Harvest Monday June 26, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Last Friday the remnants of tropical storm Cindy came through and gave us some much needed rain. I’ve been irrigating the garden, but there’s nothing like a good soaking rain to perk things up and we got over an inch all told. I was concerned about cabbages splitting with the moisture, so I cut several heads and brought them in before the rain came. The three in the below photo are Stonehead, and weighed just under six pounds.

Stonehead cabbage

Stonehead cabbage

I harvested another head of Stonehead also in the two pound range. That gave me enough cabbage to make four quart jars of kraut. I made four different versions, including a Salvadorian one I really like called Curtido that added onions, carrots, garlic, oregano and hot pepper flakes. Another one got a Tsukemono treatment with chopped scallions, soy sauce and lemon juice. Then I made a Lemon Dill kraut with dill seeds, lemon juice and garlic that should taste a bit like Kosher dill pickles. And I tried a new one called Pineapple Turmeric kraut that added chopped pineapple to the cabbage and was seasoned with grated ginger and turmeric powder. From left to right in the below photo are the Curtido, Pineapple Turmeric, Tsukemono and Lemon Dill versions, which made almost eight pounds of cabbage disappear quickly! I generally let these ferment for about a week before putting them in the refrigerator.

four krauts

four krauts

I cut one of the flathead K-Y Cross cabbages for general eating. My wife steamed a bit of it one night for a side dish. It is a sweet and flavorful variety, and I usually save it for other things beside fermenting. It weighed in at a bit over three pounds, which is a manageable size for us, enough for several meals for sure. I have another two plants of Late Flat Dutch cabbage still sizing up in the garden, plus a head of Pixie.

K-Y Cross cabbage

K-Y Cross cabbage

I also pulled a few more of the giant Kossak kohlrabies before the rain came. I was concerned some of them might split too, or begin to rot. These four weighed right at 14 pounds after cutting off the leaves. I started a couple of jars of kohlrabi kraut, but there’s still lots of kohlrabi left from this and last week’s harvest.

Kossak kohlrabies and K-Y Cross cabbage

Kossak kohlrabies and K-Y Cross cabbage

The summer squash plants are setting quite heavily. I lined up a bunch of them for a group photo. From top to bottom we have the yellow straightneck Enterprise, Clarimore, Daize white pattypan, Flaminio zucchini and Sunstripe. I’ve been freezing some of it and we’ve been trying to eat the rest of it. It may be time to leave it on neighbors doorsteps soon! I spiralized some of the zucchini last night and served it up with a red marinara sauce made from last year’s tomatoes. The spiralized squash is tasty either raw or slightly cooked, and for the faux pasta dish I cooked it for about two minutes in a pot of salted water before draining and topping with the sauce.

medley of summer squashes

medley of summer squashes

Another thing I did before the rain came was dig the early garlic. I dug all the Turban and Artichoke types, about 100 or so in all. They look to be running smaller than last year, but the skins are all intact which is a good thing. I chose not to irrigate them for fear the weather would turn rainy and the quality would deteriorate. I’d rather have slightly smaller bulbs that keep well than have larger ones that don’t. Simonetti is an artichoke type that always does well for me, and makes nice big bulbs that are great for roasting whole.

Simonetti garlic

Simonetti garlic

I cut another big head of broccoli last week, this time from Emerald Jewel. It’s my first time growing this one, and this head weighed in at 27 ounces, just slightly smaller than the head of Gypsy I cut last week. I bought plants for both Gypsy and Emerald Jewel from a local nursery (Robin’s Nest Flowers) since I was having aphid issues with my own seedlings this spring. Maybe I need to let Robin grow all my broccoli plants next year! Robin did tell me she’ll have brassica plants for fall, so I am seriously considering checking out her supply. I do like supporting the local nurseries, and Robin grows great plants.

Emerald Jewel broccoli

Emerald Jewel broccoli

We have been oven roasting some of the broccoli in a cast iron skillet for a side dish. It browns up but stays crunchy, and is a quick and easy treatment for sure. It has become our new favorite dish, at least until the next new favorite comes along!

roasted broccoli

roasted broccoli

We’re still enjoying blueberries and blackberries. I picked a few of the Natchez blackberries one morning so we could enjoy them for breakfast. My wife is in charge of the blueberries.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

In other news, we’ve had a big hawk hanging out around here for a week or so. I believe it is a Red Shouldered Hawk, and it has found a nice perch on one of the garden fence posts. I apologize for the blurry image, but I did not want to get any closer and scare it away so I used the electronic zoom on my camera. It’s nice to see the big hawks here, and hopefully it is reducing the rodent population.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

