Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

Well, it’s May already.  The root cellar is looking pretty bare, now, and we’ve been running out of frozen goods, too.  The fruit, in particular, is all gone, and we’ve pulled up the last couple of bags of green peas to the top of the freezer, to be used up.  Hubby has been rationing the salsa very, very carefully, and informs me that we *still* have three jars left.   The canned goods are otherwise holding up well, though that will change as the weather gets warm and I start craving chilled canned pears and peaches.   As it is, I have started my other late-spring ritual, of making (and drinking) gallons of home-made iced tea.

 

Amazingly, the potatoes are still entirely edible, even after more than seven months.  They are starting to sprout a bit, but remain firm.  The sprouting is just in time for early planting in the garden, and in a few weeks, we’ll plant our main crop from what is left in the root cellar.  The onions are similarly in great shape, though we’re down to just a few golf-ball sized teeny-tinies that we’re really only keeping around to see how long they will last.  The store-bought cabbages from last fall are still fine, as well, under the papery dried out leaves.  There are a few spaghetti squash remaining, and they are in good shape, but all of the other squashes had to be eaten or disposed of a while back.

 

We have been planting the early seeds over the last couple of weeks.  We got the peas in just in time for a long, cold rainy stretch, but a couple of days of warmer weather had them poking out of the ground.  Those sunny days dried things up enough for us to get back in the garden and plant some broccoli, radishes, and spinach, as well as some short rows of carrots, potatoes, and beets for summertime eating; the main crops will be planted between the end of the month and the middle of June, to be maturing just as the fall weather turns cold.   Of course, we had to race the rain again to get them in, and it’s been wet ever since.  The onion sets arrived a day too late to plant (darn rain!), and are waiting on the kitchen table for a few days of drier weather.  Meanwhile, I have started entirely too many tomatoes, peppers, melons, herbs, and such under the grow lights in my living room; I am always overly enthusiastic in my planting, but that’s okay.  At least there will be plenty of tomatoes for salsa!  We have been much more organized about planting and seed starting, and we’re hoping that getting things into the dirt in such good time will result in better crops this summer and fall.   Weather permitting, of course!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Well, another new month, another fact-finding trek down to the root cellar!

 

As of today, a few of the potatoes are starting to go a little soft, but the majority are still firm and basically perfect.  Potatoes are amazing.

 

The beets are mushy, and pretty much done.

 

The cabbages are still firm, but have developed some white mold on the outermost leaves.  They are still fine to eat, once you peel off the few outermost layers, however.

 

The onions are still fine, but there are not many left, and we will be running out soon, despite our efforts at conserving.

 

The pumpkins all went mushy in the last couple of weeks, though the spaghetti squash are still going strong.

 

We are starting to go through the canned fruit more now, as we’ve run out of frozen.  It got to the point that I am now buying any fruit that is on sale at the store, and chopping and freezing it, as I still want my smoothies, but I struggle with paying $7.50 for a little baggie of frozen peaches.  Unfortunately, this totally blows our local eating thing; the six pounds of strawberries I cut up and froze last week were from California. This is not going to stop me from doing that, however, or from buying other long-distance fruit (fresh or frozen), as I am not willing to run any risk of compromising baby’s health over a matter of principle.  We will plan better (or at least put more fruit in the freezer) this summer and fall, and chalk this up to a lesson learned.

 

I don’t imagine we’ll have much left by next month, but I sure am curious how long those darn potatoes are going to keep on keeping on for…

Read Full Post »

Continuing from January and February, our monthly food storage report:

 

The root cellar is starting to look a little more bare.

 

The carrots are now completely done; actually, they did not make it past the first bit of February before we weren’t really able to find non-bitter carrots.  I didn’t mind them being wrinkly, especially if we were using them in soups and stews, but I don’t tolerate bitter very well.  The goats are enjoying them as treats we dole out, however, so it is not a total waste.

 

The cabbages still look more or less fine.  As in last month, the outer leaves have dried out and discolored, but the heads themselves are still firm and tasty.

 

About half the remaining beets are fine – still firm and not sprouting too much.  The other half are starting to go soft, but are still completely edible.

 

The potatoes are fine.  I am still amazed by the potatoes.

