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Apple update

7 Jan

My second Tropical Anna apple

I posted recently about my first apple. It was sweet and tasty, but clearly not without its flaws.

I picked the second apple on December 29th. It was huge – almost didn’t fit in my hand. It had a few minor blemishes, but was otherwise fine.

I cut it open through the major spot, and sure enough, there was a little tiny grub – easily cut out. I’m no expert on these things – is this a fruit fly?

The rest of the apple (like the first one) was wonderfully sweet.  Now I’m hoping I get some flowers on the Pink Lady and Granny Smith tree, but nothing so far, and I think it’s getting a little late in the season to expect that.

Yummy second apple

Two sides to every story

29 Dec

My First Tropical Anna Apple

I grew my first apple – it is a Tropical Anna, and here in Sydney town it was ripe on Christmas Eve.

That’s for anyone else desperately trying to work out ripening times by searching Google like I was. There is actually another apple on the tree – possibly the largest apple I have ever seen- and it’s probably still a few days away.

This is the first year for the tree – I planted it about 12 months ago. It’s pollinating partner, the Tropical Golden Dorset was a bit younger, and it failed to fruit this year.

I ate this lovely specimen straight after picking, and it was so sweet – still slightly warm from the sunlight, and I can’t remember ever eating a better one.

Bug damage to the Tropical Anna

Unfortunately there is another side to this story, and it ain’t attractive. Thankfully it was easily cut away, and didn’t seem to affect the taste of the remaining flesh.

The apple still on the tree looks like it has succumbed to the same fate – only slightly, and only in the last couple of days. I suspect fruit fly, but I have no idea what I’m looking for.

I thought I’d refrain from preventing anything pest-wise this year, just to see what I’m dealing with for future, so now I know that the fruit is susceptible when close to ripe, and I’ll probably need to bag it next year.

A Seasonal Christmas – Blueberry Shortbread

21 Dec

Being half American, many of my traditional family Christmas recipes are cold weather foods. There are a few exceptions (like my Mum’s famous pasta salad), but I am just starting to harvest an increasing number of summer fruit and veggies with no way of using them in our Christmas festivities.

So today I thought I’d start adapting some traditional recipes to incorporate Australian seasonal ingredients.

My two blueberry bushes are in their first year. I know you aren’t supposed to let them fruit so early, but I did. We’ve been picking fruit here and there for several weeks, but they just keep coming. The recent cold snap has even fooled them into flowering again!

 

I thought I might pick the remaining ripe fruit and use them in some shortbread.

I used the normal recipe that I use each year, adapted it slightly for the ingredients I had on hand, and added some blueberries.

 

Blueberry Shortbread

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 handful of blueberries -large ones quartered, medium halved, small ones whole.
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch/flour (you can use cornflour)
  • 1 cup pure icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160 degrees

Beat butter until light and fluffy, then slowly add the sifted icing sugar until combined.

Slowly add the remaining dry ingredients

Turn out onto a bench and incorporate the blueberries, keading gently – just enough to bring the dough together.

Unbaked shortbread dough, pressed into pan

Line a slice tray with baking paper, place mixture in the tray until and spread out evenly.

Poke the mixture decoratively with a fork or toothpick and sprinkle some sugar over the top.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes until lightly browned.

The results were really good – the flavour is lovely and complements the shortbread well. I might be tempted to add a little lemon zest next time too.

I might try to continue this to use more freshly-grown produce unconventionally in my Christmas recipes. Anyone want to join me?

Blueberry shortbread