Learning To Crop Gấc

Gac, Momordica cochinchinensis, is a tropical fruit related to bitter melon (M. charantia). I saw my first gac on sale in a tea plantation in Srimangal, Bangladesh. Native from SE Asia and China through Indonesia to far northern Queensland, gac is a traditional food and medicinal plant.

Grow Pandan And Make Pandan Paste And Juice

Pandan (Pandanus amarylliifolius) has long been a staple in tropical food gardens in South and South East Asia. Its leaves impart a unique aroma and flavour to drinks, rice, cakes and desserts. As with all garden produce, the quality of freshly picked pandan surpasses that of the dried or the frozen equivalent. Fortunately, pandan is easy to grow in a subtropical or tropical climate, they make an attractive display, it is an easy plant to  propagate and maintain in a kitchen garden.

King’s Salad Recipe

When cooking in a hot kitchen doesn’t appeal, there’s a flavour-filled alternative: king’s salad – Vietnamese style. Popular in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Whatever you decide, the complex, zesty flavour of king’s salad is delightful on its own. Use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner…

Tomatillo Salsa Verde Recipe

“Salsa verde, chilled and freshly made from home grown tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica), is great on a hot day. An excuse for not cooking on (another) one of those sticky subtropical summer days”.

Make Dessert with Aloe vera

“I planted Aloe vera so I can use its juice to soothe sunburn. It grows effortlessly in my nature strip. People also use it to relieve the itching caused by eczema. I also enjoy cooked Aloe vera as a dessert.”

Three Cheers for the Kaffir Lime

I invite you to join me in calling the Kaffir Lime a Kaffir Lime. Researchers and editors take note: it’s hip and more accurate to call the Kaffir lime by its original name!

Bunya: Prehistoric Plant, Ancient Australian Food Tradition

“Young Australians need to be educated about what a Bunya tree looks like, what the sound of snapping cones and breaking branches sound like, and to avoid lingering underneath them in high summer. When I was at primary school, we had a Bunya in the schoolyard. We knew what to do, how to harvest them, and no one was ever hurt.”

Turmeric In The Garden And Kitchen

After gardening in the heat and humidity of a Brisbane summer’s day, I find Turmeric Tea (Curcuma longa) most refreshing, especially if chilled and served with fresh, finely chopped mint leaves or lemongrass stems. An Indonesian friend, Hakim, introduced me to Turmeric Tea in 2010, saying “Drinking turmeric daily reduces body odour, helps keep you healthy and…

Mangelwurzel Harvest

I imagine everyone is outdoors, harvesting their mangelwurzels (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima) today like me. A friend is thinking about brewing mangelwurzel beer, they’re supposed to make a potent drop. Alcohol is not my strong point. Would a beetroot or turnip recipe work as a substitute? Can anyone point me to a recipe?

Chilli Jam

What do you do with an embarrassment of chillies? Normally, I deep freeze chillies and keep a year’s supply to hand. But when I picked 500g of ‘Piri Piri’ chillies from a single plant, I had to change my plan. ‘Piri Piri’ is a chilli which originated in Portugal and was introduced into South Asia…

Elephant Foot Yam: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Elephant foot yam In 2013, Annette McFarlane gave me a young Elephant Yam, Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. This tropical, forest-dwelling, winter herbaceous perennial root crop is native to India, SE Asia, New Guinea and Australia. It is recorded as one of the earliest crops cultivated by indigenous Australians. Not content with being a curiously ornamental flower and a…