Condiments

A season for change

An autumn update from this little jam maker including:

  • A trashy confession
  • Surplus tips
  • Some extra Zin opening dates
  • News of Zin House from July
  • Introducing The Pavilion 

 

I hate waste. Not a vague distaste for it but a full, bordering on obsessional, inability to throw things out. I’m out and proud about our virtually zero waste kitchen but I’m embarrassed to admit that I have gradually filled all our sheds with things that ‘will be really useful one day’.

I even have boxes and boxes of clothes whose beautiful no longer worn fabrics are destined to be transformed into scarves or cushion covers one day in the never never.

If I applied the current trend of holding an item to see if it brought me joy before deciding to keep or discard I would still find a reason everything would be useful and bring me joy in some altered form.

So I’m trying to use the little ‘spare’ time I currently have to deal with the head space my hoarding habit is taking up in addition to every piece of spare physical space.

But I keep getting distracted by the need not to waste anything the garden is producing.

Unlike the boxes of still can’t discard clothes, the cool-room collection wont wait. I’m working through a queue of stone fruits, figs, pears, tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers while daily an encroaching ripening of quinces, crab apples, persimmons and olives threaten my attention.

Bottling, jamming, freezing, pickling and drying have been my summer food hoarders tools.

When the sheer volume is overwhelming I give myself a daily schedule to make it seem achievable. When all else fails I cook with a syrup of sugar or vinegar and place in 20kg buckets in the cool room until I can face it.

Ironically all this work now will be an incredible free ride on big winter prep days. Pickled summer vegetables, punchy tomato sauces, fig and peach pastes, jams and pickles of all sorts will provide a touch of magic when we reopen Zin in the heart of winter.

Maybe I can deal with the sheds then…

Roast fruit sauce

Sprinkling a tray full of cut fruit with honey or sugar and roasting it is my top tip to keep up. Pop the fruit and all its gooey juices into the freezer for when life is not so sunny and bountiful. Instant pie or crumble filling, ice-cream topper or muffin mix.

Roast tomato sauce

One minute you’re sick of finding things to do with fresh tomatoes, the next you’re back guiltily buying supermarket pasta sauces. This helps the lag time between the two.

The quantities are totally flexible – just follow the basic principles.

In a large roasting dish combine:

5kg roughly chopped ripe tomatoes 

1 kg sliced onions

1 whole head of garlic cloves ( I don’t even peel them)

a large handful of fresh herbs (especially thyme & oregano)

250mls good quality olive oil

Salt & coarse black pepper

Cook uncovered in a slow oven for about an hour or until the tomatoes have broken down and everything is looking delicious and saucy. Freeze what you cant use this week.

Extra days of living in Zin

Many of you have been joining us for Twilight Tapas on Friday nights at Lowe and last Saturday of the month pop up dinners at Zin. So many of you in fact that we will run Tapas throughout April as well. 

We’re also open on the following dates with our feasting menu (includes wine and is $150)

Saturday March 30, dinner

Saturday April 6, dinner

Saturday April 20, lunch

Sunday April 21, lunch

Saturday April 27, dinner

Saturday May 11 Ninja @ Tinja (bookings via Lowe Wines)

Saturday May 25, dinner

Saturday June 8, dinner

Sunday June 9, dinner

Saturday June 29, dinner.

There will be considerable changes when we reopen in July, but more about that later in the month at which stage we will also reopen for July onward bookings.

Introducing The Pavilion

Sam Payne has drawn a couple of ‘artists impressions’ of our new project. The Pavilion is a marquee that will sit between Lowe & Zin House and provide a wide range of uses in addition to the obvious one of utilising our views, food and wine for weddings. More updates to come soon.

Lowe Hanging Fruit

January is supposed to start with promises to self on issues of great importance, right? Zin should be getting Zen.

On a farm when everything decides to ripen at once the year starts with the loud demands of rapidly ripening fruit. This is overlaid with the inherited (or absorbed) psychological subtext that ‘waste is sin’. Days start from half sleep mental notes of picking orders, processing possibilities and storage to sale solutions.

plums

So some plan to drink less (really not helpful to our business) eat less (really bad idea) exercise more (make bread to avoid tuck-shop arms). If you really want to be helpful,  I need you to eat more jam, relish and pie.

When someone skinny, fit and pious arches a brow when you reach for another slice/piece/glass – tell them you’re just doing your bit to help a farmer.

apricot crostata

I don’t know (or choose not to know) anyone who doesn’t like the gift of a jar of homemade jam – it’s like a hug in a jar. If you grow or receive the gift of excess fruit these are my top tips for quick results.

bb jam

Jam

2 kg fruit
2 kg sugar
1 or 2 lemons

Boil rapidly for ten minutes or until a little cooled in a saucer sets.
Remove lemon, pour into hot sterilised jar and lid immediately.

That, is it. These tips may help:

If you are using low pectin fruit like strawberries add some jam setter (pectin) or high pectin fruit like apple grated through.

Add a smattering of less ripe fruit to aid setting.

NEVER try to cook more than 2kg at a time.

Add a knob of butter to rid a foamy top

Use the largest pot you can with a heavy bottom (I mean the pot) Smaller pot, smaller batch.

Fruit with stones that are not free may be easier cook and then remove the stone, most will float to the surface. Don’t worry about the odd stone.

If you are too busy for jam, relish or pie right now and the fruit looks like it might crawl off the bench if you leave it one more day, roast fruit with a little butter and sugar and pop in the fridge or freezer. This should only take a few minutes and it will now keep to make some pies or top ice-cream or as a base for a more exotic chilli jam/relish.

Would you like guilt with that?

Some people feel guilty about things they have or haven’t done in life – the big stuff.

Me, I feel racked when I realise the last of the peaches fell to ground, there were figs I missed spotting or the birds beat me to a particularly succulent bunch of grapes.

My confession – I adore filling jars, and everything that goes with preserved food – safe from decay, wildlife or neglect. Squirreling.

Golden Hornet crab apples

This weeks race against the sin that is waste (Aunty Isabel lived through the war and “Waste is Sin” was one of her favourite sayings) has had me drying figs, jellying crabapples,  jamming plums, relishing tomatoes and roasting peaches.

My Grandmother (and Aunty Isabel) would have been horrified at the use of such perfect fruit as these peaches in crostata, pies were a place for less than perfect fruit.

I roast fruit in a single layer sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter, cooking in a moderately hot oven until just bursting.

peaches

The restaurant menu also saw hour old kipflers simply dressed with olive oil, fresh mint, basil and parsley, a little seeded red chilli and salt. Yum with fresh curd cheese and black olive tapenade.

A salad of rocket, endive and sorrel had tiny barely ripe port grapes scattered through – the effect like balls of vejuice bursting in the mouth.

grape and tomato

A rainbow of colours in the heritage tomatoes not only looks pretty but presents a spectrum of flavour, every variety having different levels of sweetness and acidity.

Spinach went into a savoury crostata with three types of cheese and eggs collected that day.

cheese crostata

Seasonal cooking begs for restraint. Kind of ironic when nothing else is showing any.

Dried Figs

Make a syrup by boiling 1 litre of water (or wine) with 1 kg of sugar.

Pop the whole figs (stalk intact) in this syrup and simmer very gently for about an hour.

Remove from the syrup and lay figs, allowing a little space, on trays. Place in the sun to dry for three days or until dried to your liking.

Keep the syrup and reuse for this purpose or reduce and pour over ice-cream.