lilly pilly

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Lilly Pilly has become a somewhat popular garden ornamental here in Melbourne. A beautiful dense green rainforest tree native to coastal Australia with white flowers that turn into deep pink berries. It was with little surprise that a friend and I spotted a heavy laden tree on the side of the road on an afternoon walk. A convenient plastic bag stuffed in a pocket for just such an occasion made a perfect vessel to carry the fruits home once picked.

We ventured to make Lilly Pilly Jam. I have to say the end result left much to be desired. I think this is mainly because we didn’t have enough pectin and ended up boiling and boiling it to try to get it to set… as a result it ended up tasting more of sugar than anything else. Next time I think adding some apple and more lemon seeds might be a good idea to help it set. And perhaps the laborious task of de-seeding each berry might be worthwhile too.

What we did

Washed the liily pilly fruits and removed any stalks etc
Placed them in a saucepan with enough water to just cover the berries (next time I think I would add less water)
Allowed to boil for about half an hour
Strained, and returned the liquid to the saucepan, adding 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup liquid
Added juice of 1 lemon to every 4 cups liquid and tied the seeds up in a cloth and placed in the saucepan
Gently boiled until set when tested on a spoon in the fridge
Transferred into sterilised jars

Preserving Olives

June 13, 2011 § 11 Comments

We live in one of the old Greek and Italian neighbourhoods of Melbourne. One of those suburbs that every now and again sport concrete lawns dotted with olive and lemon trees. A very particular aesthetic that I myself am not particularly partial to but nevertheless, I appreciate the mini suburban farms even though embedded in a cement landscape of which I can only imagine is a good way of keeping out the weeds.  I am lucky enough to enjoy the advice of an old greek man who sometimes happens by when I’m in the front yard. He leans over the fence, a subtle aroma of cigarettes, commenting on the progress of our orange tree and the vegies in the garden. I enjoy the aged and wisened advice, it is the stuff I cherish most.

So it is at this time of year that trees are heavy with black fruit and the markets and grocers are brimming with plump and round olives.

I have never pickled olives before, and from a little research, have learned there is more than one way of going about it. Jim Massoto gives a wonderful step by step set of instructions and advice which you can find here. However his process takes 20 days in which you soak the olives in briny water that you change every day.

We decided, to go for a rather simpler option that a friend let us in on after he was given the advice from an olive seller at Preston Markets. With this method you may end up with olives that are slightly more bitter, but after tasting our friends and considering this process was much nicer on the environment as less salt would be poured down the drains, we were convinced. Also, it’s no where near as much hassle.

How to preserve olives

First, you want to make sure you pickle your olives when they are as fresh as you can get them as they are quick to spoil. Pick out any bruised or spoiled olives as they have an off flavour.

Sterilize a bunch of big jars. Wash the olives thoroughly and place in the jars. Cover with briny water (100 g salt dissolved per 1 litre water). Then pour a layer of olive oil on the top of the water and seal tightly. The fuller the better, as the less air inside the jar, the less likely they will contaminate. Leave in a dark cool place for about 3 – 4 months or until they develop a rich olive flavour. A layer of scum will develop at the top of the jar, however this is said to be helpful in taking away the bitterness of the olives.


And we wait, fingers crossed.

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