http://www.cpod.org.au/The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website www.songsofthegarden.com
SPICE IT UPwith Ian Hemphill from Herbies Spiceswww.herbies.com.au
Have you ever thought of eating wattleseed?
Not all wattleseeds are edible but those that are can be eaten cooked or dried and milled into a flour.
Acacia pycnantha is on the list as having edible wattle seeds.
The seeds of this genus, or group of plants has been used by indigenous Australians for thousands of years.
They crushed the seed into flour between flat grinding stones and cooked cakes or damper with it.
Let’s find out what how we can use it in cooking.
PLAY: Wattleseed_2nd July_2014
You might be surprised to learn that wattleseed has been commercially used as a flavouring component in some foods since 1984.
The main species that have been used traditionally as food and now for seed harvest are
• Acacia retinodes – Silver Wattle
• Acacia longifolia var. sophorae – Coastal Wattle.
So it turns out that wattle seed tastes like chocolate, coffee and hazelnut.
It’s often added to ice cream, chocolates and bread, but don’t stop there,- you can use it in whipped cream and other dairy desserts.
There’s even a beer brewery that makes Wattle Seed Ale.
The best thing is that Wattleseed contains potassium, calcium, iron and zinc in fairly high concentrations so it’s really good for you.
VEGETABLE HEROES Caper Bush
I’m going for something out of the
ordinary, and it’s capers.
Capers that you buy in the supermarket look like little green soft fruits that sometimes come in a brine and sometimes are packed in pure salt in jars.
Capers or Caparis spinosa sometimes Caparis spinosa rupestris, is actually a bush which is called caper bush.
Caper bush with flowers and buds
If your region can grow olives, grapes, almonds, and pistachios, then you can also grow capers.
Have you ever eaten Spaghetti alla Puttanesca,- that’s chockers with capers, what about Penne with anchovies, capers and toasty crumbs?
Ever heard of caper butter on crusty bread with vegetables and meats, or used in stuffing for fish?
The possibilities are endless.
For a bit of history, did you know that capers are an ancient food and legend has it that Cleopatra served capers at feasts intended to win the love of Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar.
So why grow them yourself?
Did you or do you still pick capers from a dish if they’ve turned up in something you’ve ordered?
No surprises really, because, we’ve been used to a much inferior quality that’s not been packed in the right medium.
What you really should have is a plumper olive-green bud that adds a lot of flavour to your food.
No? That’s because there aren’t any, so if you want to avoid the high toxic residues that some imported capers carry, you need to grow your own.
Plus because you’ve grown them and pickled them soon after, the flavour of your capers will be more intense and firmer than the imported kind.
Did you know that Australian Capers are grown with minimal water on the dry rocky slopes of the River Murray?
In fact they’re grown commercially in both South Australia and Western Victoria.
Strictly speaking capers don’t belong in vegetable heroes because they’re neither a fruit or a vegetable.
So what are Capers?capers are the unopened flower bud and you might be surprised to learn that they’ve been used in cooking for over 5000 years!
The bush itself only grows to a metre, and it’s a pretty tough plant needing no extra water after it’s established.
Apparently they’re as dry tolerant as Eucalypts and Wattle trees because like gum trees and wattles, capers have a deep tap root that can search for water as well as a surface root system that picks up the morning dew.
Growing capers.Well drained soil is the best kind for this bush and adding good compost and lime to the soil will also help the caper bush along.
Although capers love hot temperatures, frost is no problem during the active growing season.
|Caper bush flowers|
But if you want to use them in cooking, capers need to be picked when the bud is still tight.
You’ll get buds every couple of weeks during the warmest months.
That’s not all that you can use from the caper bush.
If the flower opens, leave it on the bush so it can grow the oblong shaped berries that contain quite a few seeds.
These berries can also be pickled.
How do you pickle your capers?It’s pretty easy really.
Traditionally the caperberry is pickled by soaking in salt water for a day, then washing the salt off and storing the berries in white wine vinegar.
Another method to pickle your capers is to add coarse salt to the picked capers (40% of the weight of the capers) and stir occasionally for about 10-12 days, when the liquid that forms on the bottom is drained off.
Add salt again (half the original amount) for another 10 days or so.
Then the capers are ready to use, just wash off the salt, or stored in dry salt. They can be made ready for use by soaking in a bowl of water to remove the salt.
Gourmet delights with capers.Scatter a small handful into any fish dishes
Sprinkle into a potato, green or tomato salad
Add when you make your favourite pasta sauce.
Blend with butter and dab on crusty bread, grilled meat or vegetables
Why are they good for you?Being flower buds, capers are in fact very low in calories, 23 calories per 100 g.
Capers are one of the plant sources high in anti-oxidants.
The spicy buds have healthy levels of vitamins A, K, niacin, and riboflavin.
Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol.
Capers also have minerals like calcium, iron, and copper in them.
DESIGN ELEMENTSwith landscape designer Louise McDaid
Where Oxlips and the nodding Violet grows;
With sweet Musk-Roses and with Eglantine
Ann Hathaway's garden-Stratford On Avon, England
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Caring for your plants
Correas have 4 petals fused together in a pendulous bell tube, with colours ranging from yellow, red, green or combinations but also has white flowering forms.