It’s a busy time of year for those of us with a strong ‘Inner Squirrel’. The last of our peaches have been picked, many given away, eaten, some cooked & frozen for the Winter, & some made (hopefully) into Peach Parfait Wine.Which we anticipate being a Rose Dessert Wine at some stage in the future. Of course there is a long way between the process & the imbibing & it can be a perilous journey! I’ll put the recipe & some pics in the Winemaking section.

Meanwhile the next onslaught is walnuts, & I am just as obsessive about gathering & hoarding those. Didgit the dog is a great help, merrily crunching or insisting that I throw the useless black nuts for her to chase. At the moment I am laying the nuts to dry on sheets of old frost cloth, in the garden caravan. When that is full I shall have to get myself organised & tidy the greenhouse so I can fill the benches. Once they are dried we store them in onion sacks until needed. We only crack enough to fill a jar or so at a time, or in a rush when in the middle of making bread or biscuits, & we realise the jar is empty. After the Walnuts come Feijoas, & then the pressure is off. No I lie, I have just been out playing ball with the dogs & realised that the Chestnuts are just starting to drop. The edible ones are the Sweet Chestnuts which are incredibly prickly, Horse Chestnuts (Conkers) are more like spiky helmets, the conkers are a beautiful rich brown, with swirls & lines on them, not edible but do have some medicinal uses, mainly in a tincture to treat varicose veins.

  

In the vege garden the Brassica that we planted some weeks ago, under netting, have thrived & look very promising. The Fennel plants are bulbing up nicely & the Leeks are plumping up, so our plans for Winter veges are on track. We have started weeding & clearing debris from various parts of the garden, as things finish up. We’ve plonked the mobile compost heap in the middle & heap piles of weeds & sheep poo into it. Luckily over a couple of days it compacts & we can fit more in. We’ve just been given two tiers of a worm farm & have started some tiger & red worms in it. It seems there is a bit of trial & error involved in keeping it going, so hopefully our new friends will thrive.

 

I cut back the Basil plants the other day, & experimented making Basil Oil. It has worked really well, & if you want to make your own it’s very simple, & also a great way to use up the flower heads. It needs no extra care to keep fresh & I think it will be brilliant for cooking with & adding to salad dressings, especially Tomato salads.

Basil Oil: Take all the trimmings & cram into a 1 litre Agee jar, fill with oil (I used Rice Bran, any mild oil will do) to within 2cm of top. This takes a whiles as the oil settles through the compacted leaves. In a smallish saucepan, put something in the bottom to keep the jar out of contact with the pan bottom. I used an Indian mesh ring that usually goes on the gas hob to spread the heat, this sagged a bit in the middle, so I put a tea caddy spoon in the centre. Sit the jar on this gadget & put in cold water up to about 2/3 way up the jar. Simmer on low heat for an hour or so, poking with a chop stick from time to time. Remember to keep the water topped up, using hot water. Strain when done & store in a glass jar or bottle in the dark, ready for creating amazing taste sensations.

 

Next experiment is Chilli Oil, using the same method, I shall report back later.

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