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I love stone fruit season.  We’re too far north for the best of it  – I’ve learned that it is futile trying to get decent apricots or cherries this far north. But we get good local peaches and plums from within my “100 mile diet” range, with most of the 100 miles vertical, up onto the Northern Tablelands where there is enough chill factor and less fruit flies.

We do have several very early plum varieties that we can pick early enough to beat the fruit flies.  And we have several seedling peach trees that bear beautifully fragrant peaches with a thickish skin, that protects about half of them from fruit fly.  Trouble is, you don’t know which half until you bite into them.

I’ve tried baiting and bagging and netting with some success, but it’s a lot of work. I remember reading a report years ago where someone was bagging out organic gardening by calculating that a tomato cost something like $10 in resources and labour, and I thought, well you’re just growing the wrong type at the wrong time.  My basic garden philosophy is that if you want a garden that yields quality as well as quantity with a viable amount of time spent overall,  you have to go with your climate and environment. For me, that means virtually effortless mangoes, but peaches that are half for me, half for the chooks.

But, the end result of all that is that, this time of year, I have lots of really nice peaches that need to be cut, and I don’t want to make jam because then I’d just eat it and I really don’t need that much sugar. This is our favourite way to use them.

The Recipe:

Cut the peaches in half and stone them.

Put them, skin side down, on an oven tray. If you have a real sweet tooth you can sprinkle with sugar, but I don’t.

Bake in a very low oven for an hour or two until they are semi-dried, like semi-dried tomatoes.  I put them on the bottom shelf of my (not fan forced) oven while it warms up for bread baking, take them out for half an hour while the oven is hot, then put them back in with the oven turned down very low while it cools down.

Blend the semi-dried peaches in a blender or food processor, adding a (very) little butter, oil, or just or water if needed to get a smooth spread.

It will keep for a few days in the fridge, and I imagine would freeze well, but we eat it fresh, spread thickly on toast.

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This is my current favourite breakfast, and the next in the Breakfast Cereal Challenge. The first of the new season apples have just arrived at our local Farmers Market, coming down from the Tablelands (within our 160 km range as the crow flies), and there are still some late season peaches too, so just for a few weeks the seasons overlap.

Living with stand-alone solar power, you become very aware of what an energy guzzler refrigeration is.  Our little, 60 litre, 12 volt electric fridge is the biggest electricity consuming thing in our household, by a long way.  So I hate to think how much power is consumed, and how much greenhouse gas is created, cold storing apples.

One of the benefits of refusing to buy cold-stored apples is that you stop taking humble apples for granted and really appreciate these  first of the season ones.

Apple season is all over by the end of May in my part of the world.  If you live further south, it probably won’t start till next month and though the season is longer, it won’t last into spring.  Apples cold store reasonably well, but who would choose a cold-stored apple when there are fresh, just picked strawberries instead? And conversely, who would choose strawberries imported from USA and treated with methyl bromide, when you can buy fresh, crisp, sweet new season apples?

The Recipe:

Like all the Breakfast Cereal Challenge recipes, this one is simple, fast and healthy enough for a work and school day mornings.

This quantity is the amount I make for me.  You can double it, but don’t try to do too much at once or the fruit will stew.

Chop an apple and a peach into bite sized pieces.

Heat a little macadamia oil or butter in a heavy pan and saute the chopped fruit, along with a handful of  pepitas, a handful of sunflower seeds, and a handful of raw rolled oats.  Sprinkle over a teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook for just a few minutes, stirring gently occasionally, till the fruit starts to caramelise and the seeds toast.

Serve warm with a good dollop of plain, low fat yoghurt.

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Early season peaches are just coming into season here.  I don’t really grow stonefruit – we are smack bang in fruit fly territory and it’s just too much work.  I have a couple of volunteer seedling peach trees though, and although most years the birds, possums, and flying foxes get most of the fruit,  the trees bear so heavily we get some.  All of it is fruit fly stung but good for cooking, or for eating straight from the tree, ideally shared with some chooks who fight over the fruit fly stung parts as I drop them.

There is good stone fruit growing country on the Tablelands though, within my 100 mile zone but only for a short while, so time to make the most of it.

This is an adaption of an adaption of a traditional Italian recipe.  The original original is Sbrisolona, which has a crumbly texture.  Sbrisoletta is a cake-like version invented by a “Nonna” called Rose – you can find that original here.  It was still a bit too sweet and dessert-like and too crumbly for a Muesli Bar Challenge recipe though, so my niece Rosie and I did some experimenting and made it into a lunchbox Sbrisoletta.

This cake is the most gorgeous way to use lots of stonefruit.  It has very little sugar, a bit more butter than the usual but still within the rules, and it is really easy – 12 year old Rosie made this one.  It is an unlikely kind of recipe – several bits don’t seem right – but it works.

The Recipe:

Makes about 12 squares or slices.

For this recipe you need a shallow cake pan that is 21 cm diameter, or (preferably) a similar area in a square or rectangular shape, eg 18.5 cm square, or 14cm by 25 cm rectangle. Grease it with butter and line with greaseproof paper.

Turn your oven on to heat up.

Plump up a tablespoon of sultanas, by pouring just a little boiling water over them.

In the food processor, blend together

  • 4/5 of a cup of wholemeal self raising flour
  • 2/3 of a cup of semolina
  • 4 dessertspoons of brown sugar
  • 125 grams of cold butter, chopped into pieces
  • pinch salt
  • ¾ teaspoon of baking powder

Blend for a minute until it resembles breadcrumbs – like the first stage of making pastry.

Spread two thirds of this mix over the base of your greased, paper-lined cake tin. Don’t press it down – just leave it as a loose crumb.

Over the top of this, sprinkle evenly:

  • 600 grams of  ripe, juicy peaches (about 6 medium peaches) chopped into small bits
  • Your tablespoon of plumped up sultanas (drained)
  • A tablespoon of pine nuts
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Grated zest of a lemon

Spread the rest of the dry mix over this.

Beat together and Pour Over:

  • Half a cup of milk
  • 2 small eggs (or one egg and one egg yolk)

Pour this evenly over the top of the dry mix in the cake pan.  Allow it to soak in for a few minutes. You can sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top as decoration if you like.

Bake in a moderate oven for around 45 minutes until set.

Before You Cut It Up

Cover the warm cake and leave to cool for a few hours or overnight in the cake pan.  If you try to remove it while it is hot, it will be too crumbly.  But  overnight the moisture in it spreads out and it firms up and can be cut up into squares that are robust enough for a lunch box.

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