We are gearing up – mentally at least – for our 10th harvest in the orchard this year!
And what a journey of discovery this last decade as hobby fruit farmers has been.
The learning curve has been steep (we did start from practically zero…) and the enrichment immense. Our orchard has been a constant for us in a decade of ever broadening horizons, during which we have had the privilege of accompanying our son on the richly rewarding journey from tiny tot to a lanky teenager who now requires an i m m e n s e amount of persuasion before he gets involved in any harvesting acitivities with his parents :).
We also live in far greater harmony with the rhythms of the natural year now than we did ten years ago. This brings reassurance, and resilience. We hope.
For our decade in the orchard has taken us down many further paths previously untrodden, one of them being Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). What that is: https://communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/what-is-a-csa/. I have been very involved in the running and organisation of our local CSA for six years now and here I have learnt volumes about veggies:
And where the veggies have taken me is down the road to fermented foods. As an Anglo-Saxon, fermented food was not something that I had ever had positive associations with, even during my (first) twenty years in Germany, having mostly managed to steer clear of sauerkraut.
Well, that has all changed. Largely the fault of our CSA farmer who supplies us with his very own homemade traditional sauerkraut during the winter months, I have this year discovered the art of fermenting for myself, and it goes way, way beyond just sauerkraut! The book that opened up this Aladdin’s cave of fine fermented flavours is in German, but there is a US-based website which does a pretty good job for those wanting to venture into fermenting: https://fermenterskitchen.com/. They inspired me with Fermented Honey Garlic: https://fermenterskitchen.com/fermented-honey-garlic/.
Flavour – I (and the family) find many vegetables actually taste even better fermented than cooked or raw (radishes, for example). The flavours are far less harsh than pickles preserved in vinegar.
Health benefits – fermented food is all about digestive health and none of the nutrients are lost in the process (unlike cooking).
Storage – fermented food keeps in jars in cool, dark cellars for months, and just gets tastier in the process.
Energy resources – fermented food requires no energy whatsoever, neither for the preparation nor the storage.
For me it is all about self-reliance, in the broadest sense of the word.
And yes… you can ferment fruit too…
This year’s batch of Preserved Lemons https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/oranges-and-lemons/ I preserved using the same fermenting process I use for vegetables, with great success, and a whole lot less salt.
I have my eye on recipes for fermenting plums, too, and I think quinces ought to produce a fine result!
And so we come full circle, from Fruit to Veggies back to Fruit…:)