Jam packed full of fruity flavour

JAM COMPETITION: Agricultural scientist David Peasley and celebrity cook Maggie Beer.
JAM COMPETITION: Agricultural scientist David Peasley and celebrity cook Maggie Beer. Contributed

MODERN consumers are missing out on flavour and nutrition when it comes to eating fruit, according to Tweed Valley agricultural scientist David Peasley.

This is certainly the case with the humble apricot, Mr Peasley said, and he feels so strongly about it that he held the first Tenterfield Heritage Apricot Jam competition recently.

"I want people to enjoy apricots the way they used to be when we were kids," he said.

I've never seen fruit like that before - the size, the colour and the taste - wow!

"The apricots we see on the shelves of the supermarkets are bred for appearance; they have to look good.

"What they taste like is a secondary consideration."

Mr Peasley bought a disused orchard at Tenterfield that had three 130-year-old apricot trees with the variety called "Newcastle".

They were named after the industrial city in the north-east of England and introduced to Australia in the 1880s but had all but died out.

The three remaining trees were nursed back to health by Mr Peasley and wife Sue through pruning and plenty of organic soil conditioners, fertiliser and compost.

"We don't spray for fruit fly, we just hang traps in the trees and apply what we call a splash bait to the trunk," he said.

Their hard work paid off with the Peasleys harvesting 300kg of fruit from the rejuvenated trees.

The jam competition was judged by Maggie Beer, from The Cook and The Chef fame and won by Sunshine Coast school teacher Judy Smith using David's fruit.

Ms Beer said Mrs Smith's jam had the colour, texture and flavour of an old-fashioned jam made in the home kitchen.

"I used to make jam using an old recipe that I had acquired and then tweaked," Mrs Smith said.

"The fruit that (David Peasley) gave us was fantastic. I've never seen fruit like that before - the size, the colour and the taste - wow!"

Mr Peasley has ensured the Newcastle variety will not disappear in Australia as he has successfully reproduced his trees by grafting young shoots from the old trees onto apricot rootstock seedlings he planted beside the old trees.

Topics:  apricots, fruit and veg, horticulture, maggie beer



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