 

The onions are going strong, but we are running out.  We are down to the little ones that are a pain in the butt, because you need 3 or 4 for a recipe.  Next year, we plan to plant 50% more – 600 sets, instead of 400.  It does not appear that they will rot before we can use them up, even the tiny ones, which is great.

 

The squash seem to have hit a wall this month.  About half of the remaining pumpkins, as well as a couple of the spaghetti squash, sprouted black gooey spots and mold in late February.  I am not certain if they just hit their ‘use by’ dates, or if it had something to do with us moving them into a different room of the house (they had to be moved, as we were painting the room they had been in).  The new room is just as cool as their former location, but may have had higher humidity.  Also, they wound up being more bunched together, rather than being spread out on the floor, simply due to the fact that we were putting a lot of stuff in that room in order to be able to paint the other room – air flow may have been an issue, as well.  At any rate, they were not a total waste, as the chickens really appreciate the squash, so we cut out the black and mushy bits to compost, and fed the rest to the poultry.

 

So as far as veggies go, we’ve already started having to buy carrots, and will be buying onions soon.  We’re fine for potatoes and cabbage, and the beets are so-so.  Suddenly, I am really noticing how well-suited the basic Ukrainian diet is for this region – perogies are flour dough, potatoes, onions, saurkraut, and cheese – things that store well here.  Same with borscht – beets and cabbage and sour cream.  Something to keep in mind when you’re planning your winter meals, anyhow.

 

As far as the other food storage goes, we’re starting to run out of some things.  I made too much jam and jelly this year, or did not give enough away, or something, but those shelves are still quite full.  We have not used any of the fruit syrup we made, though we’ve given some away, and it was very appreciated.  We still have lots of pears, peaches, and raspberries, but those are ones that always last fine through the winter and disappear in a flash come hot weather.  Salsa, however, we’re rationing, as we’d rather not have to buy it – it’s expensive, and not nearly as tasty from the store.  I should can several times as much this fall (if I can find the energy!).

 

The frozen stuff is much the same.  We have plenty of some things (corn, peas), too much of others (wax beans), and not nearly enough of a few things (peaches, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mangoes).  I don’t think I miscalculated that badly on the fruit; I just seem to be having smoothies a lot more often than I used to.  I blame it on the pregnancy – I crave cold stuff frequently, but don’t want to load up on ice cream, so I make a nice, healthy smoothie, instead…almost daily…and have decimated my frozen fruit supply in the process.  Next year, we’ll put up extra, especially with the extra freezer downstairs, although it is fairly full with chicken, right at the moment.

 

Overall, we’re doing not bad.  I am not too happy about the squash crashing like it has, and we’re spreading them out better in an effort to get better air flow to the survivors.  I suspect that squash could store a whole lot longer, anyhow.  I’m still very happy with the potatoes, cabbage, and beets, and I have some ideas for how to stretch the carrots next year.  Onions – like I said, we’ll be planting a lot more come spring.  And we’ll adjust what we plant for the freezer (more peas, fewer beans) as well as making more of an effort to get fruit in the freezer, and spending maybe a little less effort on the jams and jellies.  We’ll get it all figured out eventually!

Read Full Post »

Last month, I posted about how our stored garden produce was doing.  I’ve decided to update things:

 

As you may recall, we harvested most of our garden in the second week of September, due to frost.  So we’re now at the five-ish month mark for our produce.

 

In the root cellar:

 

The carrots are still hanging in there…barely.   They are getting pretty shriveled, and you have to dig through the baskets to find the good ones.  We may or may not still have any truly edible carrots by the end of the month.  We planted two different varieties of carrots – Red Cored Danvers and Scarlet Nantes Coreless, and we have not noticed any difference in how well they keep.  As I mentioned in January, we have had issues controlling the humidity, and that probably shortened the storage life of the carrots significantly.  However, five months is decent, all things considered.

 

The beets are now starting to soften.  They are still completely edible, and are showing no signs of rot, but they are not at their peak, anymore.

 

The potatoes are still in great shape.  They are not quite as crisp as when they were harvested, but they are in no danger of going bad.  The store-ability of the potatoes is impressing the heck out of us.  We have four different varieties in storage, and so far there is no variability between them; they’re all doing very well.

 

The cabbages that we purchased sometime before Halloween also continue to do well.  The outermost leaves are dry and papery, but the heads themselves are still solid and edible.

