Bergamots

I do love to make a new discovery and proudly present my citrus discovery for January 2018:

 

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Bergamots,

and what wonderful little gems they are.

Reliably identified as the sour orange hybrid Citrus bergamia Risso,  I discovered them at my organic market this week, imported from Morrocco (this is the only time of year where I am to be found blogging about imported produce!), and I snapped them up purely out of curiosity.

 

And I am so glad I did!

“Grapefruit overtones, a spicy galangal-like punch (which calms down once cooked), as well as orange and lemon nuancing in the background, becoming lingering lime once cooked”.

That is my bergamot sound bite.

And this is what I have done with them so far: a classic soft set marmalade of delectable dimensions 🙂

 

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Midsummer = Walnut Liqueur

It is time:

Midsummer, the Feast of St John, the summer solstice,

call it what you will, it is time to make walnut liqueur…

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Of the many recipes for walnut liqueur, this one leans on the Croation version, known as Orahovac.

… and you will thank me for this come Christmas!

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Images of the finished product courtesy of www.taylorsphotosafaris.co.uk

Walnut Liqueur, Croatian-Style

Green walnuts, unblemished                    12 to 15

Neutrally-flavoured alcohol

such as vodka or a neutral grappa            700 ml

Raw brown sugar                                           250 g

Vanilla pods                                                      2

  1. Sterilise a large preserving jar by filling it with boiling water and leaving to stand for at least 5 minutes before emptying and leaving to cool somewhat.
  2. Rinse the walnuts and then cut in half (or into quarters if they are large).
  3. Place the walnuts in the preserving jar together with the sugar.
  4. Slice open the vanilla pods with a sharp knife, scrape out the seeds and place these and the pods in the jar with the walnuts.
  5. Pour in the alcohol and seal the jar. Give it a good shake and then place in a bright, warm place (e.g. a sunny windowsill) for at least 6 to 8 weeks. The liquid will turn an intense coffee-like brown in this time – give the jar a shake every now and again to make sure the sugar dissolves completely.
  6. After a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks – longer will do no harm either – filter the liqueur through a coffee filter and bottle in clean, sterilised bottles.

Europe’s Traditional Orchard Landscapes – with World Heritage status?

09_02_2013 Meadow-Orchard_in-Waiting  18_05_2013 Die Wiese 03_08_2013 Die Wiese   26_10_2013 Die Wiese

Press Release, Nürtingen, Germany, 2.3.2015

“Europe’s Traditional Orchard Landscapes – a World Heritage Site”

This was the theme of an event attended by some 40 guests on Saturday 28.2.2015 in the “Haus der Familie” in Nürtingen, Germany where Peter Scharfenberger, Nürtingen resident, beekeeper and tree surgeon, had initiated a gathering of scientific, traditional orchard, administrative and cultural experts. Among those who took up his invitation were Jenny Piegsa, traditional orchard coordinator with the Ministry of Rural Affairs and Corinna Schweickardt, fruit-growing consultant with the Esslingen District Office. Also present was renowned fruit expert Professor Walter Hartmann, Ms. Wagner-Jung from the cultural landscape tour guides “Die Obstler”, regional activists from the German Nature Conservation Association NABU, representatives of a number of local councils and also Maria Schropp, the resourceful head of the Württemberg region’s “Schwäbisches Streuobstparadies e.V.” (“Swabian Traditional Orchard Paradise Association”).

Following his thought-provoking introduction Peter Scharfenberger handed over to the evening’s presenter, journalist and longstanding head of the Esslingen Protestant Training Institute, Eckhard Rahlenbeck, to moderate the discussion with the panel of experts.

In addition to familiar practical and business management problems relating to traditional orchards, the prospect of an international traditional orchard world heritage project was also addressed.

Professor Christian Küpfer, a native of Germany’s Baden region and Dean of Studies for Landscape Planning and Nature Conservation at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University, gave clear emphasis to the need for communal management, quality products and tourist access in order to improve the earnings situation in Württemberg’s traditional orchard region as well as the need for attention to be paid to future options and developments in traditional orchards.

Dr. Khaled Siddig, economist and specialist for rural developmental theory and policy at the Universities of Hohenheim and Khartoum, spoke of his biographical link to traditional orchard landscapes and their cultures. His home is the cultural landscape of northern Sudan, a landscape of date palms and social communities. “That is our life!” is his passionate affirmation of this landscape. Dr. Siddig gave eloquent emphasis to the bright prospects for an international cooperative traditional orchard culture project.

Both experts, with their very diverse personal and academic backgrounds, shared an empathy and cautious optimism for a larger, culture-related development project for the traditional orchard landscapes of Europe and beyond.

The specialist audience was an attentive one and subsequently engaged in lively discussion with the experts while top class musical accompaniment by guitarist Michael Nessmann from Stuttgart made this kick-off event a highly successful, entertaining cultural occasion during which the evening’s theme met with a positive reception.

A follow-up event aimed at preparing for the inclusion of Europe’s traditional orchard culture in the German UNESCO Commission’s “Tentative List” is planned for the second half of 2015.

Peter Scharfenberger

Kirchstraße 5

72622 Nürtingen

Germany

Mobile: +491772521002

imkerei.scharfenberger@web.de

English translation by Katherine Taylor https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com (original German version of this press release below)

More on Europe’s traditional orchards as a cultural landscape here: The Traditional Orchard Story

09_02_2013 Winter Work of Art 26_04_2013 Spring P1100736 P1110310

Medienmitteilung

Nürtingen, den 2.3.2015

„Weltkulturerbe Streuobstlandschaften Europas“

Am Samstag, 28.2.2015 fand in Nürtingens Haus der Familie eine mit ca. 40 Gästen gut besuchte Veranstaltung zu diesem Motiv statt. Peter Scharfenberger, Nürtinger Bürger, Imker und Obstbaumpfleger, hatte Experten aus Wissenschaften, Streuobstpraxis, Verwaltungen und Kulturleben zusammen gerufen.

Neben vielen anderen folgten Frau Jenny Piegsa Streuobstkoordinatorin am Ministerium ländlicher Raum und Frau Corinna Schweickardt vom Landratsamt Esslingen/Obstbauberatung, seiner Einladung. Ebenso Herr Professor Dr. Walter Hartmann – weithin anerkannter Obstwissenschaftler, Frau Wagner-Jung von den Kulturlandschaftsführern „Die Obstler“, NABU-Aktivisten aus der Region Stuttgart, verschiedene Nürtinger Gemeinderäte ebenso wie Frau Maria Schropp, die ideenreiche Geschäftsführerin vom württembergischen „Streuobstparadies“.

Nach einem einführenden Impuls-Referat durch Herrn Scharfenberger ging es in das von Herrn Eckhard Rahlenbeck, Journalist und langjähriger Geschäftführer des evangelischen Bildungswerkes im Landkreis Esslingen lebendig moderierte Expertengespräch.

Neben bekannten, praktischen und betriebswirtschaftlichen Streuobstproblemen wurden dabei unter anderem die Aussichten eines länderüberspannenden Streuobst – Weltkulturerbe-Projektes angesprochen.

Professor Dr. Christian Küpfer, badischer Herkunft, Studiendekan des Studienganges Landschaftsplanung und Naturschutz an der HfWU-Nürtingen betonte nachdrücklich die Notwendigkeit durch gemeinschaftliches Wirtschaften, Qualitätsprodukte und touristische Erschliessung die Ertragssituation in Streuobstgebieten zu verbessern und darüber auch die Offenheit für zukunftweisende Wege der Streuobstentwicklung zu beachten.

Herr Dr. Khaled Siddig, Wirtschaftswissenschaftler und Spezialist für Entwicklungstheorie und Entwicklungspolitik im ländlichen Raum an den Universitäten Stuttgart-Hohenheim und Chartoum, äußerte seine biografische Verbundenheit mit den Streuobstlandschaften und ihren Kulturen. Er stammt aus einer Kulturlandschaft des Nord-Sudan mit Dattelpalmen – Sozialgemeinschaften. Er sagt leidenschaftlich: „Das ist unser Leben!“.

Herr Dr. Siddig betonte in seiner feinen Art die guten Aussichten eines international kooperativen Streuobst-Kultur-Projektes .

Als gemeinsamen Tenor beider Experten mit so unterschiedlichen persönlichen und wissenschaftlichen Herkünften könnte man Sympathie und vorsichtige Zuversicht für ein größeres, kulturbezogenes Entwicklungsprojekt für die traditionellen Streuobstlandschaften Europas und darüber hinaus benennen.

Die sehr interessierten Gäste hörten aufmerksam zu und diskutierten anschließend engagiert mit den Experten.

Nicht zuletzt die hochklassige musikalische Begleitung des Abends durch Michael Nessmann, Stuttgart an der Gitarre  machte diese Initial-Veranstaltung zu einem wirklich gelungenen, kurzweiligen Kulturtreff mit freundlichem Ausblick auf das Motiv des Abends.

Eine Folgeveranstaltung mit Zielführung zur Vorbereitung einer Aufnahme der StreuobstKulturen Europas zunächst in die „Tentativ-Liste der UNESCO-Kommission Deutschland“  ist für die zweite Jahreshälfte 2015 vorgesehen.

Peter Scharfenberger

Kirchstraße 5

72622 Nürtingens

Mobil: 01772521002

imkerei.scharfenberger@web.de

Citrus and spice and all things nice…

Lemon Curd

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Received this week as a gift from one of my faithful blog followers here in Franconia… What a lovely – and delicious – surprise, just like Mum used to make it (takes me right back here: memory’s myth land) and it pairs up really well with Hazelnut Crispbreads.

Thank you so much Karin!

 And the citrus hasn’t stopped there: I am currently working my way through a treasure of a cookbook received as a gift last autumn:

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Preserving, by Emma Macdonald

of The Bay Tree fame, published by Nourish Books 2014

The photography is classy, the recipes (both classic and contemporary) truly inspirational.

 (And just for the record: apart from owning the book, I have no connection whatsoever to either the author or affiliates…)

 A tale of kitchen table talent, here’s where you can read up on the story behind the book: http://www.crumbsmag.com/from-the-mag/686_form-follows-function

 And here’s where you can see what I have been testing and tasting this week:

 Orange & Cardamom Marmelade

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Lemon and Lavender Marmelade

(the recipe calls for lavender flowers and lavender essence – I had a couple of bottles of lavender syrup left over from the summer so worked those into the recipe instead…)

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Assessment: top marks awarded by both Hermann the German and Mini-Kraut – one of the most stringent juries out there..

 P.S. the book also contains a recipe for Lemon Curd…

Oranges and Lemons

A search for the word “citrus” in the edible landscapes along the winding path that led me to fruit-growing Franconia brings up:

… the citrus trees – oranges and lemons – in my grandmother’s generous veggie garden – shady and citrusy next to the red dust of the backyard … of which nothing now remains but a solitary concrete water tower and grandpa’s old workshop, still standing next to the sun-filled absence of my grandparents’ homestead, its unbaked Kimberly bricks now returned to the red earth from whence they had come some 100 years before. The rampant grass and greenery that is the southern African bush in January now flourishes where that house once stood, its roots nourished by the same rich, red soil that nourished mine, in that land from which you can never be expelled, memory’s myth land.

Riverton - The Backyard (2)                   Riverton 'The House' (2)

Just a few stretches of gravel and tarmac from that homestead, much of my childhood was spent in a suburb named Orange Grove, in a gravel street named after the Valencia Orange, in small-town deference to the citrus estate on the other side of the stream that was the boundary.

P1150459 (2)Valencia Crescent was the world as I knew it, complete with a culinary heritage rooted deep in the solidity of pot roasts, macaroni cheese, trifle, lemon meringue pie, rice pudding, apple crumble, scones and rock buns. There was Coronation Chicken and Aunty Nancy’s Meat Paste in amongst the frivolity of the 1960s and 1970s when cocktail snacks for cheese and wine parties took pride of place in the “Connoisseur Cooking” advertising supplements which arrived in the post every month: cheese straws and cheese dip, stuffed eggs next to melons sprouting cheese cubes and cocktail onions on cocktail sticks. It was a heritage which had also had a place for children’s birthday parties, where everything from the iced butterfly cakes and sausage rolls to the ballerina cake had been homemade by mum.

Part of my own personal heritage, citrus groves and plantations are part of the same agricultural heritage to which the orchards of Franconia belong.

For me, frosty February in Franconia is citrus time, when the citrus fruit ripened in the groves of southern Europe reaches this side of the Alps in abundance….

 And this year, like last year,

 Preserved Lemons

 are a must!

Preserved Lemons with Copyright

Such a treat for dressings and marinades come the summer and so easy to make.

Preserve them either as single lemons in jam-jar-sized jars, or several lemons in a large preserving jar, with the spice mix of your choice, e.g. cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, whole allspice and whole coriander… and of course sea salt (pure sea salt without any additives).

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Quantities: 1 lemon requires the juice of a further lemon and enough sea salt to fill its jar about a third full.

How to do it:

1) Sterilise your jars
2) Wash your lemons and sort them into lemons for the jar and lemons for the juice i.e. any with blemishes get juiced.
3) Slice the lemons for the jar into quarters and place in the sterilised jar(s).
4) Add your spices to the lemon in the jar(s).
5) Pour enough sea salt into each jar to fill it about one third full.
6) Juice one juice lemon per lemon-in-a-jar and pour over the lemon(s) in the jar(s).
7) Top up with enough cold water to cover the lemons, seal the jar(s) and turn them several times to ensure that the salt, lemon juice and water are well mixed. Store in a cool, dark place for about 3 months i.e. if you make them now they will be ready for the start of the summer, turning the jars gently every few days.

Over time, the salt will dissolve to form a wonderful lemony brine which is perfect for dressings, drizzling and marinating with both vegetables and meat (fish, chicken). The thinly sliced rind, too, is great used in the same way. The flesh comes away from the rind easily after 3 months in the brine and is discarded.