COVID-19 Update: For the past couple of months, we have all been busy Isolation Baking, trying out new recipes or re-visiting old ones. As I was lucky enough to be offered several kilograms of Davidson’s Plums, I decided to revisit the recipe I posted in 2012, update it a bit and repost. So here it is …
The summer after I moved to my new house I was excited to discover a mature Davidson’s Plum tree at the back of the property. I was excited for two reasons. Firstly it seems that neither bats nor birds are attracted to the fruit, and secondly and very conveniently the fruit drops when ripe and all you have to do is pick it up. I placed some weed mat under the tree to stop the fallen fruit rolling away into the undergrowth, but I missed some and now have several small trees growing around the base.
Baby Davidson’s Plum trees
Second batch needed pectin
Jam jars ready to be sterilized
On the stove top
Plums on the tree
Davidson’s Plum fruit and jam are becoming more readily available, and can be found in some gourmet and “bush tucker”stores if you don’t want to wait the 4-5 years for your tree to fruit. I have a Davidsonia jerseyana– which is native to the sub-tropical rain forests of Northern New South Wales. The fruit of this tree is extremely tart and only the very brave would attempt to eat it raw. If you can eat a lemon, you could probably cope with a Davidson’s Plum! It also has 100 times the Vitamin C found in oranges.
It’s very low in pectin so if you want to make a nice thick jam you’ll need to add some. Rather than add the commercial stuff, I experimented with green apples. My recipe Davidson’s Plum Jam works quite well and the resulting jam has a tangy/sweet taste which goes particularly well with toasted macadamia and fruit bread from Bellingen’s Hearthfire Bakery
I’d love to be able to say that eating “home grown” Sandpaper figs was a delicious bush tucker foodie experience … but sadly, it wasn’t. Not that they weren’t interesting – slightly sweet and fibrous with a definite hairy mouthfeel (maybe I should have peeled them?). And I’d certainly eat them if I was lost in the bush and waiting for a chopper to respond to my distress call … But I’m happy to leave them for the birds to enjoy.
They are also quite photogenic, both in their natural state in the bush and on the top of an Instagram-like breakfast bowl. OK – so I couldn’t help myself. But without the tweezers or the patience, my effort is definitely “Not Quite Instagram”.
Initially, I thought I had two types of Sandpaper figs in the garden. One, a slightly scruffy looking shrub with small figs which turned a dark purply black when ripe,
Female Sandpaper fig?
Female Sandpaper figs?
Love the furry halo
and the other a medium sized tree with attractive bark and fruit which grows on the trunk. The fruit stays green and never seems to ripen.
Male Sandpaper fig?
Male Sandpaper figs?
Male Sandpaper fig?
Both appear to be Ficus coronata, so it’s possible that the tree is male and the shrub is female. As they are separated by about forty metres, you might think that this would pose a problem … but no, they are pollinated by a fig wasp. Clever.
Traditionally, aboriginals use the fig leaves to polish their wooden implements, and I can well imagine this working, as a handful of leaves rubbed on your skin would probably remove more than just the dead cells. A case of extreme exfoliation.
This plant is definitely NOT a weed in my book, you can eat the fruit, polish your skin or your boomerang, make rope out of the inner bark, use the latex to heal wounds, and sit in its shade and enjoy the parade of visiting native birds. It can pop up anywhere it likes in my garden …