 

The non-root cellar crops are also doing quite well.   We went through all of the squash, which we have been keeping in a spare bedroom that we had closed the furnace vent in.  About five squashes (four pumpkins and a turk’s turban gourd) had moldy spots, so we cut out the mold and fed the rest to the chickens.  All of the spaghetti squash are still fine.  The acorn squashes are starting to go orange, which I think is a sign of being over-ripe, but they show no signs of mold or softness.  In all, we removed about 10% of the squash (from our original harvest of around 50 squashes of various types).  We are pretty impressed, given how little attention we have devoted to storing and managing the squash.

 

The onions are also going strong.  We have found a few that needed to be discarded, but they represented a very small percentage, overall.  We have been storing onions in two different locations, to test what works best:  we kept a large basket of onions in the cool, dry spare room with the squash, and a couple of braids in a warm store-room.  Both groups seem to be doing fine, though the onions in the warmer location have fared somewhat worse, with a couple of rotten onions out of maybe twenty, versus a few rotten onions in a basket of a couple hundred.  We planted 400 onion sets last spring, and, surprisingly, are starting to be in danger of running out.

 

Next year, we will do a better job of managing the overall humidity in the root cellar, as that seems to be what has done in the carrots, and, earlier, the turnips.  However, in all, it does seem to be viable to expect to be eating at least some of our own root-cellared produce right up until spring, even with our inexperience and imperfect storage conditions.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, for some extremely odd reason, I woke up early, with lots of energy.  So I cleaned out the pantry.  I’m clearly crazy.

 

It got me to thinking, though, that I have not really talked a whole bunch about our successes (and failures) with storing our produce from the garden.   With time on my hands, this morning, it seems like a good time to share that information.

 

As you may recall, I canned a lot of jam, jelly, salsa, and fruit this fall.  Most of it is still there.  The jam and jelly and salsa we have been using a bit at a time, but we make tons extra, and give it away as gifts, so I don’t have a set amount to make each year.  We don’t seem to eat a lot of canned fruit through the winter – when we really enjoy it is in the spring and summer, eaten with a spoon in lieu of a meal on a hot day, or served over ice cream.  I did discover, however, that while it is fine to leave the skin on the pears and the nectarines, it is truly essential to skin the peaches prior to canning – the fuzz on my tongue makes me feel like I’m trying to eat a cat.  At any rate, the canning pantry is still quite full, and that’s about what we expected for this time of year.

 

The root cellar has been a mixed success.  We harvested mid-September through mid-October, but there were still a lot of warm days after some of the crops were pulled in.  However, some of the roots (like beets) don’t like frost, and our first frost came mid-September, so Nature set our harvest date for us.  We were expecting a hard freeze and even heavy snow by Halloween, which would be normal enough for this area, but in fact, we did not get real cold and snow until mid-November.  Oh, well.  Better to harvest a little early than to lose the harvest entirely!

 

The root cellar started out fairly humid, as the basement had been flooded in the spring, due to a water delivery fellow who did not know where the hole for filling the cistern was, and chose wrong – the dirt floor of the root cellar absorbed a fair bit of water.  However, our furnace is in the basement, and has really dried things out down there.  We put most of the root veggies (except the potatoes) in plastic rubbermaid containers, covered with garbage bags (that we could move on or off to control the humidity), in order to prevent them from drying out too much.  That has worked better for some things than others, and we’ve had occasional problems with mold, as a result.

 

The turnips, most of which had some level of worm damage, had to be disposed of in late November or early December.  Some, we cut the mushy bits off and fed to the goats, but a lot of them just had to be composted.  When they went, it was very fast; a couple of weeks prior, I had taken out a turnip for soup, and had not noticed any issues with the rest of the bag.  If we have bees next fall, we might try cutting out the damaged bits and waxing them, but I’m not willing to dip my food in paraffin, which is a petroleum product, so we did not do that this year.  Apparently, due to the amount of canola (a relative of turnips, broccoli, and cabbage) grown in this area, turnip pests are heavy and endemic, and we have been told we are doing well if we get any crop at all, especially without spraying, so we’re not too disappointed with our results.

 

The beets are still going strong.  They have not gotten moldy, wrinkly, mushy, or otherwise disgusting.  Too bad we did not get much of a harvest, as they look to be one of the big successes in the cellar.

