Blog

Food storage, Fruit

Applesauce – Fall is Coming!

The beautiful basket of apples are all drops from a neighbors MacIntosh apple tree. We turned it into 5 quarts of applesauce. This was just a bit of the applesauce we will make for the year, all from local apples that our neighbors either don’t want or use, or that we barter for. This year we are hoping to make 100 quarts of applesauce as we didn’t get any blueberries, our usual spot was barren this year, and only five quarts of peaches.

1DDE36C7-15FB-4F66-A6B9-E0D0A0E2E6AE
I chopped up the apples, removing bad spots, I left the peels on as we will use a special grinder to separate the stems and peels from the sauce, this saves a lot of time.

I added a little water and cooked the apples covered until they were quite soft. The softened apples then go in the grinder attachment, separating the peels and stems from the yumminess.

557CC32D-3CC1-4D42-90D8-D4899F6E4775
While I was making applesauce, our oldest son, made apple crisp for breakfast the next day. He was using an apple peeler corer to save time and because it is fun to use.

 

FEFCA124-9AB2-4D3F-846C-572B4566FFE2
This is our set up for small batches of sauce with an attachment to our Kitchen Aid Mixer. We have a meat grinder with a special attachment for our large batches which is even faster then this. Cooked apples go in the top, sauce comes out into the yellow bowl and the skin comes out into the silver bowl.

 

5F468FBD-C173-4720-B3F8-FB4CA4C6E676
A view from above. I put all the waste in twice, by the time we were done I only had about a cup and a half of waste from the cooked apples. I had taken out bad spots and fed them to the chickens and most of the stems came out too, the chickens were thrilled! Leaving the skins on makes the sauce a little bit pink, which looks pretty on the table and in the jars.

I am working on my second batch of applesauce from our second pickup of dropped apples tonight and tomorrow, almost two bushels that the little and I picked up. The drops that were not appropriate to make into sauce we turned into pork, yummy, yummy!

Eat the ugly fruits and veggies is our motto. No need to waste good food that is covered with an ugly outside just because it looks funny. Make it into something pretty, like applesauce!

Farming, Fruit, Vegetables

What’s growing in the garden

This is a little update on our garden and what is growing right now.

We haven’t had a lot of success with fruit this year, only 5 quarts of canned peaches, no blueberries and no apples, apricots or plums on our trees this year, so I was thrilled that our Musk Melons actually grew to an edible size this year and thrived! We have eaten one delicious, juicy melon so far and there are several more on the way! So exciting!

Also exciting our delicious ever bearing raspberries, this variety, that I cannot remember the name of is sooooo sweet. My friend Kaite said it is one of the sweetest raspberries she has had in a long time.

 

Our peppers are exploding with yellow, orange, green, purple and jalapeno peppers galore! Some will get chopped and put in the freezer for stirfries and some will go in tomato sauce.

Our basil is going like crazy even though we had some wet and humid weather. I have dried quite a bit of it for gifts and use during the winter. I have also frozen quite a bit of it with garlic, but not cheese and nuts. This is my first year with really booming basil plants. I have been very excited about this success.

1499FC53-E7EE-426C-A539-C6CC545FB8D1

 

Our weedy beets. They are growing great, even without a lot of attention.

279edcf5-d971-45d9-b1e8-542a16891506.jpeg

I was trying to avoid my winter squash plants growing all over the garden this year. I managed to get help with one trellis for our squash, I needed at least 4. I love how well it seems to be working in this section. It has kept many of the pumpkins contained and I can’t wait to see how they look when they turn orange. It will be so pretty. Next year more trellis before these beautiful plants take over the garden!

10A41E9F-A468-4DE1-A66E-318DFB5DA717

What I was hoping to avoid was the squash taking over the overgrown raspberries so I could fix that bed how I wanted it this fall, hahaha. Clearly not going to happen right now!

D706EA77-BA0C-4EEA-A91A-F3B8DBE449EA
As you can see, the squash is temporarily taking over the raspberry bed and the pathways in the garden at the moment. My trellis idea would have worked really well if I had gotten the rest of it up in time. It is at least a two person operation to get it up and it wasn’t a priority this year. It will be next year to keep me sane!

We have been eating a lot of summer squash this summer. I thought I had one zucchini plant and three summer squash. It turned out I had four summer squash plants and no zucchini. I did end up with a volunteer zucchini plant in the beans. We got one zucchini on it. Better then nothing I say!

