Throughout history and across many cultures, humans have always found ways to preserve food. As we farewell summer and her generous abundance, the Pip team recalls some old-fashioned family favourites.Every family has one or two recipes that have been prepared, eaten and handed down through generations. Recipes that evoke memories of family gatherings, holidays and special occasions, harbouring a strong emotional connection through both their taste and aroma. However, the tradition of handing down preserving recipes between generations is probably as much about practicalities as it is about cultural and familial considerations, because families engaged in food preservation can save money, reduce waste and increase the likelihood of having a stable food supply throughout the year.Whether critical to surviving harsh winters, to provide nutrition during long voyages or simply to ensure no food ever went to waste, preserving gave the ability to consume certain produce out of season and played a vital role in human survival throughout time.
Commonly associated with savoury dishes, spices can add a warmth and complexity to your sweet desserts – a tasty way to use up the last of your summer produce.In sweet cookery, spice can provide a delicate fragrance, hard to put your finger on but one that gives backbone to a dish. It can balance tartness and tone down things that are overly sweet.Flavours can be enhanced by a thoughtful addition from the spice cupboard, making chocolate more chocolaty and fruit taste more of itself. Added not in shouts but in whispers, an intrigue of spice deepens allure.You can’t enjoy spices in isolation, they need foods to bounce off, so cooking with them is an art of creating relationships. Like any successful marriage, when paired with the right ingredients they will bring out the best in each other.
Looking every bit a strange creature from the deep, sea urchins are a seafood delicacy. But not only are they good for you and breeding in abundance, they’re playing a significant role in our underwater ecosystems.There are 950 different species of sea urchin found in all parts of the world, of these about 18 are edible. In Australia there are three main sea urchin species harvested for eating; the purple or short-spined sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma), the long-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) and the red sea urchin (H. tuberculata).
With the summer months upon us, now’s the time to look at how to turn the food you have growing in your garden into refreshing cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.Growing cocktail garden you can harvest from your garden is a lot more than growing garnishes. It’s about selecting the right botanicals which will impart a unique flavour and ultimately become a key ingredient and integral part of the cocktail.Whether you’re growing herbs such as common mint, exotic fruits such as African-horned cucumber, or chilli varieties such the Aleppo pepper, every plant has a role to play in both the garden and in the glass.
Underrated and misunderstood, incorporating offal into our diets is highly nutritious and inexpensive way to eat more sustainably.You don’t have to go back very many generations to find a time when organs were the most prized part of an animal to consume. As well as having a far higher nutritional value than the muscle meat we tend to favour today, incorporating what is these days considered waste products into our diets is not only a far more ethical and sustainable way to eat, but it’s nearly always less expensive, too.
Seaweed lives and grows in the nutrient- rich waters of the ocean, where it absorbs important vitamins, minerals and trace elements which are often lacking in food grown in soil.By eating seaweed, we are increasing our vitamin and mineral consumption. The more diverse types of seaweed we eat, the wider the range of nutritional benefits we experience. Different seaweeds contain different nutrients depending on their species and where they are growing.As well as zinc and iodine, some of the goodness found in seaweeds include Vitamin A, B1, B2, C, E, K, calcium, folate, potassium, iron, magnesium and copper. Some seaweeds contain B12 as well.
By learning more ways to cook the lesser- known vegies this season produces, you’re increasing diversity in the kitchen and giving yourself more planting options for your patch.This time of year produces plenty of vegies that often get overlooked for the garden or in the kitchen because we’re not sure how to get the best from them in a meal. But with a little bit of know-how, winter vegies like brussels sprouts, turnips and okra will go from fillers for stews and soups into stars of meals the whole family will love.
Winter can feel like a bleak, barren time in nature and many gardeners find slim pickings from the patch as we wait for our winter vegies to sweeten with the arrival of frosts. A simple solution to filling the nutrient gap is to turn to foraging. Rather than curse those weeds that crop up between pavers and in dormant vegie beds, why not eat the problem instead? Here are three weeds which are as nutritious as they are common, and really versatile in the kitchen too.CHICKWEED (STELLARIA MEDIA)Sometimes referred to as common chickweed, chickenwort, winterweed or starwort, chickweed is a sprawling, bright green plant, with a shallow thin root system, identifiable by its tender pointed oval-shaped leaves which grow on alternating sides of its stems. Those stems feature a ‘mohawk’ of soft, curved hairs along one side and a sturdy central vein which exudes a small amount of clear sap when broken. Odourless flowers with five deeply-lobed white petals grow from short stalks in bunches at the end of stems.
There are so many benefits to making bone broth, and they extend further than the many health benefits. The flavour of homemade broth is far superior to any stock you can buy, it’s considerably less expensive and you’re using more parts of an animal that would otherwise be wasted.As the perfect way to use up bones like chicken or fish carcasses, as well as some tired-looking vegies in the bottom of the crisper, most of us are used to making stock as a versatile base for many dishes. But taking things a step further and creating bone broth, which with a bit more cooking time releases more nutrients from the ingredients, is better for you, your tastebuds and your hip pocket.Bones contain a long list of vitamins and minerals which are released when bones are broken down in the cooking process. This is why time is the important difference between making a flavoursome stock compared to a nutrient-dense broth. Assuming you’re using bones from ethically raised animals, you’ll need to simmer beef or lamb bones for a minimum of 24 hours to create a high-quality bone broth, at least 12 hours for chicken, and somewhere around eight hours to extract the most out of fish bones.
As people look to have more control of food production, a long-held custom for Italian families in Australia has become more mainstream. ‘Tomato day’, ‘sauce day’ or ‘passata day’ – whatever you’d like to call it – is a day for reconnecting with all generations for the annual passata-making tradition.To the uninitiated who have Italian neighbours, the gatherings of young and old in backyards for a day in February or March could seem quite mysterious. There are cauldrons, smoke, old men barking instructions, younger men lugging around crates and bowls filled with blood-red juices, women getting on with work and the scent of freshly picked basil. If the neighbours poked their heads over the fence, they would see rows and rows of clean bottles being filled and lids fastened, all ready for the final step. Fires are stoked and watched carefully before much laughter, food and exhausted merriment signals the main work is finished.This custom of making enough bottles of passata to last until the following year has endured in Australia, even with the passing of the original postwar migrants. When they first came to Australia, these preserving traditions were done through necessity.Each season had its own rhythm for these Italians: summer meant the warm-season vegetables would be pickled; late summer meant sauce making; autumn was wine, mushrooms and green olives; winter was black olives and salami-curing time, while spring was the time to plant all the vegetables that would provide the ingredients for the preserves ahead.