March Newsletter

Read the headlines below and read the whole newsletter here.
Market stall site change
The whole Cygnet market will be outside for March! The Town Hall will be totally surrounded with stalls, front, back and both sides. I need such a big space that I am going to be out the back, next to the Lovett Gallery entrance. This means I can park right at my stall, which will be more wonderful than you can imagine!

Please come and see me and please tell your friends!

Hugh returns to the Cygnet Market
Some of you will know about the endless difficulties Hugh has had working in the very unprofessional environment of the bakery kitchen. The result is that he is no longer working there. Consequently he is able to return to the Cygnet Market this Sunday and bring you all of his masterpieces again. I am not sure where his stall will be but seek and ye shall find!

New Olive Oil
The olive crop at Patlins (and much of SA) last year did not produce as much oil as usual and they have run out BUT I have bought a beautiful oil from Mt. Zero Olives in Victoria, to tide us over to the next season. Frantoio is one of the best and much sought after. 

Pip Magazine Returns for 2017
Almost everyone here who lives in a house, grows some food, has a few chooks, or maybe has an acre or two to be put to good use. Learning how best to design your space for maximum ease of use, for maximum efficiency, maximum beauty, least harm to your environment and least stress is not always easy.

Pip is the magazine of Australian Permaculture and each issue covers a range of topics and ideas from near and far, to help people understand and incorporate practical systems into their everyday lives.

It is the only magazine I sell because I think it is the best one for us here in Tasmania. Issue 7 has just arrived. Check it out at the market on Sunday.

March Sourdough & Cultured Butter Workshop $55
I will be having my first sourdough and cultured butter workshop for 2017 later in March. Check the dates and make bookings by adding your EMAIL (not your name) here. If you don’t put your email you have not booked, even if I know you!!

You will find more information about these workshops on my website here.

Thanks for the Wine Bottles but please stop!
I rely on my wonderful customers to provide me with wine bottles, which I sterilise and fill with the olive oils and apple cider vinegar I sell. You have been most generous and I now have quite a few. I will let you know when I need more but for now I have enough, thanks.

Square eftpos
The Garden Shed and Pantry now has credit card, debit card, chip and contactless payment facilities! Square is a simple and cheap system suited to every form of transaction. It may be cheap but it is not free, so I would still prefer cash but no longer will there be any inconvenience if you do not have enough cash with you! 

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This is just the headlines. Read the whole newsletter here.

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Seasons in a Wholefoods Shop?

Everyone knows that tomatoes are a summer thing and cauliflower is a winter thing but most people are not familiar with the seasons for wheat or almonds or lentils or dried apricots. You may drive through the countryside in winter and see enormous green paddocks then you may drive the same roads in early summer and see the harvesters working in paddocks of crisp brown and still not put two and two together to understand what this means for your pantry. Well let me tell you…..

wheat-barley-oats-rye

Glutenous Grains look like grasses (and are grasses) when they are growing. These include wheat, barley, rye, oats and others such as spelt, khorasan and Egyptian Gold. In Australia these are generally sown by the farmers in autumn as the rains begin so they grow through winter, start producing seeds in spring and are dry enough to harvest in early summer or later in colder areas. They are then collected, winnowed (ie have all the chaff and any bits of dirt blown out so that only the seeds are left), graded (ie tested for protein levels, moisture levels, size etc), then trucked to silos to await shipping to mills or overseas.

I get most of these grains from Four Leaf, who are organic farmers and millers north of Adelaide in SA. I do get Tasmanian grown spelt and sometimes oats, when I can. Now and again the previous year’s grain is sold out before the next harvest is done. This happens late spring and into summer, depending on the weather.