 

I have swiss chard and kale up the wazoo, but my salad greens didn’t come up this time, too hot perhaps?

36C4E25F-1C79-4357-AD8B-C2A09CF476BF

One of my favorite garden surprises was the tomatillo plant that was gorgeous, but not producing. I have it on a large trellis and thought perhaps it needed a buddy to make fruit. The other day we were in the garden and noticed that there are some fruits growing! It is just a late producer! So strange, but so exciting, I can’t wait for tomatillos to make salsa!

f1c7a5ce-9f90-45f9-9e4c-073badf968c9.jpeg

Our carrots, planted very late are looking good, it has been a struggle to keep the children from eating them all now!

b35f2512-f5fd-4563-8a8c-425c9c688680.jpeg

We also have cucumbers, yummy! Number 2 likes them straight from the vine and Number 3 only likes pickled cucumbers, Number 1 doesn’t care for them at all, so it is a mixed bag around here!

23829f2e-76c8-4b8b-8015-42926c4ef8f0.jpeg

Tomatoes are starting to come in like crazy, yeah for tomato sauce, ketchup and salsa!

 

Our leeks are looking well too!

51D23207-8EA0-4518-BFDA-3CE0E53F22A8

Sweet potato vines are growing well, the true test will be when we dig them up to see if we have vole damage like last year. These are the vines I started this year, so I am excited to see how they produce!

7B9CA4B2-9A0D-4988-AA29-61572D69FE5F

Our garden this year has been late, but beautiful, some things have been disappointing and others have been exciting and unexpected.

Every year on a farm brings new challenges, we learn from them and hope we are able to improve our knowledge for the next year. We are always learning and always up for the challenge even though it can be exhausting!

Food storage, Fruit

Peaches

Our peaches were a big disappointment this year. Last year I canned 28 quarts of peaches, plus all that we ate during the season. This year I canned 5 quarts of peaches.

We had some red squirrels that were stealing 10 to 12 peaches a day, biting them, eating a bit and leaving them on the ground. So frustrating to see all the waste on the ground. I threw them to the chickens so they weren’t a total waste, but we couldn’t eat them. When most of the peaches seemed pretty ripe I ended up picking everything except a few that were very green and calling it a day just to keep the squirrels from eating anymore. They were even taking bites out of some on the tree, testing for ripeness I assume.

 

This is a huge blow to our pantry and very sad. We have labeled each jar to be used for someone’s birthday as we make pies for birthdays and peach pie is a favorite all around. The pies will be small, I usually use two quarts per pie, instead we will have only one.

My boys are really good helpers during canning time. With peaches they help slip the skins and cut them up, removing the pit.

b5974dee-f3d4-4f73-b513-481cd40c4872.jpeg
Peaches in boiling water to loosen the skins, notice the slightly green peach on the lower left, that peach will not peal easily as it isn’t quite ripe.
6B1E8D5C-B0A8-4737-970A-797E9EC22231
Peaches put in ice water after boiling water, the skins will pop right off as long as the peaches are ripe.
96AAC755-E810-47ED-B764-20261F60E2ED
Skinned peaches, aren’t they so pretty! I just love to see them!
8E63556B-4BD5-4555-9D12-34E9AD931A61
We remove the pit when we are canning, but you can can them pit in as well.
408C17DF-A308-4A24-8CF9-85CA4C225380
One of our five cans of peaches. So pretty. We can them in there own juice with a little bit of lemon juice and I added a touch of sugar this time.

Although we are sad that we won’t have more peaches to eat throughout the winter and spring, we are grateful for the fruit we do have and plan to enjoy these immensely on our birthdays!

Uncategorized

Harvest

What’s in the garden?

This morning I harvested tomatoes, peaches, green beans, summer squash, swiss chard, cukes and a few peas. I also ate a couple raspberries, don’t tell the children, I ate them myself. So yummy.

bf881a35-81b6-48b3-be36-20a9f38e632e-e1534184665844.jpeg
Green Beans

 

5c2868e4-1c5a-4681-b77b-dcd2c57e0567-e1534184760345.jpeg
Swiss Chard, yummy!

 

I think River is tired of eating summer squash, poor guy, I have sauteed it, made it into fritters and shreaded it for the freezer this winter. Only one of the children likes it so the three of us end up eating a lot of it! Everyone did try the fritters too, that was a win, just more work then sauteing it.

