Our writers group planned an afternoon of writing. The Lilly Pilly tree by the letterbox bore its fruits prolifically. Last year I watched the fruit fall wistfully thinking it a shame. Just this morning I watched my dog nibbling gingerly at the fruit. She is a Labrador. She is fond of apples, plums and Lilly Pillies.
Too distracted to google it, I kept wondering if the fruit was edible or were those bright coloured berries poisonous? I erred on the side of poisonous.
Not really wanting to know, justified my dislike for the tree and its annual mess on the driveway. Although a lot gardeners loved the foliage, I felt ambivalent. A fellow writer led me out of my ignorance educating me about this wonderful Australian plant. Here is what I found out. Now I feel totally different about the tree. It had a use. I could make fruit jelly!
A Lilly Pilly is a small evergreen tree with bright red new growth and Purple berries about one centimetre round borne in thick clusters. It grows well in a variety of climates from north Queensland to Southern Victoria.
Aboriginal Australians used the fruit as medicine. The fruit has an acidic taste, is high in vitamin C and is packed with antioxidants. The cosmetic industry recognises the exfoliating properties of the Lilly Pilly fruit as the astringent properties of the fruit are reputed to improve the firmness and elasticity of the skin.
Yes, it is edible and delicious. Once the seed is removed raw fruit can be tossed into a fruit salad the tartness, balancing the sweetness of other fruits. Like many unusual fruits including the Feijoa, Lilly Pillies make a very tasty jelly. For those of you who have access to the fruit, here is a recipe to try.
Please share your experience in the comment box at the bottom of the page.
Recipe: Lilly Pilly and Red Rose Jelly
You will need: 2 kg Lilly Pilly fruit, Sugar, water, juice of two lemons. For colour and a subtle flavour I added the petals of five deep red roses to the fruit. The rind of a lime found its way into the pot as well..
Method:Just cover the washed fruit in washed fruit with water
- Boil for one hour until the fruit is soft and pulpy, (add Roses if desired)
- Strain the fruit through a cloth leaving at least an hour. Compost the mush.
- Add one cup of sugar for each cup of liquid
- Add lemon juice and lime peel
- Heat dissolving the sugar, then boil at a medium intensity
- Note when the liquid thickens and is covered by a multitude of thick bubbles, then cook another ten minutes
- Test a small amount on a refrigerated saucer. It should form a blob.
- I found fifty-five minutes of boiling produced a soft spreadable jelly
The jars: Jars need to be clean and dry
- I prefer those with metal lids
- Once the jelly is ready let it rest for five minutes until the bubbles settle
- Decant into jars and close the lids immediately
- Stand jars in warm water keeping the water level below the lids
- Wash and wipe of any spills
- Leave on a bench to cool naturally
- They are vacuum sealed and will last in a pantry for a long time.
I would love to hear ofany similar discoveries that you have made.