So you've grown broccoli, but how do you eat it? Here's the place to:
Rhubarb a vegetable that is eaten as a fruit!
Eat the stalks only – these may be green or red. Do not eat raw: cook until soft. Twist some of the outer stems off at the base, leaving the center stalks to continue growing.
There is a recipe for stewing rhubarb in the Heart Foundation ‘cheap eats’ cookbook that we sent out with the last newsletter, see page 23 (also available online here as a pdf).
Stewed rhubarb is great to eat with your breakfast cereal or porridge, and/or yogurt. I sometimes stew it with apples and/or sultanas for natural sweetness. You can stew it in the microwave without having to add water. Some people like to bake it slowly in the oven.
Use the stewed rhubarb as a base for sponge pudding or a fruit crumble – see pg 24, or use the feijoa, apple and rhubarb crumble recipe on the 5+ a Day website – feijoas and apples are in season now (ie the fruit is being picked at the moment).
Rhubarb muffins are also a favourite, often spiced with cinnamon. Walnuts make a nice addition to the mix.
There are many healthy rhubarb recipes on the HFG web site, including rhubarb chutney: http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/search/site/rhubarb
Plant notes: Rhubarb is a perennial plant, but it will often die back in winter. If it flowers, cut the flower stem off. It is usually propagated by division. Do not harvest from a new plant in the first year.
For more on how to grow rhubarb, see the WIC Growing discussion.
What to do with Green Tomatoes
At the end of the growing season you are likely to find you have some green tomatoes on the plants you are pulling out. They can be cooked to make some delicous food. The movie Fried Green Tomatoes was named after an American way of using them. The chef and back yard gardener Nigel Slater has a savoury Green Tomato Chutney recipe and a green tomato chicken recipe.
My family's favourite is Green Tomato and Ginger Jam, which tastes a bit like marmalade and is eaten on toast or bread, sometimes with a thin slice or two of cheese.
If I am short on time, I chop the fruit and ginger in a food processor/kitchen whizz - it doesn't look as pretty but it still tastes good!
1.3 kg (3 lb) green tomatoes, sliced finely.
3 lemons, sliced finely or minced.
1 kg sugar (2 1/4 lb) sugar - white or brown
120 g preserved ginger - stem or glace.
100 ml of water or green ginger wine (optional)
Wash your jars and lids.
To stop the fruit sticking, either grease a large pot with a little oil or add a 100 ml of water/green ginger wine.
Add the fruit, ginger to the pan and heat gently until the juice is starting to come out, then add the sugar. Many people add a few drops of oil to stop scum forming on top. Boil until it will set when tested - put a little on a cold plate, leave for a few minutes, then check it is a thick consistency. This may take about 45 minutes.
While it is cooking, put your jars into the oven set at 110 degrees Celcius for at least 20 minutes: this is to sterilise your jars (kill any bugs).
When the jam is ready, ladle into hot sterilised jars (don't put them onto a cold bench or they may break: put them on some newspaper or a wooden board) and seal the jars.
If you are using screw bands, remove them after 24 hours. Wipe down the jars once they are cool. Store in a cool dark cupboard. Enjoy!
Because of the sugar content, the recommended portion size for jam is 1 tsp per piece of toast.
There are many flowers that you can eat.
Nasturtiums are available in shades from cream, through yellow, orange, red and chocolate.
They are a good addition to salads.
The leaves are also edible, they have a peppery flavour.
It is often grown under fruit trees, as it is said to attract beneficial insects.
The plants do well in dry poor soil, so the plants are sometimes found in weedy areas. It was growing wild at the Grandview Community Garden.
Some people pickle the buds and seeds.
Some of the WIC Advisory Group members tasted nasturtiums at the HOGs garden in Fairfield: they want to plant some!
Best planted in spring - they are frost tender. Planting them under trees provides some protection from frosts.
Photo: nasturtium flower with rounded leaves, and with the brassica rocket.
Edible Flowers - Day Lilies (Hemerocallis)
The flowers not only look beautiful, they taste sweet. They make a good cake decorations, and are used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Remove the stamens - some people are allergic to the pollen.
Otherwise, all parts of the plant are edible.
Used in Asian cooking, often dried and called 'golden needles', they are used to thicken soups and stews.
Perennial plants, easy to grow - often seen around Hamilton grown on traffic islands.
On Tuesday 5th of June the fortnightly cooking class at the Migrant Resource Centre from 4 to 6 pm will cover how to bake sponge cake and how to decorate it for a wedding or birthday party. All welcome.
One option is to decorate your cake with edible flowers – my wedding cake was decorated with lavender, for example. The UK Royal Baker Fiona Cairns has a recipe for a layered apricot almond sponge cake decorated with rose petals and River Cottage have a recipe for 'Veg Patch' Gnome Cakes decorated with the flowers of borage, fennel and pot marigolds (calendula).
I think a sweet day lily (above) would look stunning decorating a chocolate cake!
Daylilies grow from a tuber, which Owen says is meant to be delicious, like small sweet potato. Have any of you tried them?
Fuchsia – All flowers and berries edible, some more delicious than others.
The NZ tree fuchsia (Kōtukutuku, Fuchsia excorticata) - is thought to be the largest fuchsia in the world. The berries are delicious. Both the tree fuchsia and the NZ trailing fuchsia (Fuchsia procumbens - see photo) are unusual as their pollen is blue. The trailing fuchsia is thought to be the smallest fuchsia in the world. It is an excellent groundcover for shaded areas.
A NZ native, pohuehue is very hardy, it will grow in sandy soil and forms a groundcover.
The fleshy flowers are like tiny, juicy fruit with a mild sweet flavour.
There is another illustrated list of edible flowers here (USA).
Violets come in several colours, from white, through pink to deep purple. The flowers smell beautiful.
The flowers are sometimes glazed with sugar and used as cake decorations, although the flavour is very mild.
The leaves can be eaten a bit like spinach - which is good because they grow like a weed in my garden!
I sometimes use the leaves in stir fries.