Friends, I have been way behind in relating some important news in the 2019 ReLocavore season.
First, I am sure many of you know, but if you don’t, ReLocavore and The Mister relocated. We are now back in our native turf, Southern Wisconsin. Back with quality farm land, quality farmers and quality markets. So, we re-re-located. You’ll see a definite shift in my work. First, I have lots of built-in helpers. Second, my new house has white composite marble countertops (goodbye beautiful New Hampshire granite).
Second, I have not been posting the canning inventory for 2019. Let me catch you up…
37 pints Strawberry Jam (h/t Smother and The Mister)
I headed to Noda Farm to pick blueberries. The bushes were laden with fruit and picking was easy. Noda Farm is a lovely place to pick berries because their bushes are large and well kept. Picking is easy because you don’t have to crouch down and the large bushes provide shade. I was able to pick 8.5 lbs of berries in about 45 minutes. I would love to share pictures with you, but my phone was dead.
I planted 3-year blueberry bushes in my garden. The third year is when the bush starts to produce fruit. The plants cost more (about triple the cost of a 2-year plant) but you get blueberries right away. My lovely bushes are two varieties: “bluecrop,” and “northland.”
They set fruit, which now means I am in a never ending battle against the birds and other critters that want to eat my fruits.
My first line of defense was to put the garden fence around the bushes. That will keep the deer out. Next was to build bird netting cages to keep the birds at bay. I finished them this evening to good success. I recycled leftover garden fence into two cyllinders. Then I covered them with bird netting. Here is hoping I get a few cups of berries from my bushes.
Even given my kvetching, Sandor Katz fermenting workshop had a strong influence on me. I guess I may be developing my skills as an amature fermento. I have now fermented:
The Kimchi is clearly my biggest fermentation success. Yummy yum. I think I got the balance of spice and saltiness, and since we had the space to let the stink dissipate, I was able to let it ferment for a month and get very sour. Next time – more ginger, for sure. I have enjoyed eating my kimchi on pizza. The flavors of kimchi are very similar to the flavors of pepperoni and pepperoncini: hot, tangy, and salty. In fact, some pepperoni are actually fermented by being inoculated with flavor-enhancing molds!
Mixed vegetable kraut we made at the Katz workshop. It’s shredded carrots, radishes, white turnips and onions. I have let it sit for a few weeks and flavors have mellowed and gotten more sour. The onion smell was initially very strong – I was slightly worried I would get a charge on my hotel bill for cleaning out the stank. But over a few weeks the onion smell has become milder and richer with more umami. We have been eating it all along the fermenting time and I think it gets better every time I eat some.
Blueberry Soda was demoed at the workshop, so after picking blueberries, I used some to make my own soda. I used about 1/2 cup of sugar, a pint of blueberries and about a quart of water. I mixed it together without crushing the berries and kept stirring over 4 days. The final product went into a growler and has been hanging in the fridge. It’s a light pink color with a mild effervescence, kind of like kombucha. It’s OK, but I wouldn’t want to drink a lot. I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks, but it would be a good mixer.
I found an accidental glut of cucumbers in the garden last week and decided to try to make half-sour pickles. The cukes were too big for whole pickles, so I cut them into spears. Whole cucumbers will ferment for weeks or months and still stay slightly crisp, but fermenting cucumber spears will inevitably lead to mushy pickles after a week or so. I decided to make half-sour pickles, which are in a stronger brine and fermented for a short period. Into big quart jars I added two crushed garlic cloves, a big sprig of fresh dill, and a 3% salt brine – about two tablespoons of salt for a quart of water. They hung out on the kitchen counter for 4 days. They came out crisp, yet salty and a little tangy. Sam seems to be a big fan of them.
I traveled to Super Acres Blueberry Farm in Lyme, NH with my colleagues from work to pick blueberries. This was my first you-pick blueberry experience. Blueberries are easy to pick because they grow on 5 to 8 foot tall bushes, meaning you get to spend a lot of time in the shade and pick berries standing up. No bending and straining your back for blueberries.
With our berries, I made blueberry jam (3 lbs, 10 half-pints), blueberry buckle (1.5 lbs) and ate the rest with breakfast. I think we may go back again and pick more for the freezer.
Super Acres farm is also dog-friendly, so I can take the pooch with too!
These are the blueberry varieties available
I picked 6 lbs of blueberries (about 6 mounded pints). $2.75/lb so the total price was $16.50
Beth (in red), Sophia (in pink) and Oleg (in Vermont Plaid) picking blueberries.
From the satellite images you can see the rows of bushes.
So this week marks an important transition between spring and summer. We didn’t get any lettuce in our CSA box this week. We also didn’t get any tomatoes in our CSA box. This is very disappointing. What it means is there’s no period of time when the tomatoes overlap with the lettuce allowing us to eat BLT sandwiches. I love BLTs. There is no sandwich, save a simple sandwich made with tomato and mayonnaise, that even rivals the BLT in my opinion.
I guess I’m going to have to get up tomorrow and go to the farmers market. Buy some tomatoes, and a head of lettuce, so we can eat BLTs at least once this year.
This week, we became began receiving our fruit share. In the box this week were:
1. Hass avocados from Carpetina, CA
2. Grapes. Coachella valley, CA
3. peaches (no origin mentioned in the newsletter)
4. White nectarines from Oregon
5. Blueberries from New Jersey
So you’ll scan the list above and ask yourself, “what’s so local about that? Your fruit is coming from all over the country!”
Here’s the way I look at it. We live way up north, and there’s only so many things that are actually able to grow in our climate. The fruit that grows local includes: rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, apples, and cranberries. How fruit share works is they collaborate with farms across the country, to grow fruit in the way that is most sustainable for that area. When fruit in one geographic area is ripe, it’s shipped to a central location boxed up and then distributed out to fruit share members. Fruit share makes extra effort to offset the carbon cost of growing and harvesting the fruit, and transporting fruit across the country.
I could spend another thousand words trying to explain the cognitive dissonance of describing our fruit box from all over the US, but… Ultimately it boils down to this: our CSA in Wisconsin used to offer us fruit share as part of our delivery, we signed on, and we got really spoiled by having good fruit all summer long. We get extra fruit and put it in the freezer for the winter time. And it’s become a main component of our diet. So we have it again here in New Hampshire.