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By Sarah Elmusrati

This month is the last month of harvest so it's your last chance to stock up and freeze or preserve some of your favorite summer fruit and vegetables.


Eat what's fresh

Great to eat this month are:  apples, aubergines (eggplant), broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, citrus fruits, dates, leeks, lettuce, okra, olives, pomegranates, pumpkins, rocket (arugula), spinach, swiss chards, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

 

Try Something New

Pomegranates or Rumman

In season this month are Pomegranates or Rumman. Originating from Persia and the Himalayas, this was one of the first plants to be cultivated and quickly spread west through the Mediterranean and east towards China.  It has been considered a symbol of fertility in ancient cultures and is believed to be a fruit descended from the gardens of Eden in Islam. 

The tough spherical structure of the pomegranate preserves the arils (the fleshy kernels that are considered the fruit) for up to six months, and is chockfull of nutrients. One glass of pure pomegranate juice has up to four times more antioxidant power than an equivalent of green tea. It is also made into grenadine, a thick sweet syrup, used to make a celebratory drink when diluted with water. Libyans also use grenadine to make granita, a slushy pomegranate iced drink (similar to an American slurpee) which you can find at most cafes around Tripoli.  Whole arils are great to add to green or fruit salads, or simply eaten as is.

 

Try a Local Recipe

Zaytoun Akhdar M'khalal: Preserved Green Olives

Olives are another super fruit loaded with mono-saturated fats (good fat), iron and vitamin E, making it ideal for skin care and protection from heart disease. Fresh green olives cannot be eaten straight from the tree as they are extremely tough and bitter.  Olives are also pressed into olive oil, the extra-virgin variety meaning that it is a first press.  It is best to buy cold-pressed oil, and many such presses can still be found across Libya, especially in Tarhuna,  where you can take your own harvest of olives to press, or buy oil straight from the machine. 

 

Preparation:  2-4 weeks

Ingredients:

Olives

Water

Salt

Vinegar

Lemons

Whole coriander seeds

Whole black pepper

 

Wash the olives well with cold running water and remove any stems and heavily bruised olives. 

Olives need to be soaked to extract the bitter juices. You may make a slit in each olive to speed up this process. Olives can be soaked in three ways:

1.Most popular method in Libya, soak in water at room temperature, replacing water daily. This may take several weeks.

2.Soak in boiling water, replacing water daily. The heat speeds up the extraction process, cutting up to a week off the schedule.

3.Soak in a brine solution (2-4 tablespoons of sea salt per liter of water), again replacing the brine daily.  Like heat the salt reduces the soaking time by up to half.

 

Test the bitterness level from time to time by tasting the olives.  When they have reached a pleasant taste you may now pickle the olives.

To make the pickling solution boil as much water as required for five minutes then allow to cool for a few minutes. Add an equal amount of vinegar (or half vinegar half lemon juice) and dissolve 1/4 cup of salt for every liter of solution.  The salt is vital as it acts as a preservative preventing any bacterial growth.

Boil clean glass jars and lids to sterilize before adding the olives.  Fill jars with olives. Add a tablespoon of coriander and another of black pepper to each jar. Cover with pickling juice. You may top with half a lemon, open end facing down to keep the olives under water, or seal with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Close jars tightly with lids.

Allow to pickle for one week before use. If you find the olives too salty soak in fresh water for a couple of hours before serving.

Olives preserved this way will keep for 4-5 months at room temperature or up to a year in the fridge.




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Published Oct 2010

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