Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When life gives you elderberries then make some ....

Elderberry jam.

I kept putting it off, every day I'd see quite a few bunches of ripe elderberries and next day most would be gone, probably eaten by birds.

This weekend, I decided to try and make something out of them as there were more ripe bunches than usual. So, I picked a plastic grocery bag full, sat next to my wife watching tv and took all these berries off the stems using another plastic bag - these berries pack a beautifull purple colour, so best not to use your uncovered hands. This is the worst part, getting those thousands of little berries dislodged and removing all the small pieces of stem.

Then I just put it in a small pot (probably 1 quart), the berries filing it about 1/2 way, added very little boiling water, turned the heat up until it started to boil, then added about 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar and kept on boiling it, tasting it every now and again. At first I thought it would be a complete waiste as it tasted bitter and not edible at all, but the longer I cooked it, the better it started tasting. After aobut 20 minutes or so, it started to become sticky, so I let it cool and put the sticky mess into a small jam jar I had my wife keep and wash.

This stuff is delicious ! Unlike anything I've ever tasted, with the skin and many seeds, it has a crunchy texture and is quite chewy. The colour is unbelieveable, dark burgundy, must be loaded with anti-oxidants. Try it on toasted sour dough bread with butter, then add some brie or sharp cheddar on top ... hmm heaven.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pomegranate update

First I tried foot sox to protect the pomegranates from the leaf footed bugs. They simply ignore them and still suck the juices making them rot.

Then I tried paper bags made from thick magazine glossy paper. I found this almost ripe pomegranate invaded and ruined by monkey beetles, which made a hole in the paper to find the pomegranate and then tunneled right through the foot sox also.

Seems foot sox and paper bags are not going to do it in Florida. Next up ? Maybe I'll try window screen, the nylon type, just need to figure out how to make a bag from it, so that pomegranate is in the middle and insects can't reach it through the mesh, the other option I was thinking is to use row cover material and make bags out of that.  Oh the length us fruit nuts will go through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I really wanted a passionfruit vine. I never thought in my wildest dreams it would be this invasive. It started innocent, 3 little vines growing along a trellis, they were supposed to just fill the trellis and any tendrils overgrowing would just be pruned.

It turns out these are lillikoi or yellow passionfruit Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa - read up on it and you'll discover this vigorous vine quickly smothers and engulfs anything in its path.

Here's the problem, its taking over a substantial part of the garden, not only vinining and smothering everything in its path, its also growing on the ground, space that I normally use to grow squash and pumpkins in the fall. Not only has it overgrown the trellis to the point that the wires basically snapped and can no longer support the weight, its engulfing the largest plant in my garden, a travellers palm. If you just turn your back on it and come back a few days later, the tendrils are starting to vine into anything in its path.

If it was laden with delicous yellow passionfruit, I might overlook its aggressive behavior, but after flowering on an off since January 2010, I have yet to see a single fruit.

 I have to make a decision about it soon, before it becomes almost impossible to get rid of it. Another reason why its hard to get rid of it - I see tonnes of Gulf Fritillary butterflies around it, its one of their hosts plants.