I baked a couple of loaves of bread last week. The first bake was a recipe from Teresa Greenway’s EBook Discovering Sourdough called Griffin’s Bread. It’s a lower hydration (61%) bread made from a stiff ‘motherdough’ that is fermented in the refrigerator for at least 4 days. Everything about this formula was done to promote a truly sour bread reminiscent of a San Francisco style sourdough, and I have to say I think it succeeded. The recipe makes 4 pounds of dough, and I made one 2.5 pound loaf then took the rest of the dough and added 1/3 cup each of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. My wife and I enjoyed both loaves, and the bread wound up in sandwiches and crostini while the leftovers went in the freezer. I proofed these two in a brotform then baked in my Breadtopia clay baker.

Griffin's bread

Griffin’s bread

crumb shot of Griffin's bread

crumb shot of Griffin’s bread

Yesterday I baked a recipe from one of Teresa’s Udemy classes (#10 More Fun With Sourdough Bread Baking), a Kamut Sourdough Bread featuring 20% freshly ground whole grain Khorasan (Kamut) flour. Both loaves were proofed overnight in the refrigerator, and I did a zebra score on one for fun. My scoring skills need a bit of work, but I think it turned out okay, and it was very edible for sure. I baked both loaves on a hot pizza stone, covering with a roasting pan to trap the steam. After 15 minutes you remove the roasting pan and finish baking uncovered so the bread can brown up. I have another recipe with 60% Kamut in it I want to try but I need to get more Kamut grains before I can bake it. I am enjoying these experiments with naturally leavened breads, and of course I certainly enjoy eating them!

Kamut bread with zebra score

Kamut bread with zebra score

Kamut Sourdough

Kamut Sourdough

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Harvest Monday June 19, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests are really picking up here now. I take the harvest bucket to the garden with me most every morning, and bring back whatever is ready to come in. In the below photo we have several squash, including the yellow Sunstripe, White Scallop, and green striped Bossa Nova. There’s also a few side shoots of Apollo broccolini, and a small head of Minuet cabbage. The cabbage had a lot of slug damage but still weighed in at 21 ounces, which is really a nice size for the two of us to use. It wound up in a mixed veggie stir fry, actually a couple of them.

harvest of squash, cabbage and broccoli

harvest of squash, cabbage and broccoli

I also got a head of Soloist napa cabbage last week, which I used to make a batch of baechu kimchi. That head weighed almost three pounds, which gave me enough for a quart jar of kimchi plus a bit leftover. I lost one head of the Minuet that rotted at the base.

Soloist cabbage

Soloist cabbage

I like to put daikon radish in my kimchi, so I pulled a few of the spring planted ones to see how they were doing. In the below photo it’s Sweet Baby on the left and Shunkyo on the right. The green Sweet Baby seems to be an off type, though it tasted the same as the purple ones, sweet at the beginning then spicy at the end. I wound up making a jar of radish kimchi (Kkakdugi) with three of the Sweet Babys, and used the other one in a salad. The Shunkyo is a Chinese radish with a sweet hot flavor too, though not as sweet as the Sweet Babys.

Sweet Baby and Shunkyo radishes

Sweet Baby and Shunkyo radishes

I pulled one of the Alpine Gold daikons that I used in the cabbage kimchi. I planted both Alpine Gold (from Kitazawa) and Alpine (from Johnny’s) this spring, and I am curious to see if they are the same radish or whether they are different. Both are hybrid Korean daikons that are suitable for both spring and fall planting. I’ll let both of them size up a bit before I start pulling any more. Alpine Gold is supposed to get to 3 or 4 pounds, so I definitely pulled this one early at 7 ounces.

Alpine Gold radish

Alpine Gold radish

I cut the biggest head of broccoli so far this year from Gypsy. It weighed in at 28 ounces, which is larger than I usually grow broccoli here, especially in spring. The Gypsy plants are making nice side shoots too this year, though in years past it has not done nearly so well. I wish I could find one or two broccoli varieties that were truly dependable for me, but so far I am still looking.

Gypsy broccoli

Gypsy broccoli

The Apollo broccolini has been a dependable performer for me for several years now. Another broccolini type I’m growing this year is Artwork, a 2015 AAS winner with a medium sized main head but plenty of side shoots. The main attraction for these broccolini types is the long and tender stems. Last year Artwork pumped out a lot of side shoots, and I am hoping for a repeat performance this year.

