Fruit and Veggies

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/.

Why?

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.

Background: Onions with peppercorns, and the small jar in the front is fermented ginger.

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…:)

Citrus Salts

I have been whizzing up all sorts of citrus & veggies into delectable gourmet citrus salts. So quick, so easy, and a good way to make use of small quantities of tasty things – and then you have a whole flavour bank to choose from while cooking up a storm!

What you need:

Small quantities of vegetables such as celeriac (especially forgotten celeriacs starting to dry out in the veggie basket!), parsnips, garlic (can’t have enough of it) and onions, herbs of all kinds to suit your taste.

One and twos of oranges, lemons, limes…whatever you can get your hands on, even bergamots of you are lucky enough to have them.

Relatively fine grained, pure (no additives!) salt*.

What you do:

Peel/skin and roughly chop your collection of vegetables and place them in a food processor or blender.

Add the zest of whatever citrus you are using and some of the juice if you like – not too much, though, otherwise your salt mixture will take ages to dry out again.

Add the same quantity of relatively fine pure (no additives!) salt* as you have of the other ingredients (50% salt, 50% other ingredients). Whizz everything up together until you have a fine, even mix. Spread your salt mixture out thinly on a large baking tray or similar and either leave to dry on the heating or in the oven at 50°C, with a wooden spoon holding the oven door ajar, for 2-3 hours.

Once the salt is completely dry, whizz it again in the food processor to break up any dried lumps and store in airtight glass jars.

My current combinations:

Lemon & Lime & Garlic & Celeriac Salt

Bergamot & Orange & Garlic & Celeriac & Parsley salt

Lemon & Parsnip & Parsley & Garlic Salt

being used to flavour everything from soups & salads, pastry & breads to mains & sides.

*salt: quality matters here and I prefer rock salt over sea salt, on account of us having allowed microplastic to have completely pervaded our oceans: up to 1800 microgramms of microplastic per kilogram of Fleur du Sel, for example, detected in a study published in January 2018 by scientists at the University of Oldenburg, Germany.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

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Yes they can, pumpkins can do cake!

Just substitute pumpkin purée (spiced to your taste or plain) for the fruit purée in my

Winter Fruit & Spice Cake

and this is what you will get:

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As well as a lot of smiley faces – even the kids loved it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrot Jam

This is a recipe that has grown out of a task I took on last autumn: volunteer vegetable photographer  for our community supported agriculture initiative here where we live in Germany. A nice gallery of veggie photos we have built up in the process too: Veggie Gallery.

And, while the orchard is enjoying its winter rest, I have been pickling and preserving my way through the produce 🙂

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Carrot Jam

 In the Orient a classic, for us, something different for the breakfast table

1kg carrots, peeled and grated

Zest and juice of 1 untreated lemon

Zest and juice of 2 untreated oranges

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

½ tsp crushed cardamom seeds

500 g brown sugar

250 ml apple juice (naturally cloudy i.e. unfiltered)

 

  1. Combine the grated carrots with the sugar in a bowl, cover and leave to draw overnight.
  2. The next day, place the carrots and sugar in a large saucepan together with the remaining ingredients and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, remove the lid and boil for 30 to 60 minutes until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of jam (test for a set if you want to be sure).
  4. Place in sterilised jars and seal immediately. Keeps for several months if stored in a cool, dark place.

 

Makes about 1.3 kg