The day after I bought my new old wagon It wont be hard to guess what I did yes I went foraging…….
I drove very slowly around Wonga Beach just above Mossman to see what I could find I then walked along the beach for awhile picking up what I could I guess that would be more aptly called scavenging than foraging but lets not get into pedantic’s…… I strolled along looking here and looking there thinking now this is my kind of exercise it is far better than putting sneakers on and walking in a straightish line on asphalt or gravel, I found some pieces of cuttlefish which I was sure I would find a good home for someone I know must have birds……
I found some coconuts and that was it for now on the beach I had had enough walking so I drove back to look around the rest of the area and I seen some mangoes on the road yah!!!! How exiting I have been coming up north here on and off for about 9 years and I have missed mango season every time but not this year and I love mangoes so I’m so exited and have been eagerly watching the young mangoes form on the trees now for a couple of weeks there isn’t just a few trees here there are so many it looks like it is raining mangoes my dreams have come true…. 🙂
So I picked up the usable ones green through to over ripe and nearly fermenting I put them in a box in the back of my wagon god it smelt good in there I drove a bit further on and I seen another mango tree I pulled up under another tree for the shade and as I put my bare foot out onto the ground I felt something squishy I looked down and saw purple pulp oozing up between my toes and on closer inspection I realize with the greatest delight that it was a mulberry tree I had parked under so I got my bamboo stick out of the wagon and laid my cloth down on the ground under the tree and gentle bashed to branches and watched all the little scrumptious gems fall to earth. They were so yummy I had heard people talk about mulberry trees up here and I just assumed it was a common name for a different tree to what I know as a mulberry which is a Morus species I thought it would be to hot up here for them but no it is the same tree that we have in temperate to cold climates so there you go.
Anyway I headed home with my bounty and I pulped the mangoes by squeezing them through my fingers oh what fun I then froze the pulp, I portioned the mulberries up there wasn’t many I took some to the elders meeting and they loved them they all had blue black tounges and fingers so funny……. I kept one serve for my friend Mick I turned his into a smoothy with fresh coconut flesh and milk, frozen banana, paw paw and the mulberries it was a gorgeous color and opps I didn’t get to take a picture it was gone to quick.
A few days later I had collected enough jars to use the mango pulp I made Mango and Tamarind relish, I fried off brown onions and garlic in olive oil I added the mango and the tamarind pulp some ginger, salt, pepper, curry spices, my home made vinegar & raw sugar I boiled this hard until the mixture thickened then I bottled it, It is so good and I already have another lot of pulp in the freezer but I need to go on another jar hunt.
Well I hope you are all enjoying your surrounding spring or winter bounty like me.
In the picture above you can see from left to right- Water melon, paw paw, ginger & turmeric kombucha then in the middle the River cherry/Lilly pilly (Syigium fibrosum) kombucha and then my Pineapple vinegar.
In the first kombucha on the left I blended water melon and paw paw together I then added some ginger & turmeric bug and kombucha and let sit to brew.
In the River Cherry kombucha I put the seeds of the river cherries that were left over from jam making in a batch of kombucha to brew and it is amazingly tart I just love it.
The Pineapple vinegar is just a mixture of pineapple rind, raw sugar, water and a small vinegar mother that had formed on my home made fruit vinegar it is bubbling away on the bench nicely it still needs more time and I will up date when it is finished.
I am running out of jars and fridge space…………. 🙂
So an up date on my tamarind (Tamarindus indica) experiments so far, I am trying a couple different way to preserve tamarinds for later use I have frozen some of the pulp as talked about previously and I have now tried to dry it, I pulled the seeds and pulp out of the shell and left them hole I then sat it out in the sun for a few days then inside in a hot room with a fan going for well over a week and it just wouldn’t completely dry out which makes sense because it is still quite moist when you buy it in the blocks and I have never seen it completely dry and now I know why also it must have like its own preservative because it didn’t get moldy at all.
I stuffed the tamarind into a fido jar and it is sitting on the kitchen bench I’m hoping it will keep like that so when I get on the road again I can take it with me and it will keep without a fridge.
Early start cant seem to sleep in even if I try my body and mind stirring moments before the birds sing in the new morning light, it is the first time I have been up here in the Mossman area on the edge of the Daintree at this time of year and everything is so exiting there are new birds I have never seen flitting and singing in spring courtship the crickets sound like they are going to burst in an explosion of sound the cane season is nearly at an end and I love how there are new unseen realms and views exposed everyday behind the fallen sugarcane.
Sitting here now at six tenish in the morning looking out over the mist shrouded newly cut cane field at my new view listening to the distant now much clearer road sounds you don’t realize how much sound a field of greenery can block out until it is gone. The sun has just pocked his head up above the hills directly behind my van where I sit writing this the sharp cry of the hawk piercing through the morning choir draws my attention from the screen it is hard to maintain my focus in this most sacred of times, they are having a feeding frenzy on the many morsels of I don’t now exactly what that are revealed but the busy noisy cutters, huge flocks of brown hawks circle in the skies swooping down to feed they have figured out there is easy food at the end of this human activity and when you see them in the sky in the distance you know they are cutting cane over there….. it is an amazing spectacle and I feel so blessed to be alive.
I love it up here it is so vibrant with life of all sorts I even have thing moving in with me there are insect eggs on my curtains and god knows where else that I cant see little white spiders have made webs over the two small always open window at the back of my van to catch the entering or exiting insects very smart indeed if I was a spider it is exactly where I would put my web, I have brightly blue chested male sun birds hovering at my open door rite in front of my face checking out if my van is a suitable spot to make his nest while his more mutely colored lady sits patently waiting on the cloths line and I even had a little bat pee rite in my eye while I was laying looking up at the stars one night………
So the foraged food subject of this blog is River Cherries the common name used by many a local up here to describe a member of what I would refer to as a lilly pilly, I spotted their bulging red fleshed bodies hanging from a tree on the edge of the golf course on our way to pick more Tamarind down the road so after picking tamarind we stopped to check them out I figured they were some sort of Syzygium sp. aka lilly pilly my friend Mick after a long think told me they called them river cherries which I thought was a nice name even though they taste nothing like cherries well maybe those smaller tart Kentish cherries, they are very juicy and eye poppingly tart but refreshing and instantly I thought mmmmmm jam, I love jams made from tart or sour fruits so we picked a basket full of fruit trying to not get hit by passing golf balls and fighting of the green ant that were not happy with us we headed home myself knowing I had a lot of work in front of me. I had a huge basket of tamarind to process which I will do a separate blog and update on and a good sized basket of river cherries they have one seed and I had to sit and pit each one individually it was a bit like doing Laurels another of my favorite jams, it took me a good hour or so with a knife to do about two kilograms of fruit which ended up as about one kilograms of flesh I added a small amount of water and just boiled and added sugar as in any other jam recipe I got three bright pink sweetly tart jars of jam it is wonderful and I cant wait to pick more to make enough to give each of the aunties a jar.
I’m also mobile again now so I will be blogging more about all the goodies I find happy days 🙂