Last weekend saw Making Time exit the gallery and set up shop in the Woolloomooloo Community Garden, a few blocks into the back streets that wind away from million-dollar harbour apartments to everyday public housing, where a few decades ago we might have seen timber yards, sly grog shops and fishing nets laid out to dry for mending. After a rainy morning, the sun came out for another day of semi-chaotic pickling and preserving, this time amongst the shady green leaves of the garden and teenage yelps from the basketball court next door.
Carlyn, one of the gardeners, harvested a bunch of tiny multicoloured carrots and fennels for pickling with rosemary from her rooftop, very pleased that they weren’t pilfered, as much of the produce here is. The garden is open to all, which means gardeners also need to know what to do with syringes when they find them. There is a huge coffee plant towering out of one of the communal plots, and the stinging nettle by the gate is left untouched to disguise the rosemary and ward off casual visitors.
Jacqui, Colonial Gastronomer extraordinaire, showed us how to make a glowing red jelly from roadside lillypillies, again with rosemary as well as green apples for the pectin. It’s a two-day process, involving straining the cooked fruit through layers of muslin overnight, so she had cleverly prepared some ahead. Jacqui likes making slow jams and jellies when she has uni work to do, as a way of de-stressing. We talked about how the palate is culturally constructed, and tasted the results of some old-fashioned processes like ‘bletted medlars’ and hawthorn jam. In the end we used a sprinkling of chia seeds to very quickly thicken up the jelly.
Maryam, Omar and Ali Reza also shared their family’s favourite Persian/Afghan carrot jam recipe, however our assiduous following of the instructions (cook for 3 hours!) led to a strange new invention – desiccated candy carrot worms!
Photos by Tessa Zettel and Ian Hobbs