Edit (14/8/20): I'm slowly adding (and fleshing out) some of my instagram and facebook posts to this blog so all the content I have created over the years can be found in one place. This is a nostalgic look back to a time when we could get out and go for adventures further afield.
At the moment, in week 2 of stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, I find myself ruminating on how long it will be before we get back to that kind of life. But at the same time, when I walk the streets of my neighbourhood and see the ornamental cherry and plum trees blossoming and the early daffodils flowering, it reminds me that the seasons are changing and like all things, this too will pass.
Recent winter treasures from various rambling adventures include Lemonades from the Collingwood Children's Farm, super fresh Walnuts from Ceres Community Environment Park and the last of the Hawthorn Berries and Rosehips from up near Castlemaine. These are all super delicious and nutrient rich foods; read on to find out more.
Lemonades - Citron limon.
My daughter is obsessed with Lemonade lemons and will probably eat them all as soon as I leave the kitchen! Lemonade lemons are the result of Meyer lemons crossed with New Zealand Grapefruits (which are not true grapefruits but are thought to be a hybrid of pomelos and mandarins or tangelos. As an aside, like kiwifruits they are actually from China not New Zealand!). They are a low-acid fruit with a gentle sweetness and mild lemon flavour, and can be eaten straight from the tree as they come apart in segments like an orange. Nutritionally, they are a good source of Vitamin C and fibre, and I can tell you they taste delicious juiced and added to a little Gin 🍸😋. I have never seen them in shops, but I do feel as though they are becoming more widely available recently - or perhaps that's just because my daughters love of them is becoming common knowledge in our community.
Hawthorn - Crataegus spp
There are somewhere between 100-200 different species of Hawthorn; apparently botanical taxonomists struggle to agree with one another 🤣. They are part of the Rose family which is enormous and covers many of our popular cultivated fruits including, apples, pears, cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, almonds and more. Hawthorn berries, called 'Haws' grow on thorny Hawthorn (Haw-thorn) trees and shrubs. Some are more thorny than others, but the one I came across certainly had long thorns. I had to very careful while I was harvesting not to let my face get too close to the branches 😣. They are so hard and strong, that I was thinking they would make great bush needles or pins for mending things while camping. So of course I googled it later and found this great pic.
Hawthorn has been used medicinally for centuries for a variety of complaints but is most well known now days as a heart tonic useful in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. The berries, flowers and leaves are all used and contain varying quantities of antioxidant procyanadins and bioflavonoids. The official medicinal species used is Crataegus monogyna, although American herbalist Jim McDonald claims that all (berries in particular) can be used interchangeably. Monogyna means one seed, so each haw only contains a single seed; making this is a very simple way to identify the species. I'll probably dry the berries I collected today to make some tea to turn into jelly. I use Hawthorn berries in the Winter warming tea & the Healthy Veins tea blends.
Rosehip - Rosa spp
Rosehips are the gorgeous fruits that emerge after roses are finished, and they are an excellent source of vitamin C. They can be eaten raw but some are so small and full of little seeds that it can be a frustrating endeavour trying to get enough fruit. Briar Roses and Dog Roses have the largest Rosehips but the ones I picked were the little kind.
While fresh they can be used to make jam and syrups, but they are frequently dried and used in tea, or commercially they're powdered and added to foods to supercharge the vitamin C content. The dried fruit and seeds are pressed to make wonderfully antioxidant rosehip oil; the dried skin contains a considerable amount of skin healing Vitamin A. I love the tart zesty flavour and nutritional punch of Rosehips so I use them in quite a few of my tea blends including Arthritis tea, Brain Power tea, Healthy Veins tea, Grow & Thrive tea, Radiant Clear Skin tea & Spring Fever tea,
Walnuts: Juglans regia
Walnuts in their shells are so fresh and sweet! All nuts quickly become rancid once shelled so this is a great time to eat them fresh. If purchasing shelled nuts, always buy them from somewhere that has a rapid turnover to avoid staleness and store them in the fridge or freezer to reduce the oxidation and rancidity that occurs when nuts are exposed to oxygen, heat and light. But when they are in season, eat them straight out of the shell.
One of the easiest ways to open a walnut shell (thanks mum!) is to use a key (or a butter knife) and press it into the line at the base (not the pointy end) of the walnut shell, give it a little twist and it will quickly and easily open in half. Kids and adults alike, absolutely love cracking walnut shells open! When the kids were little, one of our favourite things to do with all the leftover shells was making boats.
Walnuts are incredibly high in DHA, an Omega 3 fatty acid that is essential for brain function. It supports neural plasticity and the health of synapses involved in memory and learning, so is essential for children and brain development. Walnuts also help to reduce the risk and progression of brain disorders such as Parkinsons, alzheimers, stroke and depression, and so are also still essential in later life. Just make sure they are fresh not rancid!
The doctrine of signatures is an old fashioned theory that is founded on the notion that foods resembling certain areas of the body will be particularly beneficial for those areas. This theory is often dismissed now days, but it certainly holds true for walnuts.
I think I need to go eat some walnuts........