This time of year you can fall asleep under a mosquito net, pushing the sheets from you in the sticky air. By morning you’ll wake to the wind blowing cool waves across the trees and rain shadowing the horizon. But this morning is cool and sunny and I’m reminded why these late March days can be my favourite time of year. The rain has cleared and the forest shivers in the autumn wind. The flood waters recede and the creeks are clear and deep and almost blue.
Today Julia and Anastasia are showing me the tropical fruit and kiwi orchard on the other side of the farm. I haven’t been to this side of the farm before. The lemony sunlight isn’t quite warm this morning but by midday it’ll be swimming weather and feel like summer again. This feeling of the last days of summer slipping into the cooler months of autumn is visible in the fruit grown on the farm too. The pears, chestnuts and avocados mark the beginning of the season and the last jackfruits are ready to pick.
We head down the track, which is still muddy and slippery from the rain. The goats, Moth and Magnolia, follow us, along with the little black dog, Pokey. It’s hard to go anywhere on the farm without being followed by a menagerie of different animals. We walk by the edge of the dam, where the path is soft pine needles. The native hoop pines grow tall here and mango trees drip their dark leaves into the water.
The kiwi orchard grows on the other side of the dam. The fruits are already beginning to ripen and should be ready by May. Vines climb and twist around the trellises, shading the path. We stop for a while, imagining the new vegie garden we’ll grow beneath them. On a hill above the trellises, the tropical fruit trees grow. Most of these trees were planted by Julia and Anastasia’s grandparents and parents and now they tend to them themselves.
Today we pick pears and jackfruits. We plan to make pulled jackfruit tacos and jackfruit icecream and later Julia will make a tart with the pears.The trees are slippery with lichen and moss after the rains and the jackfruits hang heavy from their drooping branches. Jackfruit grows native all around South East Asia and does well in our sub tropical climate too. As well as being full of fiber, calcium and vitamin C, the fruit is used in so many different ways. The unripe flesh is often used as a meat substitute and ripe, it can be eaten on its own or in desserts. The husks can be fried up or boiled for a starchy potato taste and even the seeds can be eaten like chestnuts or cooked into a curry.
Anastasia struggles up the slippery trunk, twisting the jackfruit until it falls into our waiting arms. We pick both ripe and under ripe fruits. The ripe fruits are thick and sweet and melony. But I like the unripe jackfruit best. The sap will stick to your hands so that it’s almost impossible to remove. The spiky skin is thick and difficult to cut through. Once the green flesh inside the jackfruit is removed and sliced it still needs to be boiled for almost an hour before it's edible. But the result is something so unique and meaty that it makes it worthwhile.
We walk back to the house, laden with the heavy fruits. The goats stop to chew on some weeds. Pokey gets stuck behind a fence and demands to be carried over. By now the sun is hot and the creek is calling. But first there’s jackfruit tacos to cook.
Pulled Jackfruit Tacos
1 quarter jackfruit
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt and chilli to taste
½ red onion
2 cloves garlic
¼ bunch of coriander
1 cup yoghurt (for a vegan recipe substitute with coconut yoghurt)
½ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped coriander
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Simple Bean chili
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin black beans
1 tin diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 brown onion
1 fresh chilli
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 lime or lemon
1 garlic clove
1. First, coat your hands and knife in coconut oil to avoid the sticky sap. Slice the
jackfruit lengthways into quarters. Remove seeds and save for another dish.
2. Remove pods and stringy flesh (we use both) and roughly slice. We usually slice
all the flesh at this point and freeze the other three quarters
3. Boil the sliced jackfruit you’re using for this dish for 45 minutes to an hour until
it’s stringy and soft
4. Strain and fry for 10 minutes with spices and salt, stirring to make sure it
doesn’t stick to the pan
6. Squeeze lime on top of jackfruit to taste
1. Dice onion and garlic
2. Fry onion, garlic and fresh chilli in large sauce pan
3. Add beans and tomatoes (soaked or tinned beans works and the quantity can be
adjusted depending on how many you’re feeding)
4. Add spices, simmer on medium for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally
5. Mush the beans a little with a potato masher before removing from heat
1. Dice tomatoes, onion, garlic and coriander
2. Mix together in bowl with drizzle of olive oil and salt - if you like it spicy add
1. Scoop ripe avocados into bowl
2. Add sliced garlic, lemon or lime to taste and salt
1. Slice garlic
2. Stir olive oil, lime juice, yoghurt and apple cider vinegar in bowl
3. Add chopped coriander and garlic
4. Add salt to taste
1. Lightly toast soft tacos on frying pan
2. Serve with fresh chilli, chopped coriander, jalapenos and grated cheese