Artwork broccoli

Artwork broccoli

It is looking to be a great year for kohlrabi here. It’s one of our favorite veggies for sure. I pulled three Kolibri I had growing in the main garden, and I let them get a bit bigger than usual so I could make kraut and pickles with them. Despite their size they were still tender and not woody or tough inside.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

But the biggest kohlrabies I grow are the giant Kossak variety. This year they have really sized up nicely. The four in the below photo weighed a total of 15 pounds, with the largest one weighing almost 4.5 pounds. These will mostly get turned into kraut and pickles too. I have hauled in 32 pounds of kohlrabi this spring, which puts us on pace for a record harvest year, even more than the 46 pounds we got in 2014. There are several more of the Kossak still in the garden, plus I plan on growing more plants this fall.

Kossak kohlrabi

Kossak kohlrabi

Our new favorite way to prepare kohlrabi is to toss it with a little olive oil and bake it in a cast iron skillet. We have settled on thin slices as the preferred shape, since it maximizes the surface area that touches the skillet, and it makes for easy turning. I’m calling them kohlrabi chips, and we will be making them again soon. I’ll try and get a better pic next time! Our cast iron skillet stays busy since it works well for so many veggies.

kohlrabi chips

kohlrabi chips

I’m also getting the first cucumbers from the greenhouse. That’s the only place I have them planted this year, and they usually give us more than we need. Corinto is a slicing type I have grown for several years now.

Corinto cucumbers

Corinto cucumbers

I am growing pickling types this year too. I have a trio of greenhouse pickles in the below photo, from left to right they are Vertina, Excelsior and Harmonie. The seeds for all three came from Johnny’s.

Vertina, Excelsior and Harmonie cucumbers

Vertina, Excelsior and Harmonie cucumbers

The blackberries are ripening now as well. The Natchez variety is the first to ripen here, followed by Apollo. There was a bit over three pounds in this first picking, and the thornless canes are loaded this year. Most of these headed straight to the freezer after a quick rinse.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

Natchez is a nice sized berry with a good flavor when they are fully ripe. We have been enjoying them for dessert, and with our morning muesli where they join in with our blueberries. They’re not all as big as the ones below, but most are nice sized.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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Photo Friday: June Bloomers

Today I want to share some of the things we have blooming here in mid June. I’ll start in the Wild Garden, which is a sunny spot that includes many plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators. It is a riot of colors now, as quite a few of the plants are in full bloom.

the Wild Garden in June

the Wild Garden in June

The soapwort (Saponaria officianalis) is one of the plants in full bloom, and it anchors one corner of the Wild Garden. This plant is supposed to be attractive to butterflies, but they seem to prefer other blooms nearby. Regardless, it is an easy to grow plant that lights up every summer with its pinkish white, sweet smelling blooms. I grew our plant from seed, but it also spreads rather aggressively by rhizomes and I regularly thin it back to keep it from overtaking the neighboring plants.

soapwort aka bouncing bet

soapwort aka bouncing bet

One nearby plant the butterflies and bees love is bee balm. This one has red flowers, though we also have the purple flowered one that was here when we moved to Happy Acres. That one has not started blooming just yet.

red bee balm

red bee balm

Another favorite for the bees is the hollyhock. This is a single flowered heirloom strain called Outhouse I grew from seed, and it has blooms in shades of white, pink and red. The bumblebees really enjoy these blossoms, and they wind up covered in pollen as they visit them.

Outhouse hollyhocks

Outhouse hollyhocks

I’m especially fond of the maroon colored flowers. The bumblebees were working the flowers yesterday but moving too quick for me to get their photo.

maroon hollyhocks

maroon hollyhocks

A less showy bloomer is the catnip. Like most members of the mint family, the blooms are very attractive to bees and other pollinators. Of course the leaves are attractive to cats, and I occasionally bring in a few for our two feline friends Puddin and Ace.

catnip blooming

catnip blooming

The butterfly weed  (Asclepias tuberosa) is a bit showier, and it’s aptly named as it is popular with butterflies, though none were visiting the morning I was out there.

butterfly weed

butterfly weed

Always a favorite for bees and butterflies alike is the purple coneflower. We have several plants scattered around the Wild Garden and the Sun Garden, and they are just now starting to bloom. Many of these are volunteers that have self-sown, and we often move them into bare spots as needed.

purple coneflower

purple coneflower

Just now beginning to bloom is the Lucifer crocosmia. This plant is attractive to hummingbirds, and I sometimes see butterflies checking them out too.

crocosmia Lucifer

crocosmia Lucifer

We have a couple of coreopsis plants in the Wild Garden and one called Creme Brulee is blooming now. It’s a fairly short plant, and a nectar source for butterflies. This one is a bit better behaved than some of the coreopsis we have grown in the past, like Moonbeam or Zagreb which are more aggressive.

