So you've grown broccoli, but how do you eat it?  Here's the place to:

  • ask how to prepare your produce using healthy recipes
  • share your healthy recipes or ask how a traditional recipe might be made healthier
  • how to store and preserve your surplus food
  • tips about healthy eating

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Taro Leaves

Peta (Samoa) tells me that taro leaves can be used like silverbeet in stews, etc, with the added benefit that they help to thicken the sauce...

Chinese New Year/Spring Lantern Festival

I was impressed with the healthy food served at the Chinese Golden Age Society's celebration of the Chinese New Year and Spring Lantern Festival.  The festival takes place over a week. 

The little balls had what tasted like a peanut butter filling in what might be a rice flour mixture, rolled in coconut.  If anyone knows what they are called and has a recipe, please share it - they were delicious!

Everything they served on the platter could also be grown here:

Did you know you can grow peanuts here in the Waikato?  There are some plants growing in the  Kitchen Garden at Hamilton Gardens in Cobham Drive at the moment - the staff will be happy to show you and tell you how to grow them.  The peanuts we harvest grow underground!

See photographs of Fungai's banana growing in Hamilton West with growing instructions on our WIC Growing discussion page.

Mandarins are a small citrus fruit great for lunch boxes.  There are many varieties available: the easy-peel varieties don't have the best flavour.  

The paper bag contains sunflower seeds imported from Mongolia: sunflowers look beautiful in your Waikato summer garden, often growing around 2 metres tall - we looked at an almost ripe seed head at the New Plants for Free propagation workshop the other night - a thing of beauty.

Sunflower seeds are a common snack food around the world.  The ones served here had been steamed and roasted.  They were spiced with what tasted like star anise despite being still in their shells! 

If anyone has a recipe of how to do this, please share it. 

The seeds husks are cracked, usually between your teeth, and discarded: they'd make a great garden mulch, as would the peanut shells. 

Did you know that people who eat slowly tend to be slimmer than people who eat fast?  Serving peanuts and seeds in their shells slows down the eating process. 

hello Kathryn, a quick search for glutinous rice ball recipes will give you lots of choices. This is one of many!

Flavoured Sunflower Seeds

I met an Asian lady at the NZ Tree Crops Conference who let me into the secret of how they flavour the sunflower seeds: they don't, the flavour is almost all in the shell, which you taste & smell as you crack the shell between your teeth. 

The seeds are stir fried in a wok or wide pan with the spices.

Flavour = taste (tongue) + smell (nose)

As with many other cultures (eg Iran), they also enjoy snacking on watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds.   The fully mature seeds are cleaned and dry roasted in the oven: usually after cooking something in the oven, the oven is switched off, the seeds are spread on a tray and popped in the oven overnight to gently dry.  They will keep for months in an airtight jar.

The advantage of snacking on seeds or nuts that are in the shell is that it slows your eating down, meaning that you are more likely to keep to an appropriate portion size (!)

More on Foraging...

The guide given for seed swaps is valid when foraging too:

* take no more than half of what is ripe
* take only what your household needs.

Share the love!

Courgette Pickle

If you have more courgettes (zucchini or young marrows) in your garden than you can use at the moment, try making the Courgette Pickle Alison Worth made at the preserving workshop last week. 

The courgettes were sliced very finely using a potato peeler.  If yours are a bit overgrown (heading towards marrow size like the one in the front of the photo), cut them into quarters lengthwise first.

They are then preserved in a spiced vinegar in sterilised jars.*  We used a special wide mouthed preserving funnel available from Mitre 10 or some kitchen supply shops - not neccessary, but useful.

Alison recommends leaving the pickle at least two weeks before eating.  

The pickles are nice in sandwiches, beside a slice of quiche, with cheese on crackers, beside a curry...

When you've finished the pickles, you can re-cycle the vinegar in a vinegrette salad dressing: 1 part acid (in this case vinegar) to 3 parts oil.

 The recipe we made was based on the BBC Good Food recipe here: 


* Sterilising your preserving jars:

Wash the jars and lids/seals thoroughly.  Put the jars into the oven at 120 degrees Celcius for at least 10 minutes.  

When you are almost ready to put your preserves into the jars, put your lids/seals in a pot of boiling water for at least 2 minutes.  

Hot preserves should always go into hot jars!  

Put hot jars onto a wooden board rather than a cold bench to avoid them cracking. 


Labelling your preserves:

When your preserves have cooled in the jars, wipe the jars clean and label them with the name of the preserve and the date - bit like labelling your seedlings!  If you make several batches of the same recipe, use the oldest ones first.

Chelsea Sugar allow you to personalise, save and print preserving labels from their web site for free at:

Free Preserving Manual

Thanks to Ginny Point for pointing out a very good preserving manual called Produce Preservation Program: canning, freezing, drying, harvesting, cold storage.  It is published in Canada - note that ‘canning’ is the north American term for what NZers call ‘bottling’. 

The manual can be downloaded for free from:

Preserving Workshop Handouts

You can download the following handouts below:

  • Alison Worth's Locovore recipes
  • Ginny Point's handout on Nutrition and Home Preserving  
  • Recommended reading - cook books

Preserving a glut with friends

It can be fun to spend an afternoon with friends preserving a shared glut of fruit or vegetables. 

One recipe that works really well for this is Janet Chadwick's recipe for Relish, Sauce and Chutney made in one pot over the course of an afternoon.  American author Barbara Kingsolver reproduced it in her interesting biographical book Animal Vegetable Miracle where she and her family lived for a year on food that they grew themselves or bought from local growers.  The recipes from the book, including the Relish, Sauce and Chutneyrecipe are on her web site:

Remember: canning = bottling.  Instead of a canner, you can use a large pot with some boiling water. 

In the recipe 'sauce' is a pasta sauce, which you could also stir into cooked mince or casseroles.

What to do with chutney and relish

Asora had been given a jar of chutney and was asking what to do with it.  Both chutney and relish can be eaten:

  • on bread or crackers or in toasted sandwiches with cheese
  • as a dip with crackers or toasted flat bread pieces
  • beside a curry
  • with cold meat - eg mint chutney with lamb
  • stired into cooked mince
  • on homemade hamburgers...

On Radio New Zealand's National chef Alison Gofton talked about preserving including the difference between chutneys and relishes you can listen online or download the podcast here.  She also gave a recipe for Red Pepper Marmalade.


"What better way to honour the gifts of this land than to make sure none of it goes to waste?"

-- Lisa Christensen, 'Te Rokiroki Kai: Preserving the gifts of Papatuanuku', an article on preserving in Organic NZ, March/April 2012, vol. 71 no.2, pages 34-35.


Lisa has some recipes for pickles, fruit vinegar and traditional Maori corn preparation. 


Want to read more?  Hamilton Ciy Libraries gets the Organic NZ magazine.

At last week's preserving workshop we made plum conserve (conserve is runnier/more liquid than jam), apple puree, preserved peeled tomatoes, pickled vegetables, apple & feijoa chutney and preserved lemons - yum!

Photos: Right: Soti (tutor) with Teresa, Evelyn and Catherine and the results of the night's work.

Below: 'Masterchef' Ma'ara.

Below:  Rainbow colours - preparing lemons and vegetables for pickling.

Below: Tasting!

Most of the preserving jars, lids and bands used in the workshop were kindly donated by Perfit.  They have tips for people preserving for the first time on their web site, including how to sterilise your jars and the basic overflow preserving method. 



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