Make the most of your harvest, make marmalade

I mentioned on a previous post that I was lucky enough last week to be given a bag of chokos by John at the farm, together with a lovely supply of fresh limes from the food forrest.

I have used them both with gay abandon during the past week but decided I needed to put the surplus to good use while they were still nice and fresh.

They say if life give you lemons “make lemonade”.

In my case, if life gives you chokos and limes “make marmalade”

Here is the result.

Marmalade

Marmalade

On the left is the choko. lime and ginger jam but it tastes more like marmalade due to the lime and ginger. I’ll make sure John gets a jar of choko jam when I go over to the farm this morning. John’s wife Heather is a big choko pickle maker – she might like to try this jam and add it to her repertoire.

Here is the link to the recipe from Lisa Loveday’s website. When I first found this recipe there was a photo too but it looks like she just has a print friendly recipe now.

On the right is the orange and lime marmalade I made using my friend Wendy’s recipe, just tweaking the choice of fruit. So thank you Wendy. Here is the recipe.

WENDY’S MARMALADE

4 oranges

2 lemons (I used two limes instead)

1.25 litres (5 cups) water

1.5 kg (3lb) sugar

Wash fruit and cut in half lengthwise.  Cut each half into thin slices.  Remove seeds.  Put fruit into bowl and add water, let stand overnight.  Next day put fruit and water into large saucepan, Bring to boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 40 minutes.  Put sugar into baking dish and warm in moderate oven for 7 minutes.  Add to fruit mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to boil and boil, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes.  Stir frequently.  After 40 minutes start testing for set.  Makes approx. 1.75 litres.

(Wendy says it isn’t essential for the fruit to be exactly as specified.  You can substitute other citrus, such as grapefruit, cumquats or mandarins for part of the fruit if you wish, so long as the approximate volume of fruit is about the same.  The fruit for the best marmalade is cut into fine strips and you’ll need patience.  As a lot of juice is produced, a chopping board with grooves around the edge is useful to catch it.)

Happy preserving.

A harvest to share

I have mentioned before that at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment volunteers and allotment holders alike work in the community garden every Wednesday morning.

At the end of their labours the harvest is shared and at the moment the community garden is bursting with veggies.

I took this photo today of the ‘share’ table holding a variety of Asian greens, pumpkin, cauliflower, limes, lettuce, passion fruit and macadamia nuts.

The share table

The share table

What you cannot see is the huge bucket of limes sitting on the ground, plus a shopping bag full of them. Volunteers also packed one of the wheelbarrows to the top with more greens and John, one of our maintenance guys, turned up with a great mound of chokos from his own garden which were welcomed with gusto by the three of us there who are ‘choko lovers’.

With my share of chokos and limes I will be to making my favourite choko, lime and ginger marmalade and I’ll be making a big pot of choko, onion and curry soup to feed the freezer.

Happy gardening.

Antique Choko Recipes

I have been tripping down memory lane. Check out these two little treasures I found on-line.

First is the link to a clipping of a choko recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly Saturday 26 May 1934. It’s under the heading “Mock Pears”.  Mrs T.W. Villiers of 14 St John Street, Ashfield N.S.W. won first prize of one pound which was probably quite a lot of money in those days.

Then I found this lovely blog with the most beautiful antique look about it. It’s French Blue and Peachy Pink and she has featured another antique recipe, in this case from her Great Aunty’s recipe book. The writer has a great sense of style and you should just see how beautiful her jars of pickles look.

In comparison here is my humble collection, 12 jars I preserved yesterday. I was quite pleased with myself and my home made labels on my computer – that is until I checked out the beautiful display of pickles on French Blue and Peachy Pink. She has raised the bar in dressing up jam jars!

Choko pickles

my (very plain) choko pickles lying about their age – but it will be June tomorrow!

And I still have three chokos left which has left me scratching my head what to do with them.

chokos ready for the pot

chokos ready for the pot

My friend Wendy has emailed me a recipe for choko soup, Maria commented on my blog that choko makes a great curry, and I have two Granny Smith cooking apples I was planning to stew with them. This proves you can never have too many chokos.

