Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Preserving Floyd: Blueberries, Frozen and Dried

We still have several jars of various blueberry products sitting on the shelf from last year, so I'm not canning bloobs this year.  Instead I decided to freeze the majority of the berries I picked since it is quick, easy and frozen blueberries are nearly as versatile as fresh.  I also dried two quarts as an experiment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cooking Floyd: Cabbage Rolls

While this post is filed under "Cooking Floyd", it's also about "Preserving Floyd" as well.  The spring cabbage crop is in.  Bess and K.C., the ladies who sell my herbs, had beautiful heads of cabbage at their farmstand last weekend.  We planted around ten heads in our garden this year and they are ready to go as well.  We planted five of a variety called "Stonehead" and five of a kind called "Golden Cross".  The Golden Cross were supposed to be mature at 40 days from planting which got us all excited to have a cabbage come in that quickly.  Michael and I are here to tell ya it just ain't so.  Both varieties came in at the same time, about 70 days.  But the Golden Cross cabbages are definitely tender and tasty!
I love sauerkraut.  Michael doesn't.  But we both like cabbage rolls and that's how I preserve our cabbage.  It's also supper that day.

Preserving Floyd: Eggers Berries

When June arrives I begin watching the corner of Penn Ave and Rt. 8 for this sign:
In my opinion the sweetest, most flavorful of blueberries, currants, and raspberries are to be found here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Preserving Floyd: Asparagus 2 Ways

Michael put in our asparagus bed this year.  It was much more complicated then I thought it would be.  Previously I'd inherited asparagus beds that came with other houses, or lived near a particularly bountiful patch of wild asparagus and foraged, or received bagfuls from friends with overproducing beds.  After double digging a two foot deep trench, hilling the bottom, placing the asparagus crowns, screening the soil back over the crowns, and doing it all in between downpours, we finally have our own asparagus bed!  Now we only have to wait two years for our first harvest.

In the meantime we buy in what we need to preserve.
This is 17 pounds of "B" grade asparagus from Mike Burton's beds.  What makes it "B" is that it's not cosmetically beautiful like "A" grade asparagus.  It's buds are a little shaggy, there's inconsistency in the diameter of the stalks, there's a slight bit more woodiness to the bottoms of the stalks.  Is it tasty and nutritious?  It sure is!  And it's less than half the price of the pretty "A" grade!  Since the majority of this is going to be canned as soup pretty isn't an issue.  The bonus is, there are always enough stalks verging on "A" grade in there that I can make a few jars of pickled asparagus as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cooking Floyd: Carving Melons

Recently a friend who was catering a wedding rehearsal dinner asked me if I could carve watermelon baskets.  I went one better and carved her a couple of swans.
Simple carved melons like this are very easy to do and I'll walk you through this one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gardening Floyd: The Lower 40

Floyddate 6-6-11: Last fall we bought the 2.5 acres below us that came with a single wide trailer, a very nice chicken coop, an old shed that needs reclaiming, and a large garden area that had been plowed and grown on once and then let go.  We have a young family we're very fond of renting the trailer, we have our laying flock in the chicken coop, and we've started planting the garden.  I'll reclaim the shed later.
The lower 40 garden and the coop

Friday, June 3, 2011

Preserving Floyd: Cherries 4 ways

Yesterday I finished preserving the 20 lbs of cherries Michael and I picked last weekend.  We immediately loaded the dehydrator from top to bottom which yielded 6 cups of dried cherries.  I'm not sure how much fresh weight we put in, we just loaded all 9 screens full of pitted cherries.  Dehydrating cherries is easy: wash, pit, place on screen.  Dehydrate at 135F for approximately 8 hours.

I then proceeded to pit the rest of the cherries in preparation for preserving.  Since I'm not doing anything this year that requires pretty whole pitted cherries, I opted for speed and just tore the cherries open far enough to pop the seed out.  Unless you wear gloves (and I don't) you might as well be resigned to the fact that your hands and nails are gonna stain and look gnarly for a day or two.  I ended up with two gallon jars of pitted cherries.
With the pitted cherries I made Black Forest Preserves, Cherry Vanilla Pie Filling, and Smokey Chipotle Cherries.