Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Taste Test: Dweet Tangor.

Well today i decided that it was time to crack open & try one of my Dweet Tangors. They all seemed to have fully coloured up and look about the perfect ripeness to eat. So here we go.......

It was quite a large fruit, bigger than your usual supermarket Navel with a rigid, thick, pebbled rind that was surprisingly very easy to detach like a Mandarin.
Once peeled it had very little albedo left on the segments which were easy to separate for a very easy eating of the fruit.
Taste-wise it was very enjoyable. Very sweet but with just a slight tang at the end. 
Taste was mix of a rich Tangerine/Mandarin with Orange finish very flavourful.
Flesh was orange coloured & very juicy but quite delicate like a Mandarin not dry at all.
There were about 5 seeds present but for its size didn't seem to problematic.
Overall it was a very pleasant fruit to eat, way better flavour than an Orange almost like eating a giant Satsuma. 
Im excited about the up-coming Blood Oranges that are next to harvest. Still about two weeks i reckon so i can try and get some good blood colour going!



Friday, 22 July 2016

"Buddhacello" made with Buddha’s Hand Citron

After bottling my first batch of Limoncello with great success (it is very delicious!), i got to thinking that i could finally have something that i could make use of my elusive Buddha's Hands. Since there is no juice or pulp inside these squid-like fruit i have only ever used them in my fruit bowl as decoration and to scent the room with a light citron aroma. So tonight i harvested two of these beautys off my tree and with great difficulty zested them up and then added the zest into a bottle of vodka. 
I started off having to wash the hands quite thoroughly as due to some bizarre reason the hands are like a haven for ants. I actually had to wash, scrub & rinse about three times to rid of all the ant stowaways. Then to zest them up i had to slice each "tentacle" off to reach every bit of precious zest.
Once zested it was as easy as adding the zest into my Vodka bottle, rinsing it off and a long wait of about a month until i add my sugar syrup and complete my glorious "Buddhacello"!
I'll keep you posted how this turns out in about a month but i have a good feeling about this.


Zested Tentacles.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

How to make Limoncello.


I was browsing the Citrus Growers Forum the other day and came across a post about making your own Limoncello. I had always thought that Limoncello must be a closely guarded secret kept by old, weathered Italian grandfathers. Well, it turns out all you need to make truly amazing Limoncello are some good Lemons, a bottle of Vodka, and Time.
It has taken me far too long to realise how delicious, and how astoundingly easy, it is to make your own Limoncello, and with Lemons currently being in season it is perfect timing to be using them.
I first came across it in Melbourne whilst working with some incredibly funny and extremely traditional Italians at Stellini Bar. I remember someone brought in a bottle of viscous yellow liquid which was kept in the freezer and was the best, pulled out of the freezer & poured straight onto ice during those hot Melbourne summers. Limoncello is smooth and sweet with an intense lemon flavor. It can be sipped on its own, mixed into sparkling water, or shaken into cocktails. Limoncello can range from very sweet to super tart and citrusy, as the maker of the limoncello, that's something that you get to decide.

The great thing about Limoncello is how easy it is to make. Its simply infusing lemon peel/zest into vodka. No distilling or secret ingredients required. After letting the peels and vodka mingle for anywhere from a few days to a month, it's strained, mixed with sugar syrup, chilled and just like that, we have Limoncello!

Standard lemons are just fine for making limoncello, though you can also branch out into other citrus fruits like Grapefruits, Oranges, Yuzu or even the mysterious Buddha Hand-Buddhacello!
You only use the lemon zest for this project. I've found this easiest to do with a microplane thats on my grater, but you can also use a vegetable peeler. Just try to get the skin alone and as little pith as possible. With the leftover lemons, you can make a batch of Lemonade or Whiskey Sours.
The alcohol prevents any mould or bacteria from growing on the zest. Once strained, the limoncello can be kept in the freezer for at least a year, and likely much longer. If your limoncello is over a year old, discard it if it tastes off or you see any mold growing in the bottle.

  1. Peel the lemons: Use a Microplane or Zester to remove the zest from 15 lemons. Try to remove only the outer yellow skin and as little of the pith as possible.
  2. Cover the peels with vodka: Transfer the lemon zest to a 1 litre bottle of Vodka and screw on the lid.
  3. Infuse the vodka: Let the vodka and lemon peels infuse somewhere out of the way and out of direct sunlight for about a month. The longer you let the vodka infuse, the more lemony your Limoncello. Most of the lemon flavor is extracted in those first few days, but you'll also get a stronger, bolder flavor the longer you let it sit.
  4. Strain the vodka: Line a strainer with a large coffee filter and set it over a big enough vessel. Strain the infused vodka through the filter. You may need to stir the vodka in the strainer if the flow stops.
  5. Prepare sugar syrup: Prepare a sugar syrup of  5 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar, bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar to dissolve; allow to cool. Add desired amount to the infused vodka, taste, and add more simple syrup to taste. You can play with the ratios of water to sugar here, More water will dilute the alcohol base, making a less alcoholic, milder, and smoother-sipping liqueur. More sugar will make a sweeter Limoncello.
  6. Bottle the limoncello: Insert the funnel in the neck of one of the bottles and fill with Limoncello.
  7. Chill and store: Chill the limoncello in the fridge or freezer for at least 4 hours before drinking. Limoncello can be kept in the fridge for up to a month or the freezer for up to a year (and often much longer!)

