Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pressing Matters

Apple season is upon us, and if, over the coming weeks, you have spare apples and would like them pressed, organic farmers John and Lesley are happy to offer the use of their handsome apple cider press (circa 1870). That's John in the photo with Rachel visiting from Nashville, USA, turning the gears and mashing the apples by hand. "It can be driven by a motor," says John, "but we find two people working on it can make about 2.5 litres an hour (with clean-up) and that's fast enough for us." Last year they used it to make Apple Cider Vinegar using the golden delicious apples grown on their Lilydale farm. This year, they're happy to press your apples - for a share of the juice of course.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Too Darn Hot?

These habanero chillis came from Steve in Beaconsfield who says they rate 10 on the hot chilli scale. "They're lively," he added. And he meant it. They are the black belt of chillis - hot AND flavorsome - and a surprising 64 times hotter than their slow lane cousin, the more conservative Jalapeno. Steve says if you ate one whole it would blow your head off - but only for seven minutes. After that, the hotness passes. He suggests that just one of these tiny taste grenades makes four to five family meals. We've given you two in this week's hilbarn box.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweet Pea Seeds

We harvested a surfeit of sweet pea seeds from the hilbarn garden this summer, and we'd like to share them with you. Their old-fashioned fragrance and purple and pink blossom make for a cheerful posy. When we first purchased them as a tiny packet of seeds from an old timer at the Longford flower show, we were told to plant them on St Patrick's Day. We've done this for the past five years: enjoyed their potent posi-ness and harvested their seeds for the following season - which have never let us down. So, with our amazing surplus, if you're a new customer and want to sign up to hilbarn fresh produce boxes, we'll send you a welcome packet of seeds in the post. Remember to plant them around March 17th.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Colours of Summer

As we go about and count the last of our summer days, her jewel colours can't help but inspire us: the rich yellow of our golden drop plums, the vibrant green of Alan's oak leaf and salanova lettuces collected for this week's hilbarn boxes; the luscious red of Colin and Jenny's tomatoes, filling a pan to make passata; and the dusty amethyst of drying poppies against a blue-sky backdrop in Wesley Vale. Treasure these colours - you won't see them again until next summer.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Green Apples & Salt

When we collected the first green apples of the season from Millers in Hillwood, Mikon, who packed the boxes and comes from the Philippines, told us how she's always eaten Gravensteins with salt. Maybe they're an acquired taste, green apples with salt? Either way, it's great to have the first of the new season's apples in this week's hilbarn boxes. And if you don't like their tart taste, you can always use them as cookers. Or use sugar.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Savoy Joy

We travelled to the foothills of Mt Roland this morning to collect Laurie and Brett Connors' freshly harvested Savoy cabbage for this week's hilbarn boxes. Their wonderfully wrinkled layers of leaves looked a picture in the wooden pallet as we loaded them one by one into our van. Laurie had left the ticket for what we owed under a farm rock on one side, but was there to meet us anyway with a cheerful face, plucky stories, and the firmest, large-handed handshake we've ever met.