We recently had our summer harvesting and preserving ‘How to Grow Your Own Food’ workshops here on The Food Farm.
Full weekend of summer Grow Your Own Food Workshops
Michael showing people how to tell if fruit is ready to be harvested
Teaching people how to make passata, quick pickles, fermenting, bottling... all the things!
I tell the workshop attendees that the most successful ingredient is time. We often spend lots of energy and effort sowing, propagating and weeding, but underestimate the amount of time it takes to harvest.
if growing food was a pie (and sometimes it is!), then harvesting would take up half of the pie, and every other activity would be the rest of the pie. In other words, it’s huge part of the whole thing!
For that reason, planning and realistic expectations are really important. February is our hottest month, and when much of our fruit is ready. Add to that seeds, tomatoes and other vegetables like corn, pickles and beans, and it’s all hands on deck.
Nick with the head torch on processing tomatoes.
We have long days at this time of year. Often we’re up before the sun to take advantage of the cooler hours, and the oven seems a much more attractive prospect as the evening cools. These hours are also a great time to harvest.
Passata machine which separates the skins and seeds from the pulp.
We use the outside wood oven a lot and the vine covering the terrace creates a cool room to work in. We do a lot of fermenting here, so I often think about all the interesting natural yeasts and bacteria that find their way into the tendrils and bark of the glory vine above us.
The outdoor kitchen that is the vine-covered terrace.
Every year brings new techniques and ideas, and I love the family of chefs and cooks we have in our network who feed us ideas and results from their own experiments.
Bottles of passata made from our home-grown tomatoes. Result!
This year we added sulphur-drying to our repertoire. A way to dehydrate fruit without it being too ‘chewy-chip’ like. The sulphur acts as a preservative so you don’t have to take the fruit to such a dry stage in order to preserve it. Much like the dried fruit in the shops (except about 100 times better)!
Sulphur dried plums.
Here’s the recipe:
5 litres cold water
50g potassium metabisulphite*
Dissolve it all in a 10 litre bucket.
Put apricot halves in there for 12-15 hours
Peaches 20-24 hours
Nectarines 15-20 hours
Pears 24-30 hours
Rinse well in fresh water & dehydrate cut side facing up. Dehydration time will depend on the dehydrator and weather. If you go too far you can always sprinkle with a little water to soften.
*metabisulphite can be found in home brew shops or Bin Inn or farm stores such as Farmlands/ PGG etc.
**Sulphur does cause a reaction for people with asthma etc, so take some precautions and use a ventilated space.
Permaculture has a lot to say about this time of year as well, the 12 principles include ‘Catch & Store Energy’, ‘Obtain a Yield’ and ‘Produce No Waste’.
Obtaining a yield!
February feels like a real peak of energy, before we slide into the cooler, quieter months ahead. Make time to get out there and reap the rewards of all your efforts.
(If you want to join us for the Autumn, Winter or Spring workshops you can find more info here.)