 

The carrots are doing so-so.  We had early problems with rot from too much humidity, but now we’re finding an awful lot of limp, wrinkly roots that taste bitter.  There are still a lot of good ones, but Hubby is saying he does not think they’ll last much into February, at the rate we’re going.  Given that we harvested something in the realm of 200 pounds, we will have plenty of carrots right up until they get too gross to eat.  Happily, the non-wrinkly carrots still taste fantastic.

 

I can see why potatoes are a staple in northern climates.  They are all still fine, almost as crunchy as the day we harvested them, with no special care at all.  We just dumped them in burlap sacks in the root cellar and ignored them, really.  We used the blemished ones early – we assumed that the scars from the digging fork would probably cause them to rot early – but we have not found a single rotten potato yet at all.

 

We bought a 20 pound bag of cabbages from the store in the fall – sometime before Halloween – they were very cheap, and I wanted to know how well they would store.  Some of the outer leaves have gotten dried out, but you just peel off the top few layers, and the cabbage underneath is fine.  They will clearly do well in our cellar.

 

We’ve also been keeping eggs in the root cellar, as we’ve long since run out of room in the fridge – there’s four dozen in the cellar, and two dozen in the fridge, right at the moment.  We really weren’t prepared for winter eggs. The cellar seems to keep them just fine, and we’ve eaten eggs out of there that were several weeks old, and they were as tasty as the ones from the fridge.  I’ve read that you can store fresh, unwashed eggs in the fridge for up to 9 months, or up to 2 or 3 months on the counter, so presumably the root cellar is a fine place for them.

 

We did not keep the onions in the root cellar; they and the winter squash went in an unused bedroom with the furnace vent covered, so they stayed cool and dry.  We had one squash (a very small one, probably immature when we picked it) go bad in December, but the rest are still fine.  We’ve picked out the odd mushy onion, but they are also going strong.

 

The tomatoes were mostly goners in late November and early December.

 

We still have some frozen fruit from prior years, but we are going to have to freeze up quite a lot more this year, as I am absolutely burning through it right now.  We did not put much fruit in the freezer this year, as we did not find the local U-pick operations in time.   Hopefully, the strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries we planted will start bearing this year or next, and we can just freeze our own, though I question if we will really have enough to be able to get through the whole year.

 

We figured out our annual corn quota a few years ago, and we’re on track to have enough again this year.  I wish we’d had more peas to freeze, though.  We’ve got plenty of green beans; probably even more than we’ll use this year, as it has been so mild we’ve not really been making soup, which is where I usually go through the bulk of my frozen beans.

 

We are still buying a lot from the store, especially dairy and fresh fruit and veggies, as, with me being pregnant, we need to keep up eating lots of good, fresh food.  However, our days of buying frozen fruit and veggies from anywhere else are over, and I am impressed with the beets and potatoes.  I don’t imagine the root cellar will carry us all the way through to the early harvests in July, but I am curious how close we’ll get.   All in all, I am happy with these early attempts at feeding ourselves from our own land, though we still have lots to learn!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Last night, for supper, we had green beans and broccoli, fresh from the garden, steamed with a shake of hot pepper flakes, and topped with a bit of butter and salt.  It was fantastic, and a nice change from potatoes.

 

We’ve been harvesting and eating potatoes for maybe a week?  Ten days?  They and the onions had been the only produce that was far enough along to consider eating, though the peas started coming a couple of days ago.  With the garden starting to get going, we’ve been trying hard to eat at least one meal a day that was mostly, or completely, produced right here at the Acreage.   We’ve got several flavors of very local jellies – wild rose, dandelion, saskatoon, but that doesn’t cut it for supper.  Instead, we’ve been eating potatoes with fennel and chickpeas, curried potatoes, boiled potatoes with butter, creamy dilled potatoes with beet greens, and, quite frankly, I am glad to have a garden meal without the things!

 

However, I am not looking forward to the glut of beans that I can see developing on the plants.  They, along with the peas, will probably be the bane of my existence in about a week.  I plan to blanch and freeze a lot, dry a few, eat a lot (peas and beans fresh from the garden are favorites for me), and even feed a bunch to the chickens, but I suspect we will still be doing some drive-by produce drops on a few neighbors’ front steps…

 

Having said that, though, Hubby thought I was insane when I came home with 400 onion sets to plant (I wanted to try several varieties, and the sets came in bags of 100).  I thought I was insane, too, especially when we decided to plant the whole lot of them (no point leaving them go to waste…).  Now, though, as I am using 2 or 3 onions for almost every meal I cook, Hubby has started to wonder aloud if 400 onions is really going to get us through until next year.

 

I’m pretty sure there will be no wondering with the beans – four rows (!) was probably a little enthusiastic…just like the rest of the garden, I suppose.  I do have a back-up plan, though.  Once I’ve frozen enough for the year (20 pounds?  30?  I’ll probably just keep going until I am sick of dealing with them), We will designate one or two rows for fresh eating, and leave the others to go to seed.  Just quit picking, and let them grow and grow.  We can pick those beans in the late fall, and shell them in the winter, once they’re dry, and have them for use in soups and chili.  Should save some guilt and heartache with the general harvest, too…

Read Full Post »

The Good:

There were some peas in the garden at just the perfect stage of ripeness.  Not enough for much more than snacking…yet…but boy, were they tasty.  I went out to supervise Hubby weeding – you know, keep him company for awhile, and ooh and aah over the progress he had made, which was pretty significant.  Overall this summer, the weeds have been winning most of the time, but when we bushwack our way back down to dirt in any given row, we keep discovering that the vegetables are still there, and doing fine.  After getting through the weeds, Hubby thinned the beets, and the bundle of greens was big enough to be a side dish for a meal.  While we were at it, we dug up a couple of potato plants, just to see what was under there, and were pleased to find big healthy potatoes, ready to be cooked up into lunch.  I pulled up a couple of immature onions, and went inside to make something to eat…

Recipe:  Creamy Dilled Potatoes

12 small potatoes (or 3 or 4 big ones), cut into bite-sized chunks

2 immature garden onions (or 1/2 of a regular white onion, or a good handful of green onions)

a little butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp dried dill

salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in a little salted water water until tender.  While the potatoes are cooking, chop the white part of the onion and fry in butter until just translucent.  Chop the green part of the onion and add that, too, once the white is mostly cooked.   add the milk and heavy cream (or just add a cup of light cream – we happened to have heavy cream around, about to go off, and I did not want to waste it), and the dill, salt, and pepper.  When to potatoes are done cooking, drain the water, then put them back in the pot and add the cream sauce.  Simmer briefly and serve.  We had ours with steamed beet greens with a bit of butter and lemon.  This is very rich, and would probably be best as a side dish with a lighter meal like grilled chicken and steamed veg, but we liked it just fine as the main course, too!

The Bad:

Last weekend, Hubby found one of the chickens in the coop, laying on her side.  She was not in any distress, but seemed to be unable to get up.  We put her in a box with a bit of straw for bedding, and brought her into the porch.  She ate and drank happily enough, and seemed fine, except for an inability to stand.  After five days, she was no better at all, and seemed weaker and in some discomfort from laying on her side all the time – some of her feathers were getting loose, and she just did not look well at all.

I told Hubby that I would not participate in anything that involved blood until after my morning coffee, so he sharpened the axe and took the chicken out to the woods at 7am and dealt with it by himself.  She has joined the chicks in the little cemetery in the woods, as we don’t know what sort of bug made her paralyzed like that, and didn’t really want to eat sick chicken.   Hubby said the experience was “gruesome”, but he thinks slaughter time will go fine.  I am proud of him – he has never killed anything bigger than a mosquito before, but he was able to do the humane thing, and made a clean kill.

The Dessert:

Last week, I was experimenting with making candied peel, and tried making candied ginger while I was at it.  A few years ago, Mom had this lovely box of chocolates that had candied ginger in the centres, and taste-testing my home-made candied ginger reminded me of that for some reason.  I had a chunk of Bernard Callebeaut dark chocolate in the pantry, bought for some long-forgotten recipe that I failed to get around to, so I broke out the candy molds and the double boiler.  I made half with the candied ginger, but Hubby is not a big ginger guy, so at his request, I filled the other half with dollops of saskatoon berry jam that I made earlier this week.  Both types were fantastic, but they look exactly the same, so we have to be careful which end of the mold each chocolate comes from, lest Hubby get a nasty surprise!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »