Green Peppercorns…. a story

From The Pantry side of my business I want to stock your pantry with the purest products available; free from chemicals, low in food miles and direct from farmers and makers, wherever possible. This is how I choose to eat and I cannot sell anything that compromises this philosophy.  Since most spices, even today, are grown in their native country of origin, without any fertilisers or other chemicals, I research them carefully and only sell the best quality, freshest spices I can source.

One day at the Cygnet Market a young Frenchman came up to me and asked if, amongst all the beautiful, fresh spices I had displayed on the stall, were there any green peppercorns.
I replied that I did not have them as I only had dried spices, (not the little tins of pickled, fresh, green peppercorns I was familiar with).

He assured me that in France people make a beautiful sauce with ground, dried green peppercorns….. of course I asked him for the recipe and told him I would have the dried green peppercorns he requested, at the next market, if I could find them.

Well, find them I did and make the sauce I did. Typically simple yet unique and delicious, as French foods often are, I have written out the young Frenchman’s recipe below and hope you will try it. He recommended we have it with a grilled piece of meat so I used local chops (killed and hung for 2 weeks at the Cradoc Abattoir).

The Green Peppercorn is the seventh in the GaSP range (the others being Tas Pepperberry, Indonesian Long Pepper, Sichuan Pepper and Black, White and Red Peppercorns).

green peppercorns on the vine

green peppercorns on the vine

Peppercorns, and the ground pepper derived from them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper (dried ripe seeds).  Black pepper is native to south India, and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions.

Green Peppercorns: Green Peppercorns are the unripe berries of a tropical vine, Piper Nigrum. The same berries are processed to make black pepper. Green peppercorns have a milder but more complex and fresh flavor than most other peppercorns, and are commonly found preserved in brine or pickled. Pickled green peppercorns can be sliced or chopped, or eaten whole (pickled). You might not try that with black pepper, but the green peppercorns have a much suppressed pepper flavor. In their various formats green peppercorns are popular in French, Thai, and Western European cuisines. Because they are perishable, green peppercorns are usually freeze dried, or preserved in brine or pickled. I only sell them dried.

green pepperberries

green pepperberries

Green peppercorns, in addition to being a culinary treat, have numerous health benefits. They are good for the digestive tract, reducing gas while increasing hydrochloric acid in the stomach which aid with digestion and helps reduce several types of stomach distress. They also help fight bacterial growth in the intestines. In addition, green peppercorns are high in iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants. The skin of the peppercorn is helpful in breaking down fat cells, so eating green peppercorns can even help you lose weight. A chemical found in pepper, piperine, may have some use in helping other chemicals work in the body, and it may have anti-cancer properties as well. In all, green peppercorns are a healthy and tasty condiment, and well deserving of their place on every table.

Green Peppercorn Facts:
Green Peppercorns are the unripe berries of a tropical vine
Green Peppercorns have a mild, fresh flavor
Green Peppercorns are not as spicy as black
Available freeze dried, pickled, or in brine

(Some info above sourced from http://www.green-peppercorns.com/ and from wikipedia)

French Green Peppercorn Sauce

(recipe from Romain, a local French customer)

Serves 6 (if the cook can resist sampling too much!)

125g butter

125g Four Leaf 85% flour

Make a roux : Dissolve the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour.
Stir until the mixture forms a smooth paste which leaves the sides and base of pan cleanly.
Cook for a minimum of 2 minutes, stirring, to cook out the taste of the flour.

Gradually add 5ooml good stock (I used the bones from the meat from the abattoir to make a stock) until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Reduce the heat and stir in :

1 heaped tsp freshly and finely ground green peppercorns

1/2 tsp salt (to taste and depending on the salt in your stock)

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar (a dash more, to taste, if you like)

Serve as a sauce with meat / or drizzle over roasted, steamed or mashed potatoes

Bon appetit!

green peppercorn sauce

green peppercorn sauce

Get these and other fabulous fresh spices from the Cygnet Market or home shop of the Garden Shed and Pantry 

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Marvelous May Newsletter

Below you will find an excerpt from my May newsletter. To read the whole thing, including some new recipes, please click here. It is fun and fabulous!

