Out & about

Went to Lynda Hallinan’s preserving workshop at Palmer’s last night – she is so calm and confident. She and her mum (her mum mostly while Lynda whizzed stuff up and talked) were making jam on a barbecue and had brought along examples from Lynda’s preserves pantry including pickled onions, damson gin, blackboy peaches and bachelor’s jam, which she described as ‘summer in a jar’. (The link will take you to a site where a single-variety method is described – the recipe on River Cottage is more traditional with its layers of various fruit.)

Some of the Vege Grower’s home-made chutney. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Picked up some great tips too, and I’ll post a link to Lynda’s recipes when they go up on her blog (in the next few days, she says):

  • Pour jam into a plastic container and put it in the freezer where the high sugar content stops it from freezing – just scoop out what you want when you want it
  • If you’re bottling tomatoes, use a bit of citric acid in the mix to counter any fear of botulism taking hold during storage
  • A jam funnel is an essential piece of equipment
  • If you use jam-setting sugar berry jam will take about 5 minutes to make.

She also talked us through the water bath method and the overflow method – for the former there’s no need to stew fruit first as the water bath will lightly “cook” the fruit.

The audience was shocked to learn that none of the tinned apricots we buy in this country actually come from New Zealand. Lynda buys her central Otago apricots fresh and has them shipped up, 20kg at a time.

Earlier this month, the Tauranga Bromeliad Group held its annual open day, always good for picking up some growing tips, as well as plants.

I came away with a couple of plants – a bromeliad and two tillandsias. A few days later I went to the Tauranga Orchid Society auction and came away with a few more bromeliads and tillandsias, plus some orchids.

And last Sunday it was time for the annual volunteer breakfast at Te Puna Quarry Park. Some misting rain had settled the dust but we desperately needed more rain (at the orchid auction it turned out that the Te Puke area had had a deluge the night before – we didn’t get a drop in town).

A lovely cooked breakfast, a birthday cake for Jo Dawkins and a walk to settle all that lot. Perfect.

Aristolochia in flower at Te Puna Quarry Park. The one on the right is the front of the flower, with the back showing on the left. Photo: Sandra Simpson

See an earlier post about Aristolochias or Dutchman’s pipe.

A side view of a flower shows the “bowl” of the pipe that gives the vine its common name. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And best of all we last night got our downpour!