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Making Cidah

October 13th, 2015

Cider (or cidah here in Maine) is one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fall treats. In Ohio, we had a local press we purchased gallons and gallons of cider from each year. We have yet to find cider as good as there’s here in Maine, so we usually get 8-10 gallons for our freezer when we’re back in Ohio for Thanksgiving. Lucky for our, our neighbor was given a cider press and we had an abundance of apples.
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We have lots of different varieties of apples here, probably around 15, of which 8 are ready to be used right now. We have no idea what varieties they are, some over 120 years old. We’re hoping to figure out what they are here one of these days. We picked two of each variety and I made juice, which we tasted to see what flavor profiles they each had. It was amazing to taste the difference between them all, some where sweet, some were intense, others were watery, and still other were astringent.
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After tasting the various juices, we started picking apples into big totes. Each tote holds around 2 bushels of apples, we picked three totes and a bushel. We picked for an hour or two and then loaded them up in the car to head down to our neighbor’s.
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He was ready to roll, the cider press was fixed up nicely and on the front porch. After a little tweaking we were in business putting the apples through the crusher and making our first batch.
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After a few hours we had all of our containers filled and tons of apple mash. Some went to his chickens, some went to our chickens, some went to a local farmer for their pigs.
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Overall it was a really fun day, ending up with a lot of cider wasn’t so bad. The cider ended up being delicious, next year we might tweak our recipe a bit, but it’s still better than any of the cidah I’ve purchased from any of the local orchards. We were pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy the process was.

Have you ever been a part of a cider pressing day? Do you like apple cider?

Friday Favorite: Preserving the Harvest

October 2nd, 2015

Our apple trees are loaded with fruit this year, there are so many we could never eat/use/preserve them all. Luckily, we have friends that can use some and they have been. We’ve been eating them out of hand and I’ve been making applesauce and dried apple slices. We’re hoping to make cider next weekend as well.
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One of the things I love about dried apples is that they store in the pantry, there’s not much work involved in prepping them. I simply core and slice each apple into 8 sections, yes I leave the peels on. They are layered onto racks in my oven and set to dry at 150 degrees until dry and leather, usually 6-8 hours depending on how full the oven is.
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I love using my oven as to dry things because it fits so much more than a dehydrator. A few years ago, I purchased extra racks so I could fill it completely. This batch produced 3 half gallon jars filled with dried apple slices. Mr Chiots will certainly appreciate them for delicious and healthy treats during the winter. I’m not a huge fan of dried apples, well of apples in general. I do love dried pears however, which reminds me I need to read up on pears this winter because I’ll be planting pear trees in the spring.

Do you dehydrate any fruit? What’s your favorite.

Friday Favorite: Strawberry Season

June 20th, 2014

Last night we have our first flush of ripe berries from the garden, they were delicious!
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I planted these last year, we have ‘Sparkle’ Junebearing strawberry plants and everbearing ‘Seascape’. I wanted to give overbearing a try to see how they did. Last year they didn’t produce very many berries but it was their first year. We will see how they do this year.
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We enjoyed the berries on strawberry shortcake, one of our favorite summer meals. If you’d like the recipe I posted it a few years ago on this post.
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Next year we should have even more strawberries, our plants produce lots of runners. I’ll be moving all the ones that come this year to a new spot in the garden. Strawberries do well if they are moved to a new location every 3 years. I plan on adding a new section in the garden before the old one is exhausted so we alway have lots of berries.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy strawberries?

A Sweet Harvest

September 28th, 2011

On Monday, I harvested my first fruit from my ‘Hardy Chicago’ fig tree. I’ve been keeping my eye on it for a while, watching and waiting for it to come ripe. Since I’ve never grown figs before, and my eating of them has been mostly reserved to the dried kind, I wasn’t exactly sure when it was ripe.

Somewhere, I read that once they start to droop and crack you know they’re ready to harvest. Mine was turning a beautiful shade of purple and was slightly soft, I figured it was time.

I took it inside and cut it open to reveal it’s beautiful jeweled interior. It was perfectly ripe. Mr Chiots and I each enjoyed half, the typical crunchy seeds reminiscent of the fig newtons I ate as a kid, but much less sweet and so much better. I think this may be the first ripe fig I’ve ever eaten, I cannot recall ever having one. There are still 4 or 5 figs on this tree, and a few on the fig tree I purchased at Monticello last summer. I hope these still ripen with the weather turning colder.

Figs are such a wonderfully exotic fruit, they remind me of many of the different fruits I ate during my childhood in Colombia, especially guava. I certainly miss the tropical flavors I became accustomed to during my youth, it can be tough to find a good mango, papaya, maracuya, or guava here in Ohio.

What’s your favorite fruit that’s not native to your area? Do you grow any exotics?

A Taste of Summer

June 1st, 2011

Yesterday we picked our first three strawberries. As you can imagine – we’re super excited about the flush that will follow most likely next week through the end of June. I see a lot of strawberry shortcake for dinner in the coming weeks!

I have five different kinds of strawberries growing in my edible gardens.

‘Yellow Wonder’ – a yellow alpine strawberry that produces small yellow pineapple flavored berries all summer long. Compact, about 8-10 inches tall and very lush, perfect for edging gardens. Do not produce runners. (source: started from seed a few years ago originally from Baker Creek)

‘Sparkle’ – The best berry for jam and freezing, Sparkle has been known for flavorful, high-quality, attractive fruit for over 60 years. Do not allow the bed to become too thick, and you’ll be rewarded with a nice crop of tasty, medium-sized berries. An extremely vigorous variety, Sparkle is an excellent choice for home gardeners and PYO operations in northern climates. (source: plants from Nourse Farms)

‘Allstar’ – Allstar produces a good crop of very large, light-colored, sweet berries. Glossy, firm fruit makes this variety excellent for fresh eating. This widely adapted variety has performed consistently well from the East to central Midwest. It is highly resistant to red stele, with intermediate resistance to Verticillium wilt. (source: plants from Nourse Farms)

‘Earliglow’ – “Wonderful strawberry flavor” is this variety’s trademark. Earliglow’s fruit has a very firm, glossy skin, firm flesh, and medium size. Its sweet flavor makes the variety excellent for fresh eating and freezing. Fruit size tends to decrease as the season progresses. Earliglow plants are very vigorous and runner well. This variety has good resistance to red stele and intermediate resistance to Verticillium wilt. Recommended for beginners. (source: plants from Nourse Farms)

‘Tarpan’ – Starts producing abundant, 1-1 1/2″, deep rose flowers in about 85 days. Plant in a hanging basket, container, or in the ground. The bright red, small to medium-sized fruit are plentiful, tasty, and will produce from midsummer to frost. Produces runners. (source: seeds from Johnny’s)

I’d also love to add some ‘Tri-Star’ berries to my gardens someday. I’ve heard good things about them and I like that they’re everbearing. I’d love to have a few strawberries to add to my salad every so often.

Have you been harvesting strawberries yet? Do you grow June bearing or ever bearing varieties?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.