Monday, 11 July 2016

My Fruit Tree Inventory.


For those of you interested, i did an inventory of my fruiting plants as of today - 94! 45 of which are Citrus. Its quite a collection for such a small property (500m2). As you may know, there is always room for one more tree friend, so it may still continue to grow! It is however getting more & more difficult to find a spot for new friends to go in. When these guys all get full size it will be a literal Food Forest which i really like the idea of. When planting, i have always tried to do so with the principles of Permaculture Food Forests in mind (though i have a mix of Fruits, Natives & other Tropicals). Tall Canopy Trees provide shelter from the harsh, drying summer sun to the smaller trees & shrubs. Then, with smaller yet bushes & ground covers to cover the ground to protect & prevent drying out of the soil. I haven't fully adopted Permaculture or Organic principles but i like the idea of both and like to adopt them as much as possible to try & be as ecologically responsible as i can. As far as cultivar choices go, i primarily choose based on fruits that are rare & unusual; that you won't usually see at the supermarket. Fruit such as Fingerlimes, Blood Orange, Yuzu, Kumquats and Figs. All which are exquisite and should be more popular but often don't travel or store well, or are just too unusual for the mainstream market.

6x Tahitian
2x Australian Fingerlime
2x Key Lime
1x Kusaie
1x Kaffir

1x Scarlett Burgess
1x Miho
1x Silverhill
1x Encore
1x Satsuma
1x Okitsu Wase
1x W. Murcott Afourer

3x Moro Blood Orange
1x Sanguinelli Blood Orange
1x Tarocco Blood Orange
2x Cara Cara
1x Cipo
1x Bergamot
1x Seville

1x Meyer
1x Eureka
1x Lemonade

1x Nagami
1x Indio Mandarinquat
1x Calamondin
1x Meiwa

1x Tangor Dweet
1x Tangor Ugli
1x Tangor Kiyomi
1x Tangelo Seminole

1x Grapefruit
1x Pomelo
2x Yuzu
1x Buddha Hand
1x Chinotto

1x Apollo
2x Golden Goose
1x Mammoth

1x Golden Queen
1x Pixzee
1x Bonanza
1x Black Boy

1x Pacific Rose
1x Initial

3x Black
1x Red Banana
1x Sweet Granadilla

2x Coffee
1x Banana
1x Nectarine
3x Avocado "Hass"
1x Plum "Black Doris"
1x Pear "Beurre Bosc"
1x Nashi Double Graft "Hosui" with "Nijiseiki"
3x Blueberrys
1x Cape Gooseberry
1x Gooseberry Invicta
1x Elderflower
1x Lemon Myrtle
1x Mulberry
1x Pomegranate "Wonderful"
1x Tropical Apricot (Dovyalis hebecarpa)
1x Fig
1x Blackcurrant
1x Redcurrant
1x Mountain PawPaw
1x Guava
2x Lemongrass
1x Chilean Guava

2x Red
2x "Bold Gold"

Albany Surprise


Saturday, 2 July 2016

Key Lime Pie Recipe

My Mum Brenda, who lives down in Katikati in the Bay of Plenty, popped up to visit 
the other day and luckily for me she brought me a big bag of Limes from her Lime trees. I gave her a few trees a few Christmas's ago and helped plant them in and she is always very generous in sharing her excess produce. I still have some on my trees too but i manage to get through them fairly easily. With such a haul i thought that i should make a Key Lime Pie as i have wanted to try the recipe out for a while now. Though these limes are Tahitian Limes, i don't think there should be much difference in flavour. This is a staple recipe from the Florida area (i.e.: the Florida Keys) where Key Limes used to reign supreme. Nowadays due to Hurricanes that have wiped out a lot of the Key Lime Plantations in Florida, a lot of the US's Key Limes come primarily from Mexico or Guatemala. Floridian Lime orchards were subsequently replaced with the less thorny Persian (Tahitian) Lime.Here's the Recipe:

Key Lime Pie

4 Egg Yolks
1 cup Fresh Lime Juice
2 x (414ml) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs or Ginger Nut Crumbs
6 TBS (60gm) Butter, melted.

