Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ups and Downs for the year so far

Harvest time is so exciting, and it amazes me each year the different foods which have thrived and those which have not.  So much is dependent on the weather, how hot it was, how dry it was, how wet it was, as well as the variety planted and what their optimal conditions are.

We have had a difficult year.  It was very hot and dry extremely early on in Spring (September/Oct/November), and with only a large downpour in Janaury to ease the drought a little many things have suffered.

Successes this year have included:
I have six vines, 4 varieties.  HIMROD a seedless eating grape was early, it has all been picked and either eaten or made into something.  Juices, jellies, and grapes in alcohol were some of the ways I have processed them.  I also tried fermenting fresh juice, just to see what would happen.  The old Roman way apparently to make wine, just put the juice in the sun till it ferments, bottle when fermentation has finished.  Wait 6m.  We shall see...
Our Sauvignon Blanc is coming along, I have managed to pick a few bunches so far. This is not nice eating, being quite sharp, but I hope to make some nice juice from it.
Pinot Gris is almost ready and tastes like it will be good for eating.

These have loved the weather, and I have grown many rows of lovely carrots, I even had some seed in my flower garden!
See the carrot down there under the Roses!

This benefited from a large amount of fresh rotted pig poo being added to the soil before planting.  The plants were vigorous and have many cobs each.

Usually this stuff can be difficult to grow, it often bolts to seed bypassing the "make a root" stage.  This year I was given my Mother in Laws thinnings which looked like they would die when I first put them in, but now they look amazing, the tubers are large and cook up well.  Delicious with sour cream and salt over hot boiled roots.

Failures this year
It was too hot to early for these to thrive, and once the January rain came it was too late.  Most fruit that has formed is shrivelled and nasty.  But there is so little fruit that I would be lucky to have picked 2 dozen tomatoes off about 10 plants.  Now they are dying with the cold weather coming, and there is nothing for it but to pull them out.

The seed I was given wasn't Grey Pumpkin, but Kamokamo which is a kind of squash.  I have never cooked it before, supposedly you can only eat it when younger, and I let mine get too big.  The seeds are then inedible and render the growing fairly pointless.

Kamokamo now too big to eat

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Grapes and what to do with them

The weather seems to know that March is the first month of Autumn and all of a sudden gone are the 30C+ days and nights are a lot cooler.  We even had our first frost two nights ago.

My six grapevines are getting ready to be harvested.  First ready was Himrod, an eating, white grape.  Second was the Pinot Noir, a dark black, small round, very juicy grape.  I am now picking these every day for daily fruit.  But there is a glut and so I started searching the internet for things to do with them.
Black Pinot Noir waiting to be simmered, Green Himrod for juice and Pinot Noir in a jar with Martini Mix
The first bucket of grapes 

I remember my mother talking about Grapes in Brandy, and though I trawled through our hard liquor stash I couldn't rustle up any brandy.  Voila!  the Martini mix leftover from my 50th looked pretty good, so I put grapes in a jar, and poured over Martini Mix,  It looks pretty edible and yummy...

Next I followed internet instructions for heating and mashing grapes and putting into jars for juice.  This was fun, and I processed in the Pressure Canner for 10 mins to preserve it.

Finally I fresh pressed the Himrod for fresh Grape Juice.  I'm tempted to try to turn some of it into wine..more on that later!