If you shop in supermarkets you won’t know when or where the grain was grown, harvested or milled and this gives the illusion of grains (and flours) not being seasonal but grains begin to go rancid the moment the grain is broken, so old flour, rolled oats and others are, in my opinion, dangerous to our health as rancidity is a known cause of cancer. Moreover, rancidity cannot easily be detected in flour, by humans so buyer beware!

millet-quinoa-etc

Seeds…. sunflower, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and more, are grown in various parts of the world but organic Australian farmers grow few of them so I often run out between seasons. I refuse to buy any grains, seeds, lentils etc from overseas as the amount of fuel required to ship all these around the world totally negates their organic certification and all this shipping is a major cause of the pickle we are now in, with climate change. My customers must learn to eat seasonally and this includes wholefoods!

beans-lentils-chickpeas

Lentils, chickpeas etc are the dry seeds of annual bushes (like beans or peas you may grow in your garden and let dry off to keep some to plant the next year). Like with such beans or peas, gardeners will know how long it takes for those darn seed pods to be brown and crisp and the seeds inside dry and hard. So it is the same with lentils, chickpeas etc. Harvest can be mid to late summer or even into early autumn some years.

Thus I currently do not have the new season’s lentils or chick peas in stock and the previous season’s have sold out. This is the life of a small, organic, Australian wholefoods shopkeeper trying to keep her customers both happy and healthy!

Johnston almonds

Johnston almonds

Nuts come next in the year, ripening in early autumn but then requiring hardening off before the flavours develop and the nut inside the shell becomes hard, instead of soft. Many customers do not want to crack open the shells of almonds, for example, so I have to wait for the farmer to have his nuts cracked and, because he grows the special and delicious Johnston and Somerton almond varieties only, he does not want his batch thrown in with anyone else’s so he has to wait until last at the nut mill! Hence I will not have any almonds until July!! Last year there was a total crop failure due to a hail storm just at flowering time so my customers had no almonds at all.

Thankfully there are a lot of walnuts grown in Tasmania so I never seem to run out of them. I have to get hazelnuts from Victoria or SA from time to time but sometimes I still run out before the next season as I aim to sell organic ones or from farmers I know but who are not certified organic.

kevin-and-cindy-organics-drying-apricots

Kevin and Cindy Organics

Dried fruit is a similar story, as I get organic, sundried apricots, pears and sometimes plums from just one grower because I know of no-one else who uses no chemicals, no preservatives and no electricity! I rang her a few weeks ago to confirm my order and she told me there had been a hail storm in November, which had never happened before, and almost all the apricots were damaged! Oh no, I still don’t know if I will get a supply from her. Fingers crossed!

The apricots should be ready soon, then the plums and lastly the pears, some time in autumn.

rainfed-rice

Rice is usually harvested some time in March or April. The rain fed, organic, bio-dynamic, aromatic rice I buy is from northern NSW. The farmer uses no irrigation; only rainfall. In doing so he does not need dams or pumps or electricity but does rely on nature. He may get a smaller crop if things are not right but so far he has not let me down although once he ran out before the next harvest. We both do our best!

murray-river-organics-in-1970s

Murray River Organics in the 1970’s

I get organic raisins, sultanas and currants from a grower in The Riverland who only grows these grapes….. did you know these are all grape varieties? Sultanas (Sultanina, Thompson Seedless, Kish-mish), Currants (Zante Currant, Carina), Muscat Gordo Blanco (Muscat of Alexandria), and Waltham Cross (Rosaki, Dattier, Regina, Malaga). The dried fruit of the last two is collectively called raisins in Australia.

Last year their sheds and offices were damaged in floods but, luckily, most of their crops had been harvested and moved to a warehouse in Melbourne. Phew. I didn’t want to have to tell my customers that even more of my products were not available!

pumkin-seeds

The pumpkin used for seeds

Pumpkin seeds take ages! There is only one pumpkin seed grower in Australia, that I know of and they are in Victoria. They are a small, family group who run a fabulous and very ethical business. It is well into autumn and as late as May before the new year’s pumpkin seeds are harvested and dried. So far, so good. Lets hope it stays that way!

Olives are the last, being harvested for oil in about May and pickled at various times from May onwards through winter. Sometimes the olives have more oil, sometimes less. Sometimes the trees have more olives, sometimes less. Sometimes things go awry with the weather and sometimes it is perfect! Pat and Lina keep us all in SA olives and oils for as long as they can but this year I am going to run out as the oil olives were drier than usual and there were less jumbo olives on the trees; a double whammy.

