"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow," said Audrey Hepburn. Whether you have a big backyard, or just enough room to grow some herbs on your balcony, you can still grow food. You will be amazed at how many tomatoes can grow out of one pot. Here are some good reasons to start planting: good on taste, your wallet, clean, chemical- free, healthy, good for the family.
It is critical that we as a nation engage and support the revival of local food production and consumption. As a country, we must place greater emphasis on at least some degree of food sovereignty as a matter of urgent attention. Visit the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries' website at http://www.agriculture.gov.tt/ Read the following about a community in Australia that grows its own food after being fed up with high food prices: https://medium.com/@abcnews/me et-the-street-that-grows-its-ownfood- 41951a9266f7#.bvx4e48ir
In this the 28th instalment of a continuing series, we feature easypeel citrus fruits. Citrus fruits have been cultivated in an ever-widening area since ancient times, with the best-known examples being oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes. Citrus trees hybridize very readily, giving rise to a very extensive range of cultivars.
It is believed, based on molecular studies, that the citron, pummelo, mandarin and papeda were the ancestors of all other citrus species and their varieties, which resulted from breeding or natural hybridization among the parental species.
The easy-peel (or loose skin) group of citrus fruits, as the name implies, refers to those varieties which can be eaten out of hand by just pegging (removing) the skin. In these fruit, the middle layer or mesocarp which is the white, spongy "albedo" or "pith" is reduced, thus creating a space between the outer skin and the flesh.
Also, the inner segments can be easily separated. In this group, there are wide variations and it is still undecided (genetically) whether the origins are from mandarins or tangerines. While tangerines genetically resemble mandarins, the genetics are still not thoroughly studied.
The term is currently applied to any reddish-orange mandarin and in some places, mandarin-like hybrids. The name mandarin is as regal as is this fruit's ancestry. Native to China and north-eastern India, they are one of three original species of citrus, including pummelos and citrons.
All other citrus fruits are genetic combinations of these three as hybrids and mutations, including oranges, which are crosses between mandarins and pummelos. Mandarins are often smaller and flatter than oranges. This fruit has a bright, loose orange skin which is easy to peel. The inner segments are easily separated, with a unique aroma of spice.
There are seeded, seedless and some sour varieties. The mandarin orange is a group of citrus fruits classified Citrus reticulata that includes varieties as satsuma, clemetine, dancy, honey, pixie and tangerines/ portugals, in general. Most are sweeter than other citrus.
Mandarin refers to the colour of this citrus fruit's skin when allowed to fully ripen–bright orange as were the robes worn by the Mandarins who were ancient Chinese officials. Mandarin oranges grow wild in China and have been cultivated in Asia for three millennia. Another reason they bear this name is these fruits were grown originally only for the upper class in the Far East.
Mandarin oranges did not reach Europe and North America until the mid-1800s. The first mandarin oranges commercially exported were shipped from the city of Tangiers in Morocco, becoming tangerines. It seems another variety must have been shipped from Portugal, most likely our name for a variety of this fruit.
It can be confusing. A tangerine or portugal is a type of mandarin orange, but not all mandarin oranges are tangerines or portugals. Tangerines are smaller and less rounded than common oranges. The taste is considered sweeter and stronger than an orange.
A ripe tangerine is firm to slightly soft, heavy for its size, and pebbly-skinned with no deep grooves, as well as orange in colour. The peel is very thin, with very little bitter white mesocarp, which makes them usually easier to peel and to split into segments. All of these traits are also shared by mandarins generally.
The first of two popular easy-peel varieties in the West Indies is ortanique, a natural tangor (cross between and orange and a tangerine) that was discovered in Jamaica.
The name is a combination of "or" for orange, "tan" for tangerine, and "ique" for unique, given its name by H H Cousins, a former director of agriculture. Ortaniques from Jamaica mature to a bright orange colour but in Trinidad, the skin colour remains a dull greenish-yellow.
The other popular one is portugal, very popular in T&T, and comes into season during the latter part of the year–October until around March. Portugal (citrus deliciosa) belongs to one of the species of citrus called the mandarin (citrus reticulata).
Mandarin is the largest and most varied group of edible citrus with portugal, dancy and Mrs Wrights (as in Asa Wright) making up the three most popular types in T&T. Portugal juice is an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and potassium. It is also a natural source of folic acid (Vitamin B9) and vitamin A.
How did the portugal get its name? Did it come via Portugal or is it a derivation of 'pretty girl' as in 'purty gal' which was eventually Trinidadianised to become potigal or pooteegal? Smaller than an ortanique fruit but with the characteristic flat base and peaked stem end, these fruits are truly an easy peel. As fruits mature they turn a bright yellow-orange hue.
Portugal juice, very popular when fruits are in season, is bright orange. The skin of the portugal contains aromatic oils and once the peel is broken, these oils are released into the air and onto your hands.
You cannot miss the strong and unmistakable citrus scent of a portugal being peeled and is certainly not a fruit you might think of sneaking into a room for a discreet snack. Like most citrus fruits, both ortaniques and portugals offer a nutritious package with Vitamin C and minerals, thus making them ideal for children's lunch boxes.
When planting these trees, it is recommended to use grafted plants which should come into bearing by year four. These trees begin to bear while trees are still small but can mature into large trees. Planting on well-drained soil is also recommended since death from foot rot is common.
Here in T&T we tend to gravitate towards fruits and foods that are not local. Estimates are that our food import bill is near TT$5 billion annually, about 85 per cent of our food intake, most of it processed and high in artificial additives and sugar and salt. This series is written in collaboration with Cynthra Persad, retired director of Research, Ministry of Agriculture. For information on acquiring copies of the Crops of T&T charts, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Coconut Mandarin Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mandarin juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
6 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
�2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two
8-inch round cake pans.
�2 In a measuring cup, combine milk, 1/2 cup mandarin juice, oil, beateneggs, and orange zest. Set aside.
�2 Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix in sugar. Makea well in the centre and pour in the milk mixture. Stir until thoroughlycombined.
�2 Add coconut flakes and stir
�2 Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 35minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comesout clean. Allow to cool.
�2 Beat cream cheese, butter ormargarine, orangepeel, and orangejuice until creamy.Beat inconfectioner'ssugar untilblended andsmooth.
�2 Add crushedmandarin.
�2 Frost cake andallow icing set one totwo hours. Refrigerate.
15 oz crushed mandarin oranges
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
Note: If you are using mandarinoranges for garnish, be sure to seta few aside