Saturday, September 13, 2008

Taking in the harvest

We are very, very busy these days. Having discovered just as the berries were coming ripe, that we have and Elderberry in our backyard, , we've been harvesting them daily, and making elderberry jam, elderberry fruit leather, elderberry juice, dried elderberries and frozen elderberries for the elderberry wine my husband and I will make this winter. Just as we've started getting a bit weary of the elderberry thing, our Concord grapes have ripened, so next will be Concord grape raisins, Concord grape juice, frozen Concord grapes for jam that I'll make later, Concord grape fruit leather, etc, etc.

Meanwhile, we've continued to harvest tomatoes. The pineapple tomatoes have continued unabated for weeks, as have the purple Cherokee. Now we're throwing in the San Marzano (a Roma variety) and the yellow pear tomatoes. So far we've harvested more than 40 lb.s of tomatoes. Meanwhile, Cure has been having a wonderful year for tomatoes and our weekly large share has included lots of cherry and heirloom tomatoes. In response, I give away tomatoes, encourage tomato-eating by family, and eat tomatoes (no kidding) at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never in my life had the opportunity to eat all the heirloom tomatoes I could possibly want for weeks on end, and I admit this is tomato heaven. Realizing though that we still have too many tomatoes and that we are going to miss then very much when they're done, I started experimenting with drying them in the oven a few days ago. The resulting dried tomatoes taste amazing- very sweet and tasty. They were so good in fact, that we decided to spring for a food dehydrator yesterday and will be drying tomatoes as fast as we can for as long as it takes.
Other projects in brief (I have to keep up putting up food in the kitchen...)
-I'm building a greenhouse frame to go over raised beds #3 and #4. Am about 1/2 of the way done with this.
-Digging out a section in the greenhouse, into which I will sink a plastic trash can that will have inside it a metal trash can with burlap bags for insulation between it and the plastic can. The lids will have insulation between them. This is to be my little root cellar! This is very exciting except for the digging part (that's about 1/2 done too). By the way, we needed the plastic trash can to keep out the water so the metal trash can doesn't rust out. We needed the metal trash can to keep the voles out of the food. Having the cellar in the greenhouse helps keep the cellar from freezing.
-Harvesting of potatoes (5 lb.s today), celeriac this week.
-Ongoing (daily) harvest of dry beans (scarlet runner, "trail of tears") , onions, beets, chard, New Zealand spinach, kale (several types) and amaranth. I get hungry, I go out and look around....
-Feeding chickens and ducks at Cure two times a week. This is particularly nice right now as the flock has really started to lay and we now receive eggs in trade for our labor. We've discovered how lovely duck eggs are...
-I continue to come help out on Thursday mornings at Cure. This is another source of food as we receive a bag of what's available in thanks for our efforts. It's getting pretty muddy now and I've finally waxed up all my shoes so I don't get wet feet. How not to get wet pants is another problem.
-New cooking skills include the food drying as well as first experiments with lactic fermentation. Although the pickled vegi.s are salty and I have to avoid salt, I can have these as a condiment in small portions and that's the intended use anyway. I'm very interested in figuring out how to make yogurt in quantities the family can use as yogurt is easy to make. I'm also interested in learning some cheese-making as this family loves cheese and we have no control over the milk used in the cheese we buy and the price is also going up. These activities will have to take a back seat to the greenhouse for the moment!

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