The Lilly Pilly Native Plant
In Australian gardens the Lilly Pilly is quite common in Australian gardens. It is a native rain forest tree but grows well in most parts of Australia - even in the cooler southern areas around Melbourne. It is an ever green with small shiny leaves, which flowers in spring and fruits in early summer.
It is a mid range height tree - or can be pruned to be any shape, or even a hedge, and it has a white flower, but early in summer it is dotted with pink or purple fruit. The fruit are small - but easy to harvest and use in cooking.
The fruit has a small seed inside (actually the seed is big considering the size of the fruit!) and it can easily be propogated. Instructions here suggest it is easy to do - find a ripe fruit, remove the fruit from around the seed, soak it for 24 hours in clean water, and in a few weeks time you should see the seed sprouting.
The flavour of the fruit is unusual - sweet with a hint of pepper, but the fruit is so small it is unlikely to be a commercial proposition. I have read that the flavour is so distinctive that it is used with other fruit to add to the flavour of the original fruit. I think it might go well with apple jelly. (I may try this later.)
I picked the fruit from the home garden, washed and sorted the fruit and covered the fruit with water before boiling it for about half an hour. I let it cool, then pushed it through a sieve, thus removing the skins and seeds from the mix. I added sugar and simmered until it was ready. I sterilize my jars by putting half a cup of water in each, and putting them in the microwave for a couple of minutes until the water is boiling madly. I let them sit until it cools a little, before adding the jelly.
Note - I have found an Australian winery called LillyPilly Wines - but there is no indication that they use the lilly pilly fruit in their wines. Could be very interesting if they did.
I have not seen the jam for sale in our supermarkets - it would be a boutique product and only available from those stores that feature native foods.
Lilly Pilly Jelly Recipe
Pick fruit that is ripe, but not over ripe. Remove stems, and rinse, thoroughly. Put in bowl of water and sort good fruit. Discard damaged fruit. Rinse fruit again, and put in saucepan. Add enough water to cover the fruit, and boil on moderate heat for 30 minutes.
Let cool a little and push through metal sieve to remove seeds, skins etc. Measure the collected mixture. Add one cup of sugar for each cup of liquid fruit.
Put a plate in the refrigerator to keep cool, and when the mixture has boiled for about 30 minutes, add a quarter of a teaspoon to the cold plate and see if it sets. If not return plate to refrigerator, and keep boiling the mixture on the stove.
When the jelly sets quickly on the cold plate, it is ready for putting in jars. Use clean glass jars (smaller ones are better), add half a cup of water to each jar and put in microwave oven for one minute. Carefully remove hot jars from microwave and empty hot water. Pour hot jelly into the jars with care.
Seal. (I like to use the cellophane tops for this.)
(It may be a good idea to keep in the refrigerator.)
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