Organic, Chemical Free Garlic

Garlic is one of our favorite ingredients and is used and consumed daily.

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When I arrived at my present abode about 5 years ago, the entire garden was one large ball of heavy clay. Even the raised garden beds were totally clay and I cannot understand why people would go to the trouble of creating a raised garden at huge expense and then fill it with clay. Furthermore the garden was covered with plastic ground sheets which in turn was covered by a layer of pebbles. The soil (clay) underneath all of this resembled an old rubbish dump with steel and metal (including old engines) interspersed with glass, rocks, plastic and concrete – this is the 21 st century. I have never seen any viable garden using steel, concrete, stones, glass, plastic and clay as a basis. The total arable area I have for planting food is only about 50 meters square.

Five years later and having turned the “soil” over many times supplementing with at least 800 Kg of lime and a similar amount of gypsum in several applications, as well as many Tons of Quail, Chicken and Rabbit manure and bedding.  I also have very active compost bins and worm farms, all of which goes back into the garden. In the process I have recovered and discarded many hundreds of kilograms of metal, concrete, glass, plastic, rocks and other rubbish. Each season the soils were planted to a variety of crops on a rotational basis. Unharvested greens were chopped and worked into the ground as well. For the first two years I have not seen any earthworms or any other soil live, but lately its is noticeable how the soil ecosystem has evolved and became alive and many earthworms are present.  I am proud to say that I have not once used any chemicals, purchased fertilisers (Except for gypsum and lime) or used any sprays in achieving this.

BACK TO GARLIC

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The garlic patch I have allocated to this crop for the 2019 / 2020 season is about 6 meters square and I have planted it with about 600 cloves of some of my last year’s crop as well as some purchased seed for the sake of variety, which will produce enough to eat, give away and seed for next year.

I preserve garlic in three ways.  1 – Just hang it to dry in clusters or pleated. 2 – Peel and sun dry, then seal in airtight containers.  3 – Peel and put into containers with a little bit of Olive Oil and pasteurise.

 

 

 

VINO di SAMBUCO (Elderberry Wine)

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Make sure to pick clean, ripe elderberries and remove all the leaves and stalkes. Wash well under running water.

Crush the berries to create a must –  I use my PASSATUTTO machine which works very well for this.

Once you have your must, pour it into a large enough container to hold all the product and have some spare space to allow for foaming during the first few days.  Now add about three litres of boiling water for every litre of fruit.  Close it well and leave it  for one day to sterilise the must. Add pectinase enzyme and leave for another day.  Adjust the pH and sugar contents, add your wine yeast and yeast nutrients and ferment on the must for about ten days. Remember to stir twice a day and always use clean sterilised equipment. Always close the container well to prevent contamination and fruit flies getting into the must.

After 10 days, rack and filter and adjust for sugar if required. Now pour your wine into a large enough Damigiana to make sure their is not too much air space, then put on an airlock and wait.

Rack and filter when the ferment is becoming clear and sediment is visible (about 2 – 3 weeks). Every time you work with the wine, top the Damigiana up to the neck with similar sugar content syrup or fruit juice. Airlock and ferment.

After another few weeks the fermentation will become slow and it is then time to rack, filter and top up again.

Make sure the fermentation has stopped completely before you rack, filter and bottle.

Leave it alone for a month and ENJOY!!

Cured Salmon

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Today was Salmon curing time. With a beautiful, fresh fish I like to keep things simple, adding as few flavours as possible to enhance the taste but not change it. Fish, salt, sugar and lemon rind only. Smoking overpowers the fish and all the freshness is lost. This cured Salmon recipe is so easy and tastes wonderful. I vacuum seal the cured salmon, after processing, in smaller portions and it lasts for several weeks in the fridge.

After filleting, I remove all the small pieces of flesh from the carcass and then freeze these in smaller portions for making a very tasty and quick risotto. Everything remaining – bones, head, tail, etc goes into the stock pot wit some onions, celery and carrots. Add water and reduce the liquid by at least a third before portioning and freezing.  Use the stock for soups, risotto and fish stews.   NOTHING WASTED!

Rabbit Pie

AE87D4B3-C0F6-4F5B-91FF-E11F6A1652E6Every time I shoot a rabbit or get some as a gift I make stock with the ribs, neck, tails, flanks and all the cut offs, keeping the prime cuts for roasting. Into the stock pot goes a few carrots, onions and celery. Somehow some leeks became too woody for normal use, so this time, I included those as well. Just add water and boil down to about half of the quantity you started off with. I don’t  add salt or pepper. Pour the stock off using a pasta strainer or colander and freeze the stock for soup or stews later. What is  left are  the meat and vegetables. Mrs BYF has been fretting about how to make the best use of these stock ‘leftovers’ . The chickens were never impressed with them and composting after tossing out the meat and bones seemed criminal, so she decided to spend the time and make a rabbit pie. This was delicious, well worth the time picking meat off the bones!

Rabbit Pie
Off cuts of about 4 rabbits
4 Large carrots, chopped
6 Small leeks including leaves, washed well and sliced thinly
2 Small onions chopped
3 Large cloves of garlic, chopped
6 Medium field mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons flour
3 Cups rabbit stock, more if needed
1/2 Cup sherry
Salt and Pepper
100 g Butter for frying
100 g Butter for the sauce
6 Tablespoons of olive oil
Livers, hearts and kidneys of the rