Green Sour Plum Pickles

What to do with an embarrassment of Shiro plums? Some of you may have been here in the summertime when we experienced an abundance of Shiro plums and witnessed Chef Kären mutter something about “An embarrassment of Plums”. Here at Quillisascut we have been pondering this question for several years. One of our summertime quests!

Shiro Plums when ripe are a sweet, cheery sunny yellow. We have made plum jam, spicy plum sauce, and Japanese style umeboshi plums. Sometimes we have them on the table at every meal asking every one to have their daily ration of sweet yellow fruit.

Rick has taken to thinning some of the fruit from the tree so the remaining plums will get larger. Offering us an embarrassment of little under ripe green plums. The goats do like them fresh out of hand.

Then I remembered reading about mock olives made from plums and thought I would do a little research and see if I could find a recipe or two.

In my search I found they are a favored snack in the Middle East. They eat them out of hand, fresh and crunchy with a dash of salt. They are refreshing on a hot summer day.

I came across a pickle recipe that claimed “these taste just like green olives”. Hot vinegar is poured over the plums, add a few spices and let them set. The second day you drain off the vinegar brine, reheat it to boiling, let it cool a little then pour back over the plums. So far they don’t taste like olives to me, but maybe in a month they will?

Some of the Middle Eastern recipes called for covering the plums with a salt water brine. I decided to try a lacto-fermented version that are still fermenting so I don’t have the taste results, but as you can see in the picture, they look beautiful. And they will offer up wonderful probiotic benefits.

You can bet they will show up with our cheese samplers when guests arrive this summer!

Harvesting Between the Rows

I am working on making peace with weeds, especially the edible ones. All of the weeds have an important job. Probably the most important is clothing the soil (soil doesn’t like to be naked)! Weeds move in to disturbed areas, like our open gardens, and set up camp.

This spring I have been playing with ways to cook and dress up pig weed (wild amaranth). It is a super easy plant to grow, it comes up everywhere without encouragement. It also pulls out of the ground with out to much tugging, especially when it is young and the soil is loose, and in my garden there is an abundance of these plants!

Pigweed has so many great characteristics. It draws nutrients up from down deep in the soil, bringing nutrition to the plants that come up next. It shades the soil and helps keep it moist. It doesn’t seem to have pests, the leaf miners leave it alone, no worms on the leaves, no aphids, the deer don’t even seem to eat it.

Most important it is delicious. It tastes similar to spinach. I like it cooked better then raw, although the tiny seedlings can be used as micro greens!

The stems are my favorite part, especially when they get longer and fatter, but before they get tough. Pan-fried in a little oilive oil and seasoned with salt, they were reminiscent of asparagus. Chopped stems can be steamed like green beans. But the bulk of the greens are wonderful quickly stir fried until bright green and tender, they taste fresh and retain a little crunchy texture, or braised until they soften into a creamy mouth full of joy.

Simply top with butter or olive oil, maybe a splash of vinegar. Serve them with a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce, or as I did last night, pour on a glaze of walnut oil and top with toasted walnuts.

You can dress it up with bacon or any pork product to add a layer of flavor. Our friend Roong said it is a familiar green from his home in Thailand, he braised some for us with a bit of bacon and onions. And when Gary Nabhan was here he cooked up the greens with some spices and used them to fill empanadas for dinner.

Yep, these weeds are turning in to one of my favorite garden foods, free, abundant, and delicious!

MAD Inspiration

WinterPathW

Winter is a time to reflect, to question and to envision a path forward. I found insight in this talk by Italian ethno-botanist Andrea Pieroni at the MAD symposium in Copenhagen.

Pieroni speaks about the language of food, science and culture. He believes science needs to step back and learn from traditional knowledge, that the scientific taxonomy of plants doesn’t tell us the human stories about communities of people, plants and their relationships. How plants are celebrated, prepared or eaten is often narrated in the context of traditional names of common plants. Andrea states that the cultural information becomes lost in the language of science.

Andrea’s challenge to build a platform to educate young people and all of us about where our food comes from inspires us.

We have built our vision of this educational platform on our farm, check out the 2015 workshops. Now we need you to share the vision, help us make 2015 Quillisascut Farm workshops the best ever! Sign-up, tell your friends, the table is set.

Here is Andrea Pieroni at the 2012 MAD Symposium.

Transplanting Carrot Tutorial

My sister has a lovely garden, last year she decided to try transplanting some of the tiny carrot plants. Some of you may have had this idea. Carrot seeds are small and planting a row can be tedious, maybe transplanting could solve the problems of weeds crowding out the baby plants and the need for heavy thinning later when the plants are established. I asked her to share her carrot transplanting experience with us.

Training Your Carrots To Sit
or
Don’t Transplant Your Carrots

Not all carrots will sit. One must practice patience and balance. Sorting through the carrots after they are clipped and scrubbed, the better students will show themselves. Don’t even try to train the hugging, the kicking, or the straight (where did THAT one come from?) carrots. Set them aside for other displays or possibly for eating.

To gain the properly trained carrots for sitting, plant your carrot seeds as usual. When they are about an inch to an inch and a half high, dig them up with a knitting needle. Poke a new hole for the transplant and place the baby carrot down in the new hole. Guide it in with the knitting needle. Because the hair-like roots have been moved, the carrot will grow in a new and unique shape. Early fall dig your special vegetables. Sort them carefully to find the ones bent at a 90 degree angle. These will sit the best. Be advised that the carrots must be screened and censored for X-rated forms and positions.

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As Janae said, all carrots are not as well schooled in sitting here are some of the rejects (or x-rated).IMG_0938

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