Yo­ghurt ice blocks

NZ Lifestyle Block - - FARMHOUSE KITCHEN -

I MAKE MY OWN yo­ghurt us­ing pas­teurised milk and ei­ther a yo­ghurt starter or a ta­ble­spoon of bought su­per­mar­ket yo­ghurt, then cul­ture it in a yo­gotherm. Some­times re-cul­tured yo­ghurt can be a bit thin and a bit sour, par­tic­u­larly for chil­dren, as the tex­ture de­pends on the work­ing bac­te­ria and the com­po­si­tion of the milk. I find the flavour is pretty won­der­ful for my taste­buds, mak­ing a great smoothie with the ad­di­tion of fruit, but even bet­ter ice blocks.

Once upon a time, in the good old days, every­one wanted to get their hands on some of these tough knob­bly fruit. Quinces were a much sought-af­ter del­i­cacy, orig­i­nat­ing in Turkey, but you've al­ways had to be­lieve in a lit­tle bit of magic to truly dis­cover their se­cret.

Un­for­tu­nately the hum­ble quince seems to have gone out of fash­ion, fallen from the tree as it were, to be usurped by its much tastier and ver­sa­tile cousins, ap­ples and pears.

But hang on a minute. Be­fore you give up and turn the page to see what Mur­ray Grim­wood has to say this month about the state of the world, give quinces another chance. All it takes is a lit­tle heat and you will start to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate why the Greeks re­garded the quince as a sym­bol of fer­til­ity and ded­i­cated it to the god­dess, Aphrodite.

The ex­quis­ite fra­grance of the fruit is the pri­mary rea­son that it was cel­e­brated in this way. Leave just one quince in a fruit bowl or on a win­dowsill, and it won't be long be­fore you no­tice a del­i­cate fra­grance of vanilla, cit­rus, and ap­ple waft­ing into your kitchen. For­tu­nately when you cook quinces, they re­tain their de­light­ful fra­grance but the best is yet to come.

The real alchemy is all about colour; cook quinces and you’ll watch the yel­lowy-white flesh turn ei­ther a glo­ri­ous deep rosy pink or a muted sun­set or­ange. Doesn’t that make you just want to race out and find a tree and stew up a few?

I am lucky to have a gen­er­ous friend who has a beau­ti­ful old quince tree. Ev­ery year, Steve faith­fully con­tacts me to see if I want any, and I say yes please! He gets a jar or two of jam out of the deal so it works both ways.

Quinces are of­ten to be found on an­cient, gnarly­branched trees in a ne­glected or de­serted or­chard as they’re not pop­u­lar in mod­ern gar­dens. One tree that I rou­tinely check ev­ery year is in a horse pad­dock way out in the mid­dle of nowhere on the back road from Motueka to Nel­son. The horses make a half-hearted at­tempt at eat­ing the ones that fall on their side of the fence, and the bees and wasps help out, but on the road­side there are al­ways plenty just go­ing to waste un­til some­one like me comes along and picks them up.

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