It’s citrus season, but, as for all farmers, the Big Wet has made life more challenging for Jane and Jose. After all these years it’s still just those two running the whole show. They have forty acres of organic limes and mandarins, cumquats and mulberries, elderflowers and custard apples, yet Jane says there are days when their sloping terrain is too slippery for them to work on. The rain’s brought everything on early, but that’s included a lot of fruit flies (they sting and eventually rot the fruit) as well as small snails. ‘You just have to wear it as an organic farmer,’ she tells me.
And yet they carry on, their vibrantly green lime cordial, an award-winner, is still selling strongly alongside the elderflower and the mandarin-lime ones; everything squeezed by hand, pressed through muslin. Jane’s been cooking with custard apples, lately using them in muffins, but she says they’re great in curries. Mostly, of course, they’re eaten raw, the creamy white flesh scooped out with a spoon, an instant dessert. They freeze beautifully, she continues – just remove seeds and skins and pop the flesh in the freezer where it remains beautifully white. They’re great in smoothies and ice creams, full of calcium and vitamin C.
Normally she has a copy of her famous flourless orange cake recipe at the markets, but not today. This eternally popular use of citrus is still one of her most faithful, and favourite cakes. For decades I’ve been making a variation; a gorgeously moist, tangy and dairy-free Spanish Citrus Cake. Find Diane Hart’s flourless orange cake recipe on our website: www.mullumfarmersmarket.org.au). But I’m keen to try making custard apple muffins!
Find Rancho’s stall at Mullum Farmers Market every Friday 7–11am and at New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday from 8–11am.