Monday, January 19, 2015

Planning and harvesting.

It's that time of year when there's quite a lot of harvesting to be done. It's very frustrating when the fruit is ripening, or there's a glut of spinach waiting to be picked, but you are just too busy to get there!! I had quite a few plums on my tree, but they were eaten by birds and, believe it or not my dogs, because I was unable to harvest them. I caught Rocco on his back legs trying to reach higher into the plum tree, and realised where all the low down plums had gone to!

I have lemons ripening all the time and there's nothing more frustrating than picking them, and they get mouldy in a bowl. So now my method is to pick them, peel them and squeeze them. The peels go into alcohol for maceration for a constant supply of limoncello. The juice gets frozen in ice cube trays for drinks or other use. However if  I plan properly, I'll make hummus on the day that I've picked a couple of lemons, and use some of the juice straight away for this delectable food.

Spinach can be overwhelming in its abundance. What to do with it all? My solution is to check the leaves for dirt and insects, bung them whole into a plastic bag, and freeze them. Once they are frozen, they can be bashed into spinach crumbs, the stalks are easily removed now, they take up very little space and can be used in soups, stews and egg dishes as one needs it. I do the same with other greens like Chenopodium (goosefoot), Amaranthus (pigweed), Urtica (stinging nettle) and Portulaca (purslane).
Another good way to use greens is by drying them. A dehydrator is nice to have, but greens dry quickly in the shade on a hot sunny day. Once dried they can be crumbled up and a whole mountain of greens will fit in a large jar. In this way you can skip the vitamin pills or those supplements with phytonutrients that cost the earth, because you have your very own concentrated chlorophyll and minerals.
Dried spinach

I have an apple tree that I love for it's foliage, but a harvest from it is not guaranteed. Mostly the fruit has codling moth or some other scabby problem, so it's not really edible. But the fruit is organically grown, and quite a bit of each apple is unblemished and perfect for juice. If I had enough I'd like to try cider making or even cider vinegar, but the number of apples hasn't got big enough yet.

I have never tried salting green beans, but many years ago an aunt and uncle of mine used to do this with their green bean harvests. They would wash the beans and dry them and cut them up as if ready to cook them. Then they would put a layer of salt (non-iodised, sea salt) into a jar, a layer of beans, a layer of salt etc until all the beans were packed into jars. They said that when it came to cooking the beans, they tasted like they had just been picked. To me this sounds better than frozen beans.

These are just a few ideas for dealing with harvests. I have more for another day. Enjoy.