Category Archives: Foraging

Homemade Limoncello

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on August 14, 2018

Homemade Limoncello

 

INGREDIENTS
 

5 lemons - washed (you can also subsittute limes if you wish)

1 ½ cups castor sugar

350ml vodka (don’t buy the cheapest, you will notice the difference)

375ml water

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

Peel the lemons and place the peel and the peeled lemon (cut into cubes) into a large bowl.

Add the castor sugar and water into a pot and place over an element until the sugar has dissolved. Let the sugar syrup cool.

Add the cooled sugar syrup to the lemons and lemon peel.

Add the vodka and stir gently.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to allow to infuse for at least 48 hours.

Strain the liquid through a sieve discarding the peel and the lemons.

Using a funnel, pour the liquid into bottles and store in the fridge.

Serve well chilled over ice.

A little known fruit the Persimmon

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on May 17, 2018

A little known fruit - the Persimmon.

 

As we arrived at the Pick Your Own Orchard, a group of Chinese tourists were just leaving with their boot of their car packed to the brim with bags of Persimmons. “$300 worth of Persimmons they just purchased” explained the Ross, the owner of the Shiziyuan Persimmon Orchard.

The kids and I watched as they drove off and we too grabbed our plastic bags to start picking, but I explained carefully, we will not be picking $300’s worth, just half a bag full for now shall do.

For us, it certainly is a fruit not so familiar to our fruit bowl, and many have not heard nor tasted a Persimmon before.

It is not a surprise however, that the Persimmon is very highly regarded in the Asian culture with a near religious following, being Japan’s national fruit and originating from China. Being bright reddish in colour and shaped like a round Chinese lantern, they symbolise luck and often used for festive decorations and they are often given as lucky presents to newlyweds to symbolise eternal love. They are also often planted in temples as it is said four virtues - long life, sheltering birds, giving shade and freedom from insects and pests.

 

In the western world however, the persimmon has remained more of a home gardener sort of fruit. But why not change that? Persimmons are such a versatile fruit and easy to grow. They are really reliable croppers and mostly disease free. And provide a beautiful backdrop with their leaves turning spectacular shades of fiery red and burst of orange after their harvests in late autumn - even in the mildest climates. And did you know that Persimmons are technically considered a berry?!! Maybe a Persimmon tree in your backyard is not a bad idea? When slightly unripe, they have an apple-like crunch with a sweet and slight nutty flavour and when fully ripe they become a juicy, sweet, syrupy basket of goodness and this is what our Japanese and Chinese friends are obsessed with.

 

There are two main types of Persimmon, astringent and non-astringent. Historically all Persimmon were astringent and not edible until they were completely ripe. Because of their astringent nature, they could also not be transported or kept very well, until in the 1960’s when Israeli plant breeders developed (often believed by accident) the first non-astringent Persimmon. It meant that Persimmon could be eaten while still firm and shipped practically anywhere in the world (and stored for months). Today non- astringent Persimmons are the norm and grown worldwide, the most common type of non-astringent Persimmon in the Fruyu.

 

Persimmon tea leaves are also said to have superb health benefits. They are high in fibre and high in tannins which can help digestion. They also have properties that can help prevent high blood pressure. In parts of Japan, the leaves are used to wrap sushi as they have antiseptic properties.

 

A trip out to the Persimmon Farm is definitely worth the trip out not, not just for a foodie adventure but to have a good old chat to Ross, who as it turns out, grew up on a big farm, not far from our base here at the Vineyard Cottages, he has a huge wealth of local knowledge, he worked at the historical dairy farm in Helensville and he can tell you many stories of local happenings and of course is super passionate about anything Persimmons! Ross has been on this property for over 20 years now and has opened his orchard to the public for the last 20 years. This ANZAC Day was his busiest day yet! Find him at 152 Rimmer Road, Helensville open for Pick Your Own from ANZAC Day till June (if the birds don’t get to the Persimmons first).

 

The Big Foody's top 8 ways to indulge in Feijoas

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on March 14, 2018

The Big Foody's top 8 ways to indulge in Feijoas

New to Feijoa's or looking for ways to use up the kilo's of them scattered throughout the garden?

Here are out Top 8 favourite ways to indulge in Feijoa's;

  • Make a Feijoa Cake
  • Serve them on top of some Greek Yogurt (for breakfast or dessert) or on top of your cereal.
  • Smoothies!! Feijoas in smoothies are the best! and can be used as a substitute for bananas in smoothies as they have a very similar consistency.
  • Make a Feijoa Crumble
  • Stew them with a little bit of brown sugar and pour them over some Vanilla Ice-Cream for dessert, or Hokey- Pokey ice-cream for a real New Zealand treat!
  • Jam them - try this fabulous Vanilla and Feijoa jam
  • Freeze them, so that you can have the above all-year round! (tips on how best to freeze them on our website now).

 

Join us on a Big Foody Food Tour during the Feijoa season (between March and June) and we will go to the utmost effort to get you sampling Feijoa's!!

Freshly baked Feijoa Cake - delicious!!

Feijoas!! An Autumn Jewel has arrived

Posted by Joe-Ann Day on March 14, 2018

Feijoa’s!! An Autumn Jewel has arrived!

 

Finally we have started to see Feijoa’s starting to ripen on their trees, laying on the dewy grass under their trees in the morning waiting to be picked up and even our local fruit and veggie shop has as a small offering available to purchase.

 

But what are these Feijoa’s that New Zealanders seem to have such a cult following for?

