The latin name for the Lilly Pilly is Syzygium Smithii. It can grow up to 10 metres plus around the streets of Port Melbourne and can be found in a few spots, near the old Golden Fleece Hotel in Montague and Buckhurst Sts, South Melbourne and in Plummer St Port Melbourne, just to name a couple of spots. The tree was far more common in these parts, but in recent times it has been slowly removed as a street tree because some people don’t like the fact the fruit drops on the ground and their cars, often leaving a stain. The solution to that problem is to pick the fruit and turn it into the delightful Lilly Pilly Jelly. Sometimes you’ll get two crops in a year, but generally the fruit appear in the cooler months. You might need a step ladder to reach the fruit, so it is a good idea to have someone help you with holding the ladder while you pick the berries. When ripe they are about the size of a cherry.
The character "Lilly Pilly" also appears in the delightful childrens book “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” written and illustrated by author May Gibbs.
Lilly Pilly Jelly (Jam)
1. Rinse the berries and pick over them well to remove any leaves or spoiled berries.
2. Place the berries in saucepan, just covered with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for around 30 minutes, until the berries have lost their colour and the seeds have separated from the pulp.
3. At this point you can make Lilly Pilly Jelly by straining the mixture through a fine muslin - leave the pulp to drain for several hours (or overnight) and don't be tempted to push on the pulp, as this will result in a cloudy jelly.
If you wish to make Lilly Pilly Jam, simply push the pulp through a food mill or sieve, to remove the seeds (it will also remove the skins and much of the flesh).
4. Measure the amount of liquid you have and return it to the pan. Add the same volume of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon per litre of liquid. i.e 1 litre of liquid = 1 kg of sugar + juice of 1 lemon
5. Return the mixture to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce heat to a high simmer for around 30 minutes. Test for setting by spooning a small teaspoonful onto a saucer removed from the freezer. Run your finger through it, it is set it will part like the Red Sea and remain so. If not, continue to simmer until it passes the test.
6. Bottle into hot, sterilised jars. Cover with cellophane lids. Wipe clean and label.
Note: Jars can be sterilised by boiling in water for a few minutes (or a microwave), then transferring to a low oven (120°C) for ten minutes
Port Phillip Mens Shed Association member