Posts Tagged ‘paddock to plate’
At Bean HQ we have a few addictions – John Deere, vegetables and coffee.
Our love affair with caffeine hit a high soon after our sons arrived. During those years of sleep deprivation coffee was often the only thing that kept us awake and sane.
We decided if we were going to be drinking a lot of coffee it may as well be the good stuff.
So we bought our first coffee machine … a Sunbeam Cafe Series. Much research went into the purchase and finally we settled on the Sunbeam because it was easy to use and had been designed by a barista. Oh and it was a lot cheaper than the fancy automated and Italian machines.
Our research of course unearthed an underworld of fellow addicts and in online forums I discovered that you want FULL CONTROL of the coffee making process, which is another reason the automated machines are a no-no … aside from the horror price tag.
The Sunbeam and the Gormans formed a close and deep relationship. She was there for us every morning as we struggled to open our eyes and meet a new day of nappies, vomit, tantrums and work.
In striving to brew the perfect shot I discovered this wonderful website, Coffee Snobs, where fellow addicts meet and share information about all things coffee.
Over those years we also experimented with different beans and grinds.
What struck me was how hard it was (impossible?) to source Australian beans. I could choose a Nigerian blend, a gorgeous Venezuelan mix … but nothing from Australia.
About a year ago we upgraded our machine to a larger, more powerful but stroppier Italian machine, the La Nuova Era.
It’s a piece of art on our bench tops but in true Italian fashion she’s fiesty and a little unreliable. But when she’s good she’s great.
Mr Bean still bemoans the loss of the Sunbeam. He does prefer the simple things in life.
My search for Australian beans continued and recently I discovered father and daughter coffee producers Bruno and Maria Malorberti.
They’re located on the Atherton Tableland in far north QLD and market their coffee under the NQ Gold Brand.
They grow Arabica beans and roast them on farm, using a 100-year-old Italian roasting machine.
Bruno is 86 and first came to Australia in 1953. He left his wife and young daughter behind in Italy while he tried to establish a future for them in Australia. Five years later they joined him in Queensland, where he was farming tobacco.
Through hardwork and perserverance Bruno was able to buy his own farm and that’s where he and Maria produce their coffee today.
Maria hopes to find a buyer for the business soon so her father can take a well-deserved break. You can buy the Maolberti’s coffee online
Read on for Maria’s explanation of the paddock to plunger process of growing great coffee.
The health world moves in fads. Some fade, some are enduring.
Baby wheat looks like it’s here to stay. You probably know it as wheatgrass. It’s generally sold by the shot (it’s not the best tasting thing) and is said to do excellent things for your immune system.
That’s because the new shoot of wheat is filled with goodies such as chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and enzymes. But chlorophyll makes up about 70 per cent of the grass – hence the green colour.
The western consumption of wheatgrass started in the 1930s as a result of experiments conducted by American nutritionist Charles Schnabel. He used fresh cut grass to nurse dying hens back to health. The hens recovered and produced eggs at a higher rate than the healthy hens.
I recently interviewed Jan Struthers of Wheatgrass Noosa for my Ask a Farmer Feature in the Sunday Mail. She started juicing wheat when she became sick with streptococcus and lupus. At the time wheatgrass was hard to source so she used her training in horticulture and landscape design to grow it and now supplies wheatgrass for both medicinal purposes and also to brides looking for a sleek, modern table centrepiece.
Little do they realise it’s also a Persian tradition to have a vase of wheatgrass on the wedding table as it’s an ancient symbol for fertility.
The best way to consume wheatgrass and reap the benefits is to juice it using a juicer which ‘presses’ the ingredients. Jan sells trays of wheatgrass for $13 each.
This is how she grows it.
If you’ve watched a TV cooking show lately (who hasn’t) then you probably know a little bit about Verjuice.
It’s a favourite with Maggie Beer. The fellows on Masterchef are partial to a drop, as are the contestants on MKR.
But what is it?
I have a bottle in my cupboard. The label says can be used as a substitute for lemon in dressings and wine in cooking.