Our peach tree is not as prolific as last year, I am a little worried about our fruit harvest as the blueberries in the field we usually harvest were non existent, our plums, apple and apricot trees did not produce fruit and our blueberries only have a few berries as did the raspberries and the mulberries. A tricky situation. Our pears were mostly eaten by crows so I didn’t get any of them dried this year.

Hopefully our neighborhood apples will be awesome this year!

What’s for Breakfast

What’s for Breakfast: Black Trumpets

Our friend Matt from Mahalo Farm forged these beautiful black trumpet mushrooms in the local forest. He shared some with us, thank you Matt!

2b36c99c-a817-4649-abd8-0c2f13dd497a-e1534183684280.jpeg
Black Trumpets, so pretty and unique. They have a lovely flavor.

I was supposed to make them for dinner the night before in a cream sauce with pasta, but I forgot so I made them for breakfast, still in a cream sauce, soooooo good!

E1644180-C665-4258-BF1D-067F152E4296
I added garlic and cream then a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. Delicious!

I served them with fried eggs, home fried potatoes and summer squash, yummy!

71AB506C-85FE-460F-8020-692620154853
Home fries, Summer Squash sauteed with swiss chard and onions and black trumpet mushrooms with a garlic cream sauce.

We try to eat from the farm as often as possible. This meal was all from the farm, except the mushrooms, cream and spices. I love when I can say that!

 

Farming, Food storage, Vegetables

Blight

Things have been really busy on the farm, it is amazing how many things need to be done at the same time! Our most recent adventure in farming involves a potato blight. My research has led to the conclusion that this blight is related to the Irish Potato Blight that led to the Irish immigrants coming to America. Potato blight is caused by a fungus called Phytophthora Infestans.  Humid weather plays a huge part in the blight taking hold of potatoes, and the last few weeks have had several days of over 90% humidity so I am not surprised that we have gotten blighted. Blight is carried through the air so unless your crop is completely surrounded and covered to keep out any breeze, you are lucky to avoid the blight. We planted 70 pounds of potatoes in a new field this year and I was hoping we could avoid the blight here since no crops had been grown recently. No such luck. We got it bad. I spent three of our hottest, humid mornings last week removing all the potato stalks from our plants and putting them in trash bags so we can hopefully preserve the potatoes in the ground.

I had noticed some brown on our plants and deluded myself into thinking it was just from the potato bugs that were showing up. No such luck, I dug some potatoes, they tasted great by the way, then I noticed a couple of rotten potatoes in our storage bin. Hmmmm. they had been perfectly good when I dug them up, then I realized that some of our stalks were looking soft and squishy, aha, the blight. Awesome.

Some people burn the stalks as they start to show signs of blight. We don’t have the equipment to do this so I cut them and threw them away. What I have read is to keep the potatoes in the ground for three weeks to try to prevent the blight from taking a hold of the actual potatoes. Cross your fingers, I am certainly crossing mine!

I have had late blight on my tomatoes for several years and I have managed to control it and still keep a crop by removing any infected leaves, keeping vines off the ground and mulching with either plastic or hay. I spent Saturday removing blighted tomato vines from the plants and throwing them away. I also trimmed back a lot of the lower vines to keep them away from splash back off the ground. My tomatoes are just starting to ripen this year so I am desperate to keep it from taking hold which means a trip to the tomatoes every day to remove anything suspicious looking.

Ahhhh, I dream of really cold weather this winter. Be gone blight and ticks!

Life

Little Local Adventures: Merrymeeting Fields

My mom and Grandmother took the older boys to Acadia for four days, lucky boys, so we only had #3 at home. I took the opportunity to take him on a few local hikes. We had our niece dog, Lucy, here as well, she is the best dog, we love to have her!

There is only parking for a few vehicles here unless you park on the road, we were the only people here when we went, so not a problem.

20180720_112058.jpg
#3 loves to play in the sand and by the water, getting in the water is not on his list of priorities!

Merrymeeting Fields paths take you right down to Merrymeeting bay which is beautiful, we saw a group of kayakers paddling back from Swan Island where they had spent the night. They were from Chop Point Camp close by.

Lucy went right for the water of course, and #3 was thrilled to throw rocks in the water, boy and dog had a blast awww, cousin adventures, so fun.

20180720_112122
Niece dog Lucy, such a good girl!

It is very different to have only one little guy with me, normally I have at least two and occasionally one or two more on our adventures. #3 was asking where all the other people were. Perhaps I was not company enough for him? Poor kiddo.