Creme Brulee coreopsis

Creme Brulee coreopsis

Over in the kitchen garden, the bees and pollinators are loving the flowers on the bolting shallots. Of course I am more interested in the bulbs forming down lower, and the flowers are not really a good sign for this allium making nice sized shallots. Still, they are pretty to look at and the bees do love them.

shallots blooming

shallots blooming

Not much is happening in the shade garden other than the hostas that are beginning to bloom. As the name implies, Big Daddy is a giant hosta with blue leaves and white flowers.

Big daddy hosta

Big daddy hosta

In the Sun Garden, the lavender is the main attraction at the moment. The white flowered one is Melissa, a great lavender for culinary use.

Melissa lavender

Melissa lavender

Also giving us some color there are several pots of Wave petunias. The Snow Queen hydrangea is sneaking in the shot to the right, and a lavender is coming in from the lower left.

pots of Wave petunias

pots of Wave petunias

Out on the front porch we have two pots of the 2017 AAS winner Evening Scentsation growing.  This one has more fragrance than most petunias, and a lovely blue color.

Evening Scentsation petunia

Evening Scentsation petunia

I hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the June bloomers here at Happy Acres. I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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Posted in Photo Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fermenting Kohlrabi Three Ways

With the spring planted kohlrabi coming in from the garden, now is the time to begin fermenting it to turn it into kraut, pickles and kimchi. In the past, my two favorite things to do with kohrabi were to make kraut and to make kohlrabi pickles. My wife and I love both treatments, and the pickles are one of her favorite ways to consume kohlrabi. I did a ‘how to’ on these two ways to prepare kohlrabi a couple of years ago called Fermented Kohlrabi Two Ways. Since then I have experimented with more options and methods, and I want to share some of them today.

lacto-fermented kohlrabi three ways

lacto-fermented kohlrabi three ways

First up, I have really come to enjoy adding garlic to all of our krauts. Either raw garlic or roasted garlic adds another level of flavor to the fermented veggies, and since I love garlic (and grow a lot) it seems like a perfect fit. For a pint jar of kraut, I generally add two cloves of minced garlic, or four cloves to a quart jar. I like to run my garlic through a press instead of chopping it up with a knife, because I think it extracts a lot of flavor plus it is easier when you have a lot of garlic to mince. For the roasted garlic version, I wrap a whole head of garlic in foil and roast it in a 400°F oven for about 45 minutes until soft and mushy. One whole head seasons a pint of kraut nicely, while I use two heads to flavor a quart. Once cooled, you can squeeze the garlic out of the skins and chop lightly before adding to the kraut.

grating kohlrabi for kraut

grating kohlrabi for kraut

Another new thing I have come to like is kohlrabi kimchi. My recipe is still evolving, but I will share it here soon when I make another batch of it. It’s a bit more involved than making kraut, or kohlrabi pickles, so I got the bright idea of making the pickles with kimchi seasoning as sort of a shortcut. I’m calling these kimchi pickles, and I have made them with both kohlrabi and with daikon radishes, or a combination of the two. After peeling, I cut up the kohlrabi into half inch slices then cut again into pieces about a half inch wide.

cutting kohlrabi for pickles

cutting kohlrabi for pickles

To season the kimchi pickles, for a pint jar I add about a tablespoon each of grated ginger and minced garlic. Then I add somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of Korean pepper flakes (gochugaru), depending on the desired heat level. I add the kohlrabi pieces, then cover with the brine. I generally add about a tablespoon of fine sea salt to two cups of water, which works out to about a 3.5% brine. I leave the pickles to ferment for about two weeks, or until they reach the desired level of flavor. Of course, if you don’t want the heat you can use less of the hot pepper, or omit it entirely.

seasonings for kimchi pickles

seasonings for kimchi pickles

It is important to always keep vegetables submerged under the brine when fermenting. The fermentista’s mantra is ‘under the brine, and all will be fine’, and I use glass pickle pebble weights to help keep my ferments covered by the brine. That’s the only special equipment I use for fermenting veggies, other than plastic storage caps. I find the metal ones corrode quickly when subjected to the acidic and salty liquids associated with fermentation.

glass pickle pebble weight

glass pickle pebble weight

glass weight in jar

glass weight in jar

For more information on lacto-fermentating vegetables, I can recommend a couple of books I use for reference on the subject. One is Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. The other book is Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten K. and Christopher Shockey. Both address the basics of fermenting vegetables at home, and also have a lot of useful recipes, many of which I have tried. Both will help to make sure your fermentation projects are successful, as well as to give you ideas.

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Posted in Food, Preserving | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments