100 years ago the land I live on used to be a substantial orange grove. There’s still one of the original trees from the original grove in my next door neighbours backyard. Up the street another neighbour has a tree and can’t eat more than one a day because he’s diabetic so he’s been sharing the fruit with people in the street. About 10 kgs were dropped over to me one day after I’d foraged some from an orange tree that grows on public land. Needless to say I had way too many oranges.
Apart from giving a heap away we’ve been eating them fresh. I also made some juice. I have made Tunisian orange syrup cake in the past which is delicious but it doesn’t use up a lot of oranges. To use up the bulk of these ones I’ve cut them thinly into 5mm rounds and put in the dehydrator (10 hours at 70C) to make dried orange chips. They look like stain glass windows when ready. No need to peel off the rind this can be eaten too when dried. Once cooled and dried melt some dark chocolate and dip the orange chips into the dark chocolate. Put in the fridge on trays to set the chocolate. Store in an air tight jar.
I went up to the hills in May with a local friend who showed me some old forgotten fruit trees. With permission from the property owners I gathered quinces, apples and giant river walnuts. On the Adelaide plains I collected some oranges from a neglected tree in a public car park. The oranges were just dropping on the ground and rotting so I figured that no one would mind if I collected some. The oranges were very concentrated in flavor. Very tart which is how I like my fruit.
With the quinces I made some stewed quinces in syrup as well as some quince paste (Membrillo). We ate the apples and walnuts fresh as is and shared them around to friends and family. Some of the walnuts I forgot about and left them outside and they sprouted into baby walnut trees. I am nurturing the seedlings and aim to do some guerilla plantings this winter somewhere close to home.
Membrillo -(Adapted river cottage recipe)
Wash the quince. Roughly chop the fruit but don’t peel or core them. Place in a large pan and barely cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft and pulpy, adding a little more water if necessary. Leave to stand for several hours.
Rub the contents of the pan through a sieve or pass through a mouli. Weigh the pulp and return it to the cleaned-out pan, adding an equal weight of sugar. Bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer gently, stirring frequently, for an hour and a bit until really thick and glossy. It may bubble and spit like a volcano, so do take care. The mixture is ready when it is so thick that you can scrape a spoon through it and see the base of the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture oozes together again.
When the Membrillo is cooked, pour it into the prepared moulds or jars. To seal open moulds, pour melted food-grade paraffin wax over the hot membrillo. Jars can be sealed with lids. Membrillo set in a shallow tray should be covered with greaseproof paper and kept in the fridge. If you would like it firmer, place in oven on low heat or dehydrator to make it firmer.
For optimum flavour, allow the Membrillo to mature for 4–6 weeks before using. Eat within 12 months.