1. Combine crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press mixture into the bottom of a 12-inch springform pan. Bake at 180º C. for 10-15mins. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Sweetened Condensed Milk and the Eggs and mix until the eggs are fully incorporated. Add the key lime juice and mix again until well mixed. 
3. Pour mixture into the cooled Pie Crust. Bake at 180º C for 15-20mins until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged.
3. Let fully cool before slicing. 
4. Top off with whipped cream on the top if desired as below or perhaps Meringue.

"Tequila" Key Lime Pie:
Add in 1-2 TBS of Tequila into the Filling mixture before filling the Pie Crust.


Kumquats are Citrus with edible fruit that closely resembles that of the Orange but it is much smaller, being approximately the size and shape of a large Olive. They differ also by having edible sweet rinds with relatively sour flesh inside. Kumquats are a cold hardy Citrus.

The plants are native to Southern Asia. The earliest historical reference to Kumquats appears in Chinese literature in the 12th century. They have long been cultivated throughout Asia in IndiaJapanTaiwan, the Philippines, and China. They were introduced to Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune, collector for the London Horticultural Society, and shortly thereafter into North America

They are slow-growing small trees, from 2m to 4.5m tall, with dense branches, sometimes bearing small thorns. The leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers are white, similar to other citrus flowers. Depending on size & maturity, the kumquat tree can produce hundreds or even thousands of fruits each year.

Here are the varieties available in New Zealand:

Nagami Kumquat: is oval in shape. It has a relatively small number of segments (four to five) and contains 2 to 5 seeds. Nagami fruit have a deep orange colour and a distinctive flavour. The rind is pleasantly sweet with very sour juice & flesh. A mature specimen can bear a crop of up to 3500 fruits. Nagami is in season from April to July in NZ. This was the first kumquat to arrive in the Western world. The plant was introduced from China to London in 1846 by Robert Fortune, plant explorer for the Royal  Horticultural Society. I have a Nagami in my garden at home but is currently very small.

Indio Mandarinquat: came about from an open pollinated seedling that sprung up under a large old Nagami tree at UCLA. It is a kumquat-mandarin hybrid with orange bell-shaped fruit much larger than a typical kumquat. The sweet peel is eaten along with the tart flesh for a unique flavour combination. This variety usually blooms during the summer months and produces abundant crops of fruit that stay on the tree during the winter months. Indio looks like a giant kumquat, with similar tangy-sweet flesh and edible rind. A very decorative tree. I have one in my garden at home quite large at 1.5m and is four years old. It is however a very reluctant fruiter and I've only ever had two fruits off him. This spring i'll give him some extra TLC to see if this helps with fruiting. Maybe some Potassium in the form of ‘Sulphate of Potash’ to promote the growth of flowering buds (and therefore fruit).

Meiwa Kumquat: is thought to be a natural hybrid between the oval Nagami and round Marumi kumquats. The most distinctive features of this Kumquat are the short round form, the more numerous sections (commonly seven), the very thick and sweet rind and comparatively sweet flavour, and the low seed content. Many fruits are seedless. This is the best kumquat variety for eating fresh as it has the sweetest juice and is the most popular Kumquat in NZ. I tried one at the Garden Centre the other day & it has surprisingly sweet skin! The flesh is still a little tart though. Meiwa was introduced from Japan between 1910 and 1912. The tree is a dwarf, frequently thornless, the leaves differ from those of other kumquats in being very thick and rigid and partly folded lengthwise & pitted with numerous dark-green oil glands.

Eustis Limequats: are a hybrid of Mexican Limes & a Round Kumquat made in 1909. Trees are more cold-tolerant than a regular lime but not as hardy as the Kumquat. Fruit is used much like a Lime. I tasted one recently and it was like eating a Lime so i don't really see the appeal apart from the novelty factor. Limequats are oval or round, 2-4 cm wide with thin, pale-yellow, smooth, glossy skin with prominent oil glands. Inside the flesh is edible but very acid like a Lime. It is light greenish in 6 to 9 segments, juicy, with 5 to 12 small seeds. Trees are early ever-bearing but mainly in autumn to winter. The tree produces pure-white flower buds and flowers prolifically.

Calamondin: is an acid fruit that is most commonly grown in the Philippines.  It is believed to be a natural hybrid of a Kumquat & a Mandarin Orange. It is also sometimes called a Calamansi.  It is an unusual but beautiful tree, its form is upright & columnar, the leaves are small & dense giving the tree a fine textural appearance.  The fruits are small, round, & orange at full maturity ripening around May. The orange flesh is acidic, juicy, and contains a few seeds. Calamondin trees flower and set fruit intermittently throughout the year, adding to the decorative appeal of these trees.  It can come in variegated form, which i have at home, with yellow & green marbled leaves and striped fruit ripening to Orange colour. The fruit have a thin sweet mandarin flavoured skin and a tart sour-mandarin flavoured flesh. Culinary uses are mainly to add a citrus zing to drinks. Other uses are for citrus flavour in baking & Marmalade.