P.S. Nigel and Steven – urgent – send jam jars.

Happy gardening.

Foraging for chokos

There are many interpretations of the word ‘forgaging’. Generally I believe it means rummaging and searching for wild food. In the words of Costa off the television it’s just another form of gardening.
But for me it satisfies some sort of primal urge. And I satisfied the urge at the farm yesterday when I found a hidden cache of chokos beneath these leaves.

the choko bed

As well as rambling across the ground this huge choko plant was growing up and over our Windy Loo (truly, that is the correct name of this Australian icon – more of that on another post)

chokos growing behind the windy loo

chokos growing over the windy loo

I needed a Tarzan to harvest this choko which was tantalising behind my reach.  Either I persuade someone to risk life and limb to get it – or we can wait until it drops.
The one that got away

The one that got away

I collected my harvest in a basket. I think they are a beautiful vegetable. I have written about chokos before, they are treated as a very humble vegetable here in Queensland as they grow so prolifically, almost like weeds, and some would say they are tasteless but I think they have a very delicate taste when steamed.

The wonderful, and I think interesting, thing about chokos is the fact that they take on the flavours of whatever they are cooked with. I am told that after the war when some foods were at a premium the choko was mixed with pears (in tins) and people couldn’t tell the difference.

But with such an abundance you need to be a bit more adventurous and use them in other ways. So today I’ll be making some choko pickles. Photographs to follow tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is the result of my labours so far.

results of my labours

choko harvest

Happy gardening.

A visit to the allotment with my brother David

My brother David is over from the UK and I took him with me to the allotment this morning. He bought his camera along and snapped away.

My first sweet potato of the season. It’s a beauty. (We had it with dinner this evening, roasted in the oven.)

DSCN2758

Then I picked a lovely fresh cos lettuce. Time for David to get out his zoom lens (the old show-off)

DSCN2793

Then we took our morning’s pickings over to the communal sink and he took this shot of the harvest – a bucket full of sweet potato, cos lettuce and a few rocket leaves. The little white choko is from the share table, it had been abandoned and needed a good home.

DSCN0428

Finally David captured this lovely shot of a flower on my allotment which I planted there to encourage the good insects and bees.

DSCN2779

Happy gardening.

Choko – a wonder vegetable?

I enjoyed a couple of hours tidying up the allotment this morning and was given a few chokos much to my delight. Thank you Judith.

When I first emigrated from the UK over 30 years ago I had never come face to face with a choko.  That is, until my neighbour gave me a bucket full.  He had a vigorous choko vine growing up his fence and he could have fed the whole of Brisbane from that vine.

The choko is a vigorous perennial vine which is easy to grow in mild climates and I am told that years ago no self respecting Brisbane suburban garden was without a choko vine.  But for some reason this much maligned vegetable has been treated by so many with disdain.

Like a lot of things I reckon, if it’s easy to come by then the item is considered of little value. When you consider how prolific a choko vine is, this humble veggie falls into that category.

Well, I want to change all that and speak up for this versatile vegetable – the under-dog of the veggie world.

The choko itself has a very delicate flavour (I have heard the word ‘tasteless’ bandied about by some unbelievers).  Ignoring those sort of remarks, I enjoy it steamed and served with salt and pepper and a knob of butter.  But what I find most interesting, and adds to it’s versatility, is that chokos will take on the flavour of what ever they are cooked with.

For instance, if you are making an apple pie and are running a bit short of apples, chop up a choko, add it to the apple, and most people wouldn’t know the difference as it takes on the flavour of the apple. Cook it with pears and the same thing happens.

It is just as versatile in a savoury dish. Great when used in a curry or a stir-fry.  And Heather, one of the ladies I meet regularly at Beelarong, makes the most wonderful choko pickle from her vine.

I could rabbit on all day on the subject, but to save your eyes glazing over (I hope) I have attached links to a few websites with choko recipes.  Live dangerously, go on, have a go!

Choko pickles 

Choko Greek style and for dessert Poached Chokos

General information and Fried Choko with Mint Pesto recipe

Jerry Coleby-Williams

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