5 part chilled water or soda water. A splash of gin isn’t half bad either for a cocktail in the evenings.
An especially exciting fact is that next week the cooking school will be officially opened. Naturally enough there have been some hiccups along the way, but all will be good to go.
The first class will be Preserving – Jams and Pickles on November 20th from 9am until 4pm. The cost is $120 per person and includes a generous morning tea and samples to take home.
Another Preserving class will be on November 27th and Cooking with Yeast – Breads and More, on December 4th. The cost for this class is $110.
I can be contacted on mobile 0408 569 423 if you want to make a booking.