Summer Fizz

With the warm weather thoughts are turning to cooling summer drinks. So far TB has brewed some Apple with a mild fizz – the first batch of which was pleasant and the second which had fizz but seemed to have gone off. A brew of traditional ginger beer and a more exploratory brew of chicory root are also in production. You can blame the latter on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall whose brewing exploits on his most recent River Cottage series have proved inspirational. As we had some very large chicory roots it seemed like a good idea to try a brew of them (on the left of the photo). The first taste prior to fermentation seems more promising than scary. However we will have to wait and see what the final outcome is as the brew is still ticking over.

At a friend’s place yesterday for a BBQ dinner we tried her ginger beer. Made with a traditional ginger beer plant, she had first thought that it hadn’t worked as no fizz seemed to develop. However a check two weeks later revealed some activity. In all it turned out to be a very pleasant ‘dry’ drink.

Tonight we tried our first taste of Warrigal Greens or Tetragon (Tetragonia tetragonoides) as it is called in our recipe book Tukka: Real Australian Food, by Jean-Paul Bruneau (Angus & Robertson, 1996). This is one of only two native bush tucker foods we grow at our place, the other being Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia). I had nursed three very small Warrigal Green seedlings through the winter, tucked in a pot and placed under my garden seat to avoid the worst of the frost. I succeeded until I left them out one early spring evening when we had a frost. Two succumbed and one survived. I transplanted the last seedling into one of the garden beds in late October and since then it has galloped away. In fact it grew so rapidly that it started to over-shadow the edamame planted next to it. So we cut the plant back and transferred the Warrigal Greens to a space where it could spread out a bit more.

Bruneau recounts that Warrigal Greens wasn’t a food that was used much by Aboriginal people, possibly because of the high salt content of the leaves. When Captain Cook visited New Zealand in 1769 the leaves were collected and eaten. Subsequently Banks and Solander recognised the same plant in Sting-rays Harbour (later called Botany Bay). I made a side dish of Creamed Tetragon. You give the leaves a quick blanch in boiling water. Fry off some onions and garlic (but do not brown them) in butter and pepper, add the leaves cook for two minutes then add sour cream and cook another two minutes. It made a tasty side dish with our sausages, however the sour cream somewhat overwhelmed the whole dish so next time I might leave it out. Bruneau describes the taste as more green bean than spinach but I couldn’t form an opinion from that dish. It certainly tasted good enough for me to keep on with some of the other recipes he provides including a Tetragon pesto and a macadamia ,bunya nut and Tetragon pesto.

Tomato update
I was pleased to see that both the Mortgage Lifter and the Roma are now bearing fruit. We gave one of our friends some Siberian seedlings and they are also in fruit, just out in the normal garden bed. Don’t forget to give your tomatoes a side dressing of potash to encourage flowering. Lime should have been added to your bed as part of the treatment to combat blossom end rot. Otherwise add some calcium. Leslie Land suggests crushing up your egg shells and adding them to the soil. This is a nice idea, but unless you go through a lot more eggs than we do in a week your tomatoes will be dead and gone before you have enough for several plants.


2 thoughts on “Summer Fizz

  1. Your tip on potash for tomatoes is useful – must encourage my single Roma plant as much as possible.Have been experimenting with shoreing up the soil around the leeks with cut of plastic bottles – am a bit concerned that they may raise the temperature of the soil too much, but will see how it goes.

  2. Hi SB the cut off bottles only need to stay on long enough to let the plants get moving without being mown down by slugs, snails and slaters. Once they are bigger you just take them away.I don’t expect raised soil temperature would be too much of a problem unless the plants have dried out. Let’s face it the other possible problem of too much moisture causing rotting seems a pretty distant prospect in Canberra at present!

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