Fruit · Recipes

It’s some kind of apple (I think)

In my garden I have some fruit trees: plum, apple, fig, peach, lemon and marmelo. Yup, the fruit is called mar-mel-oh. I had never heard of it before moving to Brazil and I do not believe that it is a fruit you find in the USA. I know that they have it in Portugal, but other than that I am not sure. Anyway, marmelo is a fruit that looks very much like an apple. It is hard, has a thick yellowish-green skin and smells similar to an apple. It is round and has the same top and bottom indents that an apple has.
Here in Brazil, at one time, marmelo was very popular. There is even a town in the state of Minas Gerais that is called “Marmel√≥polis” specifically named after the marmelo fruit because all of the industry in that town involved the marmelo fruit in some form or another. But, as with all things, the popularity for marmelo soon dwindled and now it is difficult to find the fruit and the jam or sweets made from it.

But, enter the farmer. Well kind of. I’m embarrassed to say that I actually didn’t pay any attention to my marmelo trees until just this past week. Four years of living right next to them, and I never once harvested or even tried the fruit. Instead I would actually throw the fruits to my pigs who devoured them within seconds.

I never really bothered with them because the fruit was hard, and quite honestly, looked completely unappealing.

Sometime ago though, my mother-in-law bought some marmelo sweets called “marmelada”. This is a hard jelly like log of cooked marmelo and sugar. You eat it by cutting into slices and either eating on its own or with white or fresh cheese. It is absolutely delicious. The marmelada has a slightly tangy flavor, almost like a crabapple jam. Needless to say I enjoyed the marmelada and my husband and I consumed it in a very short time.

Still, it took me another year to actually make this at home. This year my marmelo trees looked beautiful and the fruits had not been consumed by bugs or birds. So, I finally took the plunge and made my own marmelada. It turned out perfect. A beautiful blend of tangy and sweet. It set amazingly well and was a joy to slice through.

So, how do you make this stuff? Simple.

Peel and core the marmelos. Cut into small pieces and place in a pan. Add 3/4 of the weight of the peeled and cored marmelos in white sugar (that is to say, if you have 1.2kg of marmelo you need to add 900g of white sugar). Add approximately 150ml of water and bring the mixture to a boil. With the lid on, boil for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. With an immersion blender, blend the marmelos. When finished blending allow to boil for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Pour mixture into heat proof containers top with parchment paper and allow to cool.

Farming

Who wants some radish?

We like radish. We like a lot of radish. Five hundred kilos worth. That’s about a good amount for us. But wait…..it’s not all for us, you must be crazy if you think I can consume that amount of radish. You guessed it, it’s all to be sold to an organic distribution company some 36km from our farm.

Why did we begin growing radish you might wonder. Well, it’s a simple crop and it’s fast. About 40 days from seed to harvest for us. What do we need to do to grow radish? Well, we form the bed with the tractor, spread compost by hand and come with a simple hand seeder. The beds are approximately 1 meter in width and we seed six lines of radish. Once seeded we wait. There is no weeding necessary as the radish is ready to harvest after 40 days.

Harvesting is the real work when it comes to radish. In order to be able to sell our radish we need to cut off the leaves and the root tail…that’s a lot of work. Five hundred kilos means a lot of individual radishes. So how do we do it? Well, we pull the radish from the bed and put, uncleaned, into boxes. Once all the radishes have been pulled from the ground we get to cleaning. We grab a bunch of uncleaned radishs from the boxes and with a pair of scissors we cut off the tail and, holding over an empty box, we cut the leaves and drop the clean radishes into the box. It sounds simple enough, and it is, but it takes time.

We are constantly trying to improve our radish harvest and looking for new ways to decrease on the cleaning time. Any suggestions? How do you clean your radishes?

Recipes

A Vegetables Lovers Pie

I love to cook and bake. Baking is not so much my strong point, but I haven’t given up yet, and with practice I am slowly, but surely, getting better. Recipes that use a ton of vegetables are often my favorite, and a few weeks ago I came across the perfect recipe for anyone who loves vegetables, and more importantly, roasted vegetables.

In January I bought two cookbooks from Yotam Ottolenghi and one of them, Plenty, is chock full of amazing vegetable recipes. Tucked into these delightful book was a vegetable-slash-quiche pie. The perfect combination for us as we love quiche, and what better than to throw in as many vegetables as possible.

This pie was a huge success! And, most importantly, it is super adaptable. My first attempt I tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible. On my second attempt I already made adaptations. And I am already imaging my third attempt.

Here are some simple step-by-step instructions.

Step One – make a simple pie crust. Line a baking dish and precook in the oven until golden brown.

Step Two – Roast your vegetables. For this you can essentially use any combination of vegetables, but the recipe calls for a combination of red pepper, zuchini, sweet potato and eggplant.

To roast vegetables, first start with the peppers. Roast them whole.

While the peppers are roasting on the top shelf of the oven roast the eggplant on the second shelf. The eggplant should be cubed, and seasoned with oil, salt and pepper.

After 12 minutes add the cubed sweet potato to the eggplant and allow to roast for an additional 20 minutes or until done.

Remove the pepper once blackened on all sides. Allow to cool and then remove skin and tear into shreds.

Allow all vegetables to cool.

Step Three – Caramalize onions. Use approximately one to two onions and caramalize.

Step Four – Egg and cream mix. Using approximately 240 grams of eggs and 200 grams of cream, whisk together and season with salt.

Step Five – Assemble the pie. In the pre-baked pastry add the roasted vegetables and the caramalized onions. Scatter with feta cheese, goat cheese or any cheese of your preference. Or, use no cheese!

Top the pie with some sliced tomatoes.

And, lastly add the egg mix until it reaches the top of the pastry.

Step Six – Bake. Bake in the oven at 200C/400F for approximately 40 minute or until baked and golden brown on top.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Farming

Tomatoes, Tomatoes and more Tomatoes

Since mid-January we have been harvesting tomatoes. We put two greenhouses into tomatoes (10 lines of 50 meters) and they came beautifully. Unfortunately, January was very cold and we only began harvesting towards the end of the month. But, we still managed to get a good crop. Because of the clouds and cold in January our tomatoes were a little bit smaller than last year, but they were just as delicious.

I haven’t finished adding all of our harvest numbers but it is looking like we got approximately 5 tons of tomatoes this year. Not ideal, but nothing to complain about either.

Although we are not keen on saving our own seed as we tend to lean towards using hybrid seeds, we decided to keep some this year. We’ll do a test next year to see how they come. (I did keep pepper seeds aswell, so fingers crossed they do well next year).