A pretty ordinary (looking at it from the outside) green, egg-shaped fruit, but what's inside is a delicacy that has a long-awaited cult-like following every year. With a very distinctive but yet very complex flavour distinction, the inside of the fruit is juicy and made up of a clear gelatin-like seedy pulp, that becomes firmer as you get closer to the edge of the skin, with a grainy texture. The texture can be described as a mix between a pear and a guava and with the taste being described anywhere from sweet, tart, sour and of course juicy somewhere between a strawberry, pineapple and guava and with the odd person even tasting a hint of mint!

There is one thing that we can definitely say and that is that a Feijoa tastes like a Feijoa!! An indescribable, unique and complex taste! One that should definitely be on everyone’s to try-list at least once!

 

Feijoas are however not a native to New Zealand, but originate from southern South America namely southern Brazil, Uruguay, western Paraguay and northern Argentina. Feijoas need a very specific subtropical climate to grow and this is why even in New Zealand, Feijoas are not abundant throughout the whole country, finding Feijoa in Christchurch for instance is a complete rarity.

The first Feijoa were actually collected in the wild rainforests of southern  Brazil by a German botanist in 1815. They were introduced into New Zealand over a hundred or so years later in the 1920’s.

 

The cult- following of Feijoas is intensified, by the very short season that they are ripe. The Feijoa season starts in March and goes till June (these days we are very luck by the number of different varieties available to us, giving us continued fruiting trees throughout that season). To make matters worse for Feijoa lovers, Feijoas are also very prone to bruising, so unfortunately very hard to keep (or travel long distances).

 

Delicious to eat fresh, make jams or bake with! Feijoas’ are a definite favourite here at the Big Foody Food Tours. Join us on a tour in March to June and we will go to the utmost effort to get you sampling Feijoas on our tours!

Not available fresh? New Zealand is obsessed with ‘feijoa flavoured’ products! Try our favourite and their bestselling Feijoa Chocolate from Bennetts at Mangawhai, Simply Squeezed’s Feijoa Smoothies readily available in Supermarkets or Macey’s Feijoa lollies available in most dairies.


 

Fresh New Zealand Feijoas

It's beautiful, it's brooding, it's the Oregon Coast in Winter

Posted by Laura Morgan on January 18, 2018

The Oregon Coast, or the People’s Coast as it is proudly claimed by locals, is broody, devastatingly beautiful, and at this time of year, more than 50 shades of gray.  Every single one of the 363 miles of Oregon’s coastline are open and free to be enjoyed by the public, officially since 1967, which along with the impressive network of state parks that beeline the coast, is what makes a visit to Oregon’s coastline truly must-see-before-you-die. But right now, it’s winter, what do we eat when we get there?

Dungeness Crab

Luckily for us on the west coast, this is exactly the time the Dungeness crabs are plump and ready to pull out of the ocean. James Beard, the father of modern American cuisine, and native Oregonian once said, “Dungeness Crab is sheer, unadulterated crab heaven.” (See below for James Beard’s beloved deviled crab recipe.) Or, as Bethany Jean Clement, food writer for The Seattle Times, put it in her story this time last year, “At its freshest, Dungeness crab tastes only as oceanic as the wind off the water, more delicate and closer to sweet than anything from the bottom of the sea should imaginably be.”

Commercially speaking, Dungeness crabs weren’t filling out their shells yet on December 1st, Oregon’s official crab harvest opening date, and are now in pricing negotiations with buyers, so commercial harvest for Dungeness still hasn’t started as I’m writing this. Recreational harvest, however, is up and running and people are able to crab pot up and down the Oregon coast from the mouth of the Columbia River to Cape Blanco in the south.

I could tell you how to go crabbing, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has you covered.

For more resources, including required licenses and rules of harvest, visit Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife here: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/licenses_regs/

For updates on closures and openings when you’re planning your trip: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/FoodSafety/Shellfish/Pages/ShellfishClosures.aspx

 

Fish

Dungeness crab isn’t the only thing you can find coming out of the ocean right now. Lingcod, Rockfish, Sole, Flounder and Black Cod can also be found fresh at fishmongers all over Oregon. In my opinion, though, black cod is what you’re looking for.

Also known as sablefish in Jewish delis on the USA’s east coast and in many parts of the rest of the world, it is delicate, fatty and perfectly flaky when done. Probably the best fish, aside from a gorgeous Pacific Northwest salmon, that I’ve ever eaten, for one very simple reason: smoking. There is nothing better in the world than a rainy day spent next to the smoker with the promise of flaky, savory smoked black cod in your near future. I’ll post my recipe with pictures of this (and our other adventures in Portland and beyond) on our Instagram page. And if you’re in Portland, go pick up some black cod, already smoked to perfection for you from Portland Fish Market (4404 SE Woodstock Blvd.) or Flying Fish Company (2340 NE Sandy). Both shops have other seafood treats as well, like oysters on the half shell and fish & chips, or other take away items for your perfect winter picnic or dinner in.

 

Recipes

Beards’ recipe for Deviled Crab, so simple, but so, so good.

 

In the meantime, stay tuned to The Big Foody PDX for new Northern Coast food and drink tours coming online end of summer 2018! We’re so excited to share the beauty and deliciousness of the Oregon Coast with you!

 

RESOURCES FOR SOURCING SEAFOOD SUSTAINABLY

Oregon Seafood Watch

Oregon’s Seafood Consumer Guide 2017 from OSU’s Sea Grant Program (what to look for at the fishmonger)

Dungeness Crab Buying Guide from FishChoice​