Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Peach Melba Jam

My last attempt at this particular jam was in 2010 when I broke my hand. I vaguely remember shoving everything one-handed through the food mill and coming up with jam that was mostly raspberry and very little peach. This time, I had an immersion blender and I reversed the proportions of the peaches to raspberries so it was 2 parts peach, one part raspberry. It's still pretty heavily raspberry, though.

The berries came from my farm share and the peaches from that place near my parents' where I often get the half-bushel for canning. I was in the neighborhood last week and got two 4-quart boxes of peaches, and now one is completely finished.

Using the Sure-Jell recipe with 4 cups of puréed fruit and 5.5 cups of sugar, I made 7 cups of peach melba jam.

The rest of the berries will likely get consumed tonight with a little cream and sugar. They won't last long. The residual storm that was Hurricane Florence passed through and was gone by the time I got out there, but that rain was intense. And it wasn't even at hurricane level - I cannot imagine what the people in the Carolinas have been through. At the farm, they basically said that if you were brave enough to be in the fields, everything was unlimited, so I picked about a quart of berries, a whole lot of green beans, the largest bunch of parsley I dared to get, and whatever peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos I could find.

I hope to make some salsa verde tomorrow. Actually, I hoped to make some today, but SOMEBODY fed the cilantro to the rabbit. I even ran to the store just now but they were completely sold out(?!). Apparently, cilantro is on everyone's menu but mine.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Crabby Bees

Actually, they weren't too bad. I decided that every time I feed the hives I should alternate which one I inspect. It was time to inspect the original colony, the one that's been a little crabby whenever I try to get in there. I steeled myself for their anger and proceeded.

First, however, I installed a mouse guard on hive #2, and I should get the insulation panels in the next week. I quickly changed their feeder and peeked in on them through the window; all seems to be well. Still in a good mood.

Then I inspected the original colony and changed their feeder. I was able to see all the bars this time, despite having a bunch of angry bees climbing all over my gloves and trying to fly in my face. Thank goodness for my bee veil! I'm happy to report I saw Beeyonce today; she's rather hard to find but I found her on the second bar in from the front. There was definitely new brood, lots of worker bees, very few drones, and they're building up a lot of honey now. All very good signs.

The other thing I did today was visit a few of my black walnut spots and harvested a bunch of walnuts. It's better when I can get them straight off the tree so the bugs haven't had time to get in them from the ground. After crushing a few accidentally with the car as I got the soft outer husk off, I have a good amount (maybe 20?) drying in the garage. I also picked up some peaches today and will likely bake a few things this weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Double Thick

Since it's September and I have about one more month to feed the bees, it was time to make double strength syrup (2 pounds sugar per pint of water) to really fortify the honey stores for the winter. It's been either super rainy or super hot this week and today was the first chance I got to get into the hives safely. As before, Beeyonce's hive was mildly annoyed, but I checked a few combs and saw some honey, including some capped cells of honey, a very good sign. Phoebee's hive was very polite, and I was able to look at all the combs. I saw signs of honey production, nothing capped yet, but did see Phoebee and a decent amount of brood cells. Things are looking good.

As I continue to manage the huge amount of food from the share, I made another batch of salsa verde; I had about 20 ounces of tomatillos to start with and ended up with just under 2 pints worth of salsa. That's now canned and all set. Thankfully, now I have nothing currently sitting on the counter to be cooked except one spaghetti squash. I do have a few things left in the fridge, though this week we got through a lot of produce.

While the salsa was in the canner I prepped all the jars for the fair drop-off tomorrow. They needed address labels and ingredient labels. I think I now have everything all organized for tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Adding Flavor

In yesterday's farm share we received more cabbage. I already had 3 heads in the fridge and had been meaning to make sauerkraut, but forgot. This cabbage reminded me about that. There were also leeks in the share. I wondered if I could add leek to the fermentation? After all, you can add garlic, or seeds (usually caraway, which I don't like), so why not a leek?

After cleaning everything up I set to slicing. The 4 heads of cabbage took up a LOT of space in my crock but I expect by this afternoon when it's time to add the wine they will have compressed a lot. I mixed the leek in as best I could. This should take a few weeks to ferment fully. And then we'll see!

In other news, the deadline to enter canned things in the fair was yesterday. I have ended up with 9 entries. I still plan to bake something but that deadline isn't for a few weeks. Saturday I will take the canned goods up to Topsfield. It'll be nice to head up there - it's very pretty up around Topsfield, particularly in September. Maybe we'll even go to the beach.