Almonds
Everyone, including me, has been waiting for news on Richard’s fantastic Johnston and Somerton almonds, grown in the almond district, Willunga, south of Adelaide. I spoke to Richard on Tuesday. He told me there was a fabulous crop this year and he will be sending them sometime in June! Yippee!

swap crop logo

Introducing Crop Swap
Recently I came across an Australia and NZ group of people as keen as I am to share garden produce and, in fact, anything edible or related to food. So, I joined the group and made us a sub-group and website Crop Swap Cygnet and Surrounds. There are several others in Tasmania too. Please join the Crop Swap Cygnet and Surrounds facebook page for updates etc. If you would like to help me make this work, please contact me asap. I am really keen to get started! No money is involved at all. Whether you are a backyard gardener, home cook, forager, seedsaver, cuttings guru, pickle maker or bread baker, you are welcome.

Sundried apricots, pears, plums and peaches
Kevin and Cindy’s fabulous, new season’s organic, sundried fruits were supposed to be arriving this week but the silly freight people have not picked them up….. so it will now be the first June market before they arrive. Oh lalalalala, how do businesses survive that are run so badly? 

Rain-fed rice
The Qld floods inundated the Lismore freight depot but now they are up and running again. I am pleased to say that Slater Farms’ magnificent, fragrant, bio-dynamic, long grain rice did not get flooded and will be at the market, along with rain-fed medium grain rice and rain-fed rice flour too. 

May Sourdough Workshop-full 
I am pleased to say there are no places left for this workshop but I will be running another in late June or early July. Read about my sourdough workshops here.

More than just Permaculture
There are lots of permaculture design certificate courses but our Gumboot Gardeners group is helping to host something broader, deeper and more easily used for your own property. Please read about Julia and Charles’ course below, based on 25 years of teaching all over the world.

Just for a laugh
Here is a little video I made about 10 years ago, of how to easily dig in green manure. For some reason it is not playing as clearly as it used to! Check out the dry stone wall in the first few seconds. I built that, with stone from my yard when we were making terraces. I had to raid a roadside cutting to get a few bits to finish it off. It is a tricky, twisted circle, going above then below where I am standing, as it was on a massive slope!

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! 

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! 

_________________________________________

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

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.

 

March Sourdough and Cultured Butter Workshop

The March workshop date is Friday, March 24th, 7.30pm – 9pm and Sat. March 25th, 8am – 9.30am. You must come to both sessions. $55.

To read about my sourdough workshops, click here.

For bookings of the March workshop click here. To book, add your EMAIL (NOT your name, even if I know you) now.

This is a fun and informative workshop for anyone wanting to make easy, foolproof, nutritious, delicious sourdough bread with fresh, organic, Australian ingredients.

Pine Nut Crusted Orange Cake

orange and pine nut cake

orange and pine nut cake

Ancient Greeks and Romans savoured pine nuts preserved in honey, and legionaires took them to Britain under Roman rule.  This recipe has several flavours of the Mediteranean – pine nuts, oranges and olive oil.  They blend together perfectly to give a subtle taste and wonderful texture.

50g Pine Nuts

150g rapadura sugar

120ml Patlin Gardens Olive Oil

2 eggs, separated

finely grated zest of 1 large orange

120ml of fresh orange juice

200g Four Leaf Organic 85% Flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Put the pine nuts on a baking tray and brown in the oven for 7-8 minutes.  Oil the base of a 20cm springform cake tin, then line the base with baking paper.  Use the additional 1 teaspoon each of sugar and flour to dust the sides of the tin, and shake out any excess.

  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then leave to one side.
  • Whisk the yolks and sugar until well combined and pale, then whisk in the oil, followed by the orange zest and juice.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the egg mixture.
  • Fold in the egg whites and transfer the mixture to the prepared tin.
  • Sprinkle the mixture with the toasted pine nuts and bake for 40-45 minutes until well risen and lightly springy to the touch.
  • Cool until you can touch the tin easily, then remove the cake and transfer it to a wire rack.

This cake is delicious served fresh from the tin on its own or with slices of orange or other fresh stone fruits.

Store it in an airtight container if not eaten straight away.

Enjoy!!

This recipe and 100 others appear in Kew’s Global Kitchen Cookbook.  Kew’s Global Kitchen Cookbook is a celebration of the amazing variety of edible plants.  It brings together 101 delicious recipes using plants from all corners of the globe, along with stories of their history and discovery, richly illustrated with historic botanical art from the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Kew's Global Kitchen Cookbook

Kew’s Global Kitchen Cookbook

Get this and other fabulous cooking and gardening books from the Cygnet Market or The Garden Shed and Pantry.