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The Promise of Deliciousness

May 14th, 2011

Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.
They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.

~Elizabeth Berry

Our strawberry bed was one of the first things we installed here as part of our edible garden. My parents always grew strawberries when I was growing up. You simply can’t get any better than freshly picked strawberries! I can’t eat the ones from the store, they’re giant, hollow and taste kind of watery compared to the small red jewels that we harvest from our patch.

While I was out working earlier this week I noticed that our strawberry patch is blooming profusely. I see a delicious red berry where every bloom is. Looks like we’ll be able to enjoy a lot of strawberry shortcake in a month or so. Since we only freeze a few and eat the majority of them fresh, we indulge while they’re in season.

If you have room, I’d definitely recommend putting in a strawberry patch. We’re currently adding a few everbearing varieties so we can have a few berries all summer long for salads. I also need to thin out our patch as they have sprawled into the walkways around the raised beds. I’ll be noting which plants produce the best berries and we’ll take those out and start a new patch in the new garden area.

Do you have a strawberry patch in your garden?

Making Prunes

September 21st, 2010

I prefer dried fruit over canned fruit for many reasons, the main one being the ease of making it. I love that there’s no sugar syrup, jars, or boiling water. All you have to do is provide some dry heat and you’ll end up with some lovely fruit that will keep in the cupboard for months. So far this summer I’ve been able to dry 2 gallons of dried cherries, one gallon of dried pears (pearsins we call them) and I’m currently working on drying some prunes.

I was able to score a bushel of plums at the local farm store and they’re quite tasty. They’re not prune plums, just regular old plums, but they still dry beautifully into delicious prunes. I have a small dehydrator, but I prefer to use the bread proofing setting on my oven as I can do a huge batch at once. It does take a while, but the reward is quite wonderful. I usually put them in the oven overnight for a few nights.

I pitted them this year, which I didn’t do last year. I think next year I’ll leave the pits in as I prefer the way they dry without the cut, they seem to be softer. Mr Chiots is excited as he loves dried plums. I enjoy them, but I much prefer dried pears or dried cherries.

What’s your favorite dried fruit?

Drowning in Cherries

June 18th, 2010

Yesterday afternoon we went out to my sister’s plot of land and picked cherries from two giant sweet cherry trees. The old trees are huge and they were polluted with cherries. My sister picked, I picked, my mom picked, and Mr Chiots picked as well. We picked and picked, not wanting any to go to waste, but finally we had to call it a night. My sister took home 2 one gallon buckets, my mom took a few home and we ended up with a ton. After picking all afternoon the trees didn’t even look like we’d been there.

We got home late and I’ll be processing cherries all day. I’ll be making maraschino cherries for my Christmas chocolate covered cherries and I’ll be dehydrating lots of them for snacking. I may make some jam, and I may freeze some as well. We also picked tart cherries at my mom’s house and peas that need shelling. Here’s to a busy day filling the pantry with fruit for winter eating.

Are you drowning in anything that’s in season at the moment, filling up the pantry for the winter?

Picking Sour Cherries

June 14th, 2010

Sour cherries are in season here in NE Ohio at the moment. My parents have a small cherry tree on their property that produces more than they need, so they let us pick. Mr Chiots picked about a gallon of cherries on Saturday when we were over for a visit.

My sister & brother-in-law are renting a small plot of land for their garden and it has a big sour and a big sweet cherry tree. We may pick some of those later this week if they don’t need them all.

I love sour cherries. They make delicious pies, cobblers and are fantastic with ham. I think my favorite way to enjoy them is in cherry almond scones. Looks like we’ll have a good amount of cherries tucked away in the freezer for delicious winter scones and cobblers.

Sweet or sour, what’s your favorite kind of cherry?

I See Red in My Harvest Basket

June 5th, 2010

The strawberries are in full swing here at Chiot’s Run. We’ve been picking them every day, getting a quart or two each time. Strawberries are one of those things that signify the beginning of summer here in NE Ohio. You know when the local strawberries are ripe summer is finally here.

I’m hoping to get a strawberry pie made next week. I may freeze a few later in the season to enjoy in muffins this winter. I think I’m one of the few people that doesn’t make strawberry jam. I prefer elderberry, blackberry or black raspberry.

Our favorite way to enjoy homegrown strawberries is in strawberry shortcake. Not those spongy sweet discs you buy at the store, we make lightly sweetened biscuits flecked with crystallized ginger for our shortcakes (recipe in comment section below). We crumble some shortcake in a bowl and top it with macerated strawberries (you know cut, sprinkled with sugar and chilled for an hour or so to produce the syrupy sweetness). Then we pour some raw milk on top and dig in. Such a wonderful meal on a hot day!

What’s your favorite way to eat strawberries?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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