Preserving and more preserving!

February has continued to be very hot (the highest we recorded was 44.7 Celcius!! Some areas of the garden suffered in the heat, but a few of the veggies thrived! We had tomatoes in abundance, and despite giving away loads to family and friends there was plenty to preserve.

So we tended to do indoor jobs on those hot days, including lots of preserving the produce that was in abundance, such as…..

Creole sauce is a wonderfully versatile sauce using up the abundance of tomatoes and other veggies. It will make a great pasta sauce, or a base to add meat to, or to add to casseroles in the cooler weather. We are always happy to have plenty of sweet chilli sauce on hand too, so have made quite a few bottles this season with our great ongoing crop of long red chilli.
Batches of stewed rhubarb, zucchini pickles, and more delicious Creole sauce!

With the heat, we have been working on perfecting our sourdough bread in a camp oven on the barbecue rather than having the oven on in the house- it has been quite successful, though more tweaking of the controls to get the best temperature for the final browning is needed.


It’s getting chilly!!

Well, we have had a bit of rain to top up the tanks, so no need to buy water for a while at least But it is so cold! One weekend morning it was minus 2.1 still at 7.30am!

A few plants suffered with the sudden chill, so now we are trying to protect them with nets to see if that helps them bounce back in spring.

Preserving has continued, with a bit of a reshuffle in the produce room needed to fit it all on the shelves. It has also been a bit tedious writing the contents on each lid (in case we forget what is what!), so now we write on the shelf directly with chalk!

We had such a great pumpkin harvest this year, so some was chopped and canned in some broth ready to make pumpkin soup, mash or add to casseroles- yum! There are still loads of pumpkins to harvest too!

And in exiting news, our Flemish Giant rabbit ‘Kep’ (Nyungar for ‘rain’) is due to have babies any day! She is looking particularly large around the middle, and has started pulling out fur to line a nest behind her crate. This will be her first litter, so fingers are crossed all goes well for her and the kits.

Passionfruit, limes and chillies!

The warm Perth autumn weather has been great for growing (not so good for filling the dams though!). We have had (and are still having) bumper crops, particularly passionfruit, limes, chillies and lemons.

yellow passionfruit, limes and lemons

Today has included some preserving- freezing loads of passionfruit pulp to use later, freezing lime and lemon wedges (great fro add to a refreshing drink, especially those with gin in them!), making lime and chilli pickle, and salted chilli (great for a quick add to a meal without having to cut up chillies each time.

Love these chillies, there is always an amazing amount!

We usually make a delicious sweet chilli sauce, but with over 20 bottles already in the produce room it is time for something different! This is a really easy recipe- just chop up 500 grams fresh red chillies (I use the Thermomix), then add 60 grams salt and mix thoroughly. Put into sterilised jars and add another 15 grams of salt on top, then store in a cool place for a couple of weeks, then the fridge to use. This fills two 300ml jars.

Chopped chillies and salt, ready to jar- it is quite pungent!

After searching for something different to make with our limes, I decided to make a lime pickle next weekend as it needs more preparation time. Today was this really simple lime pickle– just wedges of lime, julienned ginger and chopped green chillies, in layers with a teaspoon of salt on top of each layer (3 in total). Once all that is done, just add the juice of one lime, add the lid and give it a good shake. Shake three times a day for 3 or 4 days. It looks delicious and we can’t wait to try it!

Lime pickle

All in all a fruitful day!


Luffa or Loofah Soap

We love growing our own luffa/loofah, which we then use in a hand soap. It is great for cleaning off the dirt after a day in the garden!

Growing loofah is much like growing pumpkin, though they do have a longer growing season so don’t leave the planting too late. Here in Perth we plant in September/October. If it is cool in September (which it certainly is this year!), it is best to plant in trays under cover. Usually though I have no problem sowing seed directly into the soil. This year we had a good crop, though for some reason they were quite small.

When young, the loofah can be cooked and eaten, but we prefer to grow them to maturity to use the dried sponge inside. When they have matured, they dry out and you can hear the seeds rattling inside. After picking, we allow them to dry out some more, then peel them, and shake all the seeds out-saving for planting the next season of course.

After being peeled, cleaned and air dried they look like this:

Home grown loofah, cleaned and ready to use

The loofah need to be really dry, so we leave them another week or two to be sure, then make up a batch of melt and pour soap. This is a really quick way of making soap, though we have plans next time to make a cold press soap and see how that goes. Melt and pour soap comes in a block- we just got the plain glycerine soap from Aussie Soap Supplies and added some lemongrass essential oil and a hint of yellow colour. The loofah were cut to size and placed inside these handy, non stick cylinders (we also tried in the soap moulds to see how they would work).

Once set and cool, the soaps in the moulds were turned out-but a lot of the detail of the mould is lost with the loofah inside so next time we will try plain moulds. With the cylinders, we just carefully cut off the closed end and pushed out the soap, then cut into slices.

The final product, is a gentle, lightly antibacterial (from the lemongrass) loofah soap that works a treat after a day in the garden- you know?- when the dirt is ingrained in your fingers and you think they will never be the same again!


Our latest preserving venture is lacto-fermentation, a process which has been around for a long time and has many health benefits. After a few experiments and a couple of hands on workshops (in particular with Yoke Mardewi from Wild Sourdough, we are now well on the way and have a few delicious items fermenting away!

Just a few….

Just a few….

There is a batch of sauerkraut and a batch of kimchi in the fridge being eaten, and in this photo is two types of sauerkraut, more kimchi, rhubarb and beetroot (left), saltless carrots, garlic in brine and garlic in honey. Next on the list is a mushroom ferment…..when we can find the shimeji mushrooms needed! Recipes will be added soon to the recipe section.

Welcome rain…

We had great rain in May, though so far in June it has been warm and sunny…not really what is needed in winter!

The ‘complex’ complex has had a bit of a revamp which includes a fence around it. Traditionally what we have done is bury the left overs once we have prepared rabbits, chickens etc for the freezer, plus use animal manures freely. We haven’t been able to do this in this new raised bed garden as the dogs are big and agile enough to jump in and dig it all up again! The gardens were suffering from a lack of nutrients, so fencing was the easy answer. Once the fence was in, we were able to really nourish the soil in the raised beds and replant area, and it is really starting to take off now, especially with the rain we experienced in May.

Secure from the dogs!

Secure from the dogs!