I recently interviewed Vinegar and Verjuice producer, Ian Henderson from Lirah Vinegar at Ballandean.
He used to work in the wine industry but now his sole focus is on producing grapes for vinegar and verjuice. He makes a lot of it, to bottle under his own label and for other companies to use in their own products.
Ian jokes that he deals acid. That’s essentially what vinegar is. But what is verjuice?
Ian says it’s grape juice, not vinegar and not wine. It’s not alcoholic, it’s just made from really, really unripe grapes. Ian picks his grapes when they’re still hard. He says the difference between good verjuice and bad is the quality of the grapes
Apparently some companies use their second-grade grapes for their verjuice, whereas Ian says he will only use first-class fruit in his.
He stepped me through how to make vinegar and he told me how to tell a good vinegar from bad. Apparently if vinegar smells or tastes dirty or like fungus something is wrong. Also if it doesn’t taste like fruit it’s not great. Nor should it smell like nail polish remover.
Read on for Ian’s explanation of how he makes vinegar.
Farmers are often portrayed as being a few stubbies short of a six pack. Slow, bumpkins, whingers … and a host of other stereotypes. I recently interviewed a Queensland apple producer who puts paid to such criticism. He’s a man who doesn’t fit any of those stereotypes.
His name is Will Thompson and he runs Lerinda Apples at Stanthorpe. Will’s journey to apple growing hasn’t been conventional. He started his working life as a Navy clearance diver, completed a Masters of Business and spent many years managing some of Queensland’s leading tropical resorts.
Now he draws on his business and navy training to run a large apple production business as that – a business. He won’t listen to criticism about Australian famers not being cutting edge … he says the country’s leading food producers have adopted world’s best practice and that he analyses everything that happens in his operation and is constantly searching for efficiencies and better ways to function.
But he admits the time is coming when farmers will be unable to find more cost-effective ways of operating and at that point he says consumers will have to pay extra for fresh, high-quality Australian-grown food.
He told me about a recent trip to the supermarket where he overheard a couple complaining about the price of potatoes.
Will asked them: ‘Do you know how much it costs to get them to the store?’”
“They said, ‘Yes but if they were imported we’d get them cheaper.’
“Everyone wants to put their hand out for pay rises but no one wants to pay any extra for food. Our costs are going up and our margins are getting smaller.”
Will says the apple industry is facing the threat of cheap Chinese imports. Last season Chinese Pink Lady apples were selling for one-third the price of Australian fruit. Which begs the question – how is it so?
Are Australian consumers content to buy cheap fruit knowing that it may have been grown using cheap labour and chemicals banned from use in Australia? And in doing so supporting an industry which will threaten the future of Australian businesses and jobs? Only time will tell …
Ever wondered what happens to an apple before it reaches your home? Read on to find out.
Gerard Puglisi and his wife Terese are shareholders in Daintree Estates, a relatively new company that produces the world’s first Australian single-origin cocoa beans and chocolate.
The company has farmers as shareholders and was formed after a five-year trial by the DPI and Cadburys to try growing cocoa in Australia.
The trial selected sites that were within 18degrees of the equator. Two fo the five sites were deemed to be suitable – Port Douglas was one of them.
That’s where Gerard grows his cocoa, which looks like big rugby balls when it’s growing on the tree. The process to get it from raw product to chocolate is pretty involved and labour intensive which is probably why Cadbury decided not to proceed beyond the trial.
Cocoa has historically been grown in West Africa, but World Vision says the industry relies on forced child and trafficked labour. So next time there’s a choice between cheap imported chocolate and the Aussie-made stuff … the decision should be more than about price. To be sure you’re not supporting these unethical practices you should look for chocolate that has been independently certified to have been ethically grown and harvested.
I wrote about Daintree Estates last week for the Courier Mail’s Ask a Farmer page (see it every Saturday in the LIFE section).
This is a recap of the paddock to plate process that takes cocoa from the tree and into a block of delicious chocolate.