We are lucky indeed that the floods last year came within about 10cms of the spilling over the levvy and did not burst its banks, ruining Pat and Lina’s market garden and olive trees.What a year for all our growers!

Farming is tough. The people I buy from are real people who grow beautiful, organic food which they hope will survive through the months of growth and produce an income for them. As the climate becomes more unstable, their livelihoods are put seriously at risk. Not only that but I am also dependent on them for my income and we are all dependent on them for our food. All these problems happened in 2016. I wonder what will happen in 2017. Whatever happens, you can now understand why wholefoods are seasonal and how, even though they are dry goods, climate and supply and seasons mean so much.

 

Panforte…. the ultimate Italian Christmas cake

Panforte

Pan Forte… the ultimate Italian Christmas cake
Nuts, chocolate, brandy….sounding good already? I think my pan forte is the best and it is mostly organic; being made using all my GaSP ingredients. All my panfortes are naturally gluten free.

Available at the market: Slices to nibble with coffee / halves to take home.

Orders for whole panfortes will be ready to collect on my home shop open days (see above) starting Thursday Dec. 3rd.

$20 and $50 whole (available only by order, via email or in person)
$11 half (limited numbers available at every Cygnet market from Nov. 15th)
$6 slice (available at every Cygnet market from Nov 15th)

Buckwheat; delicious, gluten free and good for everyone

The only ingredients in the entire history of the earth since the big bang that contain gluten are these cereals; wheat, barley, rye, some oats and a few less well-known grains such as khorasan, spelt etc. The history of the human includes a diet almost exclusively gluten free until the beginning of agriculture about 8,000 years ago, when, in The Middle East, people started saving and sowing the seeds of some grasses. We ALL benefit from ensuring our diet contains the broadest range possible of grains, just as our ancestors did. We ALL benefit from removing processed grains of every sort from our diet and replacing them with whole grains, as our ancestors did. In doing that, we need to learn how to cook them, just as our ancestors had to.

Buckwheat is a bush, not a grass and therefore has no gluten. The seeds are small, pretty and pyramid like. It grows well in cool climates with an acid soil and dislikes too much nitrogen. It is native to China and is a good crop for Tasmania. I sell buckwheat grown in northern Tasmania.

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Buckwheat can be used as a whole grain or ground into flour. It has become popular all over the world as peasant food because it is so easy to use. In south west France buckwheat pancakes with Roquefort cheese are a speciality not to be missed! Here is my recipe for quinoa and buckwheat pancakes with hot, buttered walnuts.

Phytic acid in grains, nuts, seeds and beans represents a serious problem in our diets. This problem exists because we have lost touch with our ancestral heritage of food preparation. Some people eat a lot of high-phytate foods like commercial whole wheat bread and all-bran breakfast cereals. But raw or instant are definitely not Nature’s way for grains, nuts, seeds and beans. . . nor are quick cooking or rapid heat processes like extrusion.

Buckwheat and rye are very high in phytase which is the enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid and liberates the phosphorus. This enzyme co-exists in plant foods that contain phytic acid, in varying amounts from very low to very high.

In general, humans do not produce enough phytase to safely consume large quantities of high-phytate foods on a regular basis. However, probiotic lactobacilli, and other species of the endogenous digestive microflora can produce phytase. Thus, humans who have good intestinal flora will have an easier time with foods containing phytic acid. Sprouting also activates phytase, thus reducing phytic acid. The use of sprouted grains will reduce the quantity of phytic acids in animal feed, with no significant reduction of nutritional value.

Soaking grains and flour in an acid medium at very warm temperatures, as in the sourdough process, also activates phytase and reduces or even eliminates phytic acid. Combining a high phytase grain, such as rye or buckwheat, when soaking other grains, nuts legumes can help increase the phytase and thereby decrease the phytates present after soaking.

Here is a wonderful article on phytates, phytase and how to eat grains, nuts and legumes.

Buckwheat pancakes with walnuts

Buckwheat pancakes with walnuts