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Stocking the Pantry

September 29th, 2016

This time of year the pantry, root cellar, and freezer start to fill up once again. I always am amazed by how full the freezer gets, I think I’ll never be able to eat all the vegetables tucked away inside. Then, come March, I’m thankful that I spent the effort to freeze all the garden bounty. For the most part, the vegetables I freeze last us until spring greens are available from the garden once again. While I do buy a few vegetables here and there throughout the winter months, the majority of it comes from the freezer.
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One of the things I’m most thankful for in the winter: onions. I grow loads of alliums: leeks, onions, shallots, potato onions, and scallions. Having a full year’s supply of onions in the pantry is a wonderful feeling. Most of them get put into baskets and are stored in an unheated bedroom upstairs, but I can’t resist making a few braids to hang in the pantry off the kitchen. Every time I come and go they bring a smile to my face.

What’s your favorite item to grow for storing?

The End

September 26th, 2016

Well, we have our first frost advisory for tonight (Sunday night, which was last night). Luckily, I’ve been out all week harvesting all the remaining peppers, tomatoes, and beans. I’m amazed by the amount of green peppers I had on my plants, they totaled about a bushel. I had about the same amount of tomatoes.
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The peppers already made their way into the freezer, the green tomatoes are laying in wait till they ripen. I may make some green tomato chutney if I have the time.
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The hot peppers (cayenne and Korean bird peppers) are going to be dried for crumbling into curries and stews to add a little heat this coming winter. There’s actually something nice about having a frost, it’s a definite end to the season. Sometimes I need that to get me to finally rip out the tender plants and prepare for the coming winter.

When is your typical first frost?

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?

Bushels of Beans

September 28th, 2015

Remember that second batch of green beans I seeded back in mid July? They all came ripe. I harvested a nice batch before we left for our trip at the beginning on Sept, when I returned they were flush with beans!
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I harvested half a bushel on Friday night and half bushel on Saturday night. Then I blanched them and put them in the freezer. I like to freeze them on cookie sheets then dump them into zipper bags so I can scoop out what I need for a meal. It’s a convenient way to preserve them. These are ‘Maxibel Haricort Vert’ from High Mowing Seeds.
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I also like them blanched so I can make this cold green bean salad with them. It’s a great way to taste summer in the middle of winter when you have the need for it.

What are you preserving from you garden before winter comes?

Quote of the Day: Preserving

September 13th, 2015

It is the natural course of events for food to be abundant for a little window in time. Blackberries will be lusciously ripe for just a couple weeks. Rich porcini flush quickly as the rain comes. They won’t wait for your schedule. Be it pickling or jelly making,r ally yourself for gathering and deal yourself into the working game in your kitchen. BEtter yet, deal in some friends or family too: have a working party. Putting up food together links you with thousands of years of human traditions. And it’s a blast.”

Connie Green and Sarah Scott The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

This past week a lot of the garden has been at maximum production. It doesn’t matter how I plan, it seems everything comes ripe at once, and always before a trip or some other big event. The result is LONG days of frantically putting up food for the depths of winter.

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This has been one of my best tomato years every, the bounty just keeps coming. So far I’ve canned around 40 pints of tomato soup, 15 quarts of tomatoes, along with putting a bushel in the freezer to be made into sauce when there is more time. I have also been drying my ‘Principe Borghese’ tomatoes, which are perfection. I grow this variety just for drying and I dry as many racks as I can. They are amazing in omelets and sprinkled on top of pizza.
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My late flush of zucchini and beans are coming on strong, I did the first picking of beans yesterday and put a gallon of blanched haricots verts in the freezer. Zucchini was cubed and blanched, and grated as well, both varieties are tucked away in the freezer to be added to winter soups and frittatas.
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The apple trees are also producing by the bushel this year. One variety is ready even though I am not. I picked a half bushel for eating and then froze the rest to be turned into apple butter and some applesauce for Mr Chiots. Yesterday, I managed to preserve over 150 lbs of homegrown fruits and vegetables for us to feast on this winter. Not only will I save a bundle on my groceries, we’ll be eating healthfully as well. The satisfaction of nourishing yourself is an amazing feeling!

What are you putting by for winter?

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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.

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