Any land I cultivate tends to oscillate wildly between pride inducing order and unruly wildness; each may be as productive as the other when the weeds are right (as in my amaranth harvests), but I have yet to achieve that permaculture style of bounteous shoulder to shoulder polyculture. I garden too much like an occasional labourer and not enough like a reliable custodian, I know it.
Surpluses seem to always come as a surprise – like the birdseye chillis out the front of the apartment at the moment. To be fair, they aren’t mine, but planted by my downstairs neighbour who is my informal collaborator on the building’s herb garden. She is busy with baby, so I took the liberty of getting some in a jar for future use for both of us. With wildly varying spice palates in our family, loading chillis into dinner isn’t an option for me, so I favour a hot condiment that I can then inflict only upon myself.
The other extra ingredients lying around were a green tomato from a community garden working bee, two roadside crab apples from a recent country drive and honey (a recent passion that comes with starting beekeeping whereby I have box filled with 30 different varieties to learn that world and which I keep obsessively adding to). This is only very slightly a foraging effort, and I don’t much intend to post on vegie gardening and cooking, but it is an original (I think) and successful enough (I think) recipe to share (I think).
Recipe: In a small pot, cook 2 crab apples sliced and with just enough water to not burn them until mushy. Then blend the mush with 50 small birdseye chillies, 1 green tomato and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and add a star anise pod. Return to simmer and occasionally stir for another 15 minutes then strain through wine bag (or cheesecloth, muslin, etc); this may take a while or leave overnight or through the day at work. Return liquid to pot with 200g honey, a couple of spoons of brown sugar, a couple of pinches of salt and heat to melt it all in. Pour into sterilised jars. If setting fails, either redo to boil and add some pectin or call it a sauce. Serve, for example, on toasted homemade bread with foraged fried saffron milk caps (today’s breakfast). It could perhaps be improved with some other herbs and spices like cardamon and coriander and some finely chopped deseeded chillis for appearance.