Market Tour and Taste

For the last year or so I have run some occasional Market tours through “Healthy Darwin”, which is a City of Darwin, council program that subsidises the tour. We came up with the idea to connect people to their food more, by connecting them to local growers and familiarising them with the sometimes more ‘unusual’ local produce and I take participants for a tour of Darwin’s largest local produce market, “Rapid Creek Markets” and then onto the nearest community garden- “Jingili Community Garden”, just across the creek.

I take up to 15 Darwin residents on a produce experience, from garden, to market, to taste or vice a versa. Many of the people who come along have lived in Darwin for a long time and even go to the market, but wonder what some the items are and would love to know how to use them. Often the stall holders are understandably too busy to explain more than ‘stirfry’ or similar. Most growers have small farms in the rural area outside Darwin, in Humpty Doo, Virginia, Howard Springs and Bees Creek, and drive in for the Sunday market. Not everything is local, so it is good to know what is in season and all stall holders will tell you straight up where the produce came from, if it sprayed and so on…

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The idea of the tour is to familiarise people a little more with the local produce sold at the market, to explain  the uses of the different produce and how it is grown, and to meet some of the growers and hear their stories. It is so valuable to connect people to the produce they consume, know who grows it, how it grows and even inspire people that to grow a little yourself is not that hard.

After many years visiting the markets I have built up a pretty good relationship with a lot of the stall holders, who are often very busy and work really hard, so we try not get in their way too much and I am always appreciative of any of them who can spend a couple of minutes with us.

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After a walk through the markets we then take a chilled walk to the nearby Jingili community gardens to see some of the produce growing, the participants can find out how to get involved in local community gardens, or just get inspired to grow a few things at home.

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We then sit in the workshop area and taste some of the items, that either I have brought along, or those on the the tour have selected and bought with some their returned “tour fee” – a kind of show and tell. We try these raw or lightly cooked on a simple camp stove set up I bring along with some basic ingredients.  I give ideas about how to use produce to the create delicious dishes and hopefully the tools to take way to experiment with the plant parts (ok, the veggies and fruit).

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We are looking to do a few more tours and maybe one that starts at the market and moves on to different gardens around the Northern Suburbs. If you are interested, get in touch and I can put you on the communications list.

I am always too busy to take photos, these shots are  kindly taken by  Lina of Malak Market place, who came on a market tour last year, we hope to work with her at Malak Market next year. Thanks also to Healthy Darwin for subsidising the tour!

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It’s a miracle

Recently Lilly contacted me, who lives in the suburb of Tiwi and grows miracle fruit. I had heard of miracle fruit before, I had even tried these little fun fruits, when a farmer from the rural area bought some in to town. So what is the miracle about this fruit? Well Miracle fruits make sour things taste sweet and I went to check out how they grow, in a back yard amongst her chooks.

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 Miracle fruit comes from a shrub, Synsepalum dulcificum, that is native to tropical West Africa. This shrub grows up to six-meters tall, and has brown flowers with small red fruit or berries. If you pop one of these berries in your mouth, you chew on it and spit out the small seed, your tongue is then coated in the fleshy residue, you can then swallow the rest. The actual taste of the berry is not particularly sweet, just fairly neutral and a little weird. Now if you try a lime or lemon it will taste sweet not sour- it’s pretty wacky and well worth a go for the novelty. After I had got a few from Lilly we also tried beer, which changed its flavour, it is also suggested that you can try vinegar, wine, stinky cheeses and all kinds of sour things.. The effect will last up to half an hour.

miracle fruit on benchSo how does this miracle work? Well the fruit contains a glycoprotein called Miraculin, which rewires how the taste buds perceive sour flavours. Miraculin attaches to receptors for sweet taste without activating them until they are subjected to acid. Acids induce a change in the miraculin-attached receptors resulting in activation of the receptor. Hence, miraculin makes sweet receptors react when subjected to acids (Kurihara, 1992; Wong and Kern, 2011)

Miracle fruits are highly perishable and do not last long off the bush. In the US flavour tripping parties using miracle berries and a spread of combined sour or bitter foods to try after are popular.

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If you want to try one, Lilly in Tiwi grows many trees in her back yard and they are fruiting maybe for just one more week! She sells them for $2 a try and small plants, so you can grow your own from $10. She has pots and pots of them and an orchard of them amongst her chooks. You can pop in on Sundays at 347 Trower Road, Nakara, or contact Lilly on 0405027697. or at  topendmiraclefruits@yahoo.com.au.

What the Fruit?- Sour Gooseberries!

 I came across these little fruits at Rapid Creek Market last week, and if there is anything I have never seen before (which is now less and less likely) I always get it and give it a try. This fruit is really sour and although I had ideas of making a pickle or jam, time ran away and most of them were still in the fruit bowl this Sunday- It is Sour Gooseberry, Phyllanthus acidius.

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I went back to the stall and Moy who grows this tree at her place in Humpty Doo had made some sweet and Indian style pickles to sell to show what you could do- I tried both and bought the Indian one and it is pretty good- the only down side is that each little fruit has a stone in, which slightly alters the eating experience of it. I did a bit more research and found its origin is unknown, but may have come from South America, but it is now found commonly in South, Central and North America and Asia. It is a medium tree to 9m, and as most trees likes full sun and plenty of water and not to dry out.

sour gooseberry pickleIn India it is used in Ayeverdic medicine and as a liver cleanser, blood purifier and to prolong life in all kinds of ways and improve brain function- Wow I should have bought 5 trays and start growing a forest of it! It has a high content of vitamin C and can be made into syrup to take as medicine! I imagine it is easily grown from seed. OK that’s it- curious fruit of the week mystery solved!

Dry Delights

I just wanted to share some of the amazing produce growing right now up here in the Top End, some of it in our garden and some of it at nearby market gardens and farms and selling through the market…..and why some of this is so exciting, because it only grows now and we are lucky enough to have it in season in this, not so dry Dry season.

july basketThe most exciting for me are delicious tomatoes, that actually taste like tomatoes and are not trucked in from far away- these are Roma Tomatoes, grown by Jenko’s in Noonama- spray free and sold through Greenies Real Food. The other goodies from Rapid Creek market and our garden are cucumbers, zucchinis, snake gourd (OK you can grow that all year), mint, dill, delicious salad greens from Dan’s Aweganic garden, eggplant (another all rounder) and some edible marigolds!

And here are some chillies, sadly the most abundant thing in our garden, not sadly, but I wish the zucchini would fruit and something would not keep taking the cucumbers…lucky some others are growing some great produce nearby..

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Day 4 Food Challenge- Lunch

So, Thursday, working from home again made it easier. I do eat fruit and muesli and toast, but not everyday, I often struggle to find something I fancy for brekkie anyway, so with out those bits and pieces I was not more complacent than usual. I made a tasty juice for Jon (who is painting) and I from the pink  local Grapefruits that I usually buy every week and the lemonade/ orange local citrus that I scored from the market- it was delicious and refreshing with rainwater ice. they were so juicy, for two really big cups I probably used 8 fruit..

Pink Juice I had a banana and pineapple fruit salad (sounds more flash than it was) and then lunch. This involved left over taro and plantain parcels, and some eggplant I picked in the garden.

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I grilled them up with the usual suspects of chili, lime and my naughty non local oil and some garlic chives and saw tooth coriander and added Gota Kola which is supposed to be amazing medicinally. It has a bitter flavour- but I really like it with other herbs.

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The salad was an impromptu thing, but it looked and tasted fresh and crisp. Sweet leaf from our yard, rose apples from Dan’s neighbour, cucumber from local growers, coconut shred from our shredding of back yard coconuts, Zinnias from the community garden (to add colour) the last of the parrot beak flowers from the market and a bit of paw paw from the gardenand a stragley bit of local mint…just limejuice and chilli with a touch of local honey as the dressing- pretty good. I love fruit salad, sweet and savoury crunch mixes.

rose apple saladThe taro parcel were great the next day, cracked pepper would have been awesome, but the banana leaf flavour had been absorbed and they weren’t bad.

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So all up a pretty good combo for lunch. But it is tiring stuff, prep, prep. Seriously distracted by food (easy to do)! We make mainly local based food anyway, but without the grains and flours (and bread) the prep of more than usual raw veggies (and many wet season veg need cooking) it is a bit more of a commitment – good fun though…

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Dan’s Awesome AWEGANICS

Dan Sheridan has a magic touch when it comes to growing food plants and everything he grows and his whole life is permeated by permaculture! He has started a project in the suburban block where he live called “Aweganics” in Rapid Creek. He is producing food plants and edible flowers, permaculture style and then selling them to small retailers and others- delivered by bike within 400m of his garden.

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His garden has so much produce, including Zinnia flowers, Kangkong, Amaranth, Ceylon Spinach, Egyptian spinach, lemongrass, banana (circles), sweet potato. lemon basil, thai basil, jaboticaba, sublime, cumquat, arrow root, passionfruit banana, tree spinach, ceylon spinach, chiilies, moringa, moranta, coco yam, taro, lemongrass, sweetleaf, cats whiskers, brazillian spinach, papaya, pinto peanut, black sapote, white sapote, winged bean, snake bean, sesbania, stevia, saw tooth coriander, tumeric, galangal, ginger,cassava, lemna, water lillies, mother of herbs, oregano, pineapple, pigeon pea, crotolaria, mustard, rollinia, rungia, pineapple sage, mung bean…

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Dan only started this garden 6 months ago and it is incredible. Bananas, pineapples and pawpaws and the more longer fruiting plants, like citrus have been put in and will be producing in abundance soon. It is only going to be more full of wonders in the future.

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dan butterflydan5 To contact Dan email him on breatharianrestaurant@hotmail.com or call 0432476003

Rambutans

Now if you have been to Rapid Creek or other local markets and local fruit and veg shops you may have seen that Rambutans are in season (and they are from November to Feb in the NT). These rubbery red monsters hang in bunches on large beautiful trees in rural Darwin and beyond.

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The fleshy spikey skin can be split with you nails or teeth and underneath is a smooth sweet and juicy white fruit. This has a small stone inside it and tastes a lot like a lychee and is high in vitamin C.  The fruit can be enjoyed fresh out of the shell or enjoyed in a variety of Asian sweet and sour style dishes.

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Their botanical name is Nephelium lappaceum and they originally come from Indonesia and Malaysia. If you fancy growing them in your yard, you need a big space for them- they can get to a height of up to 20m, but you can prune them to stay lower.

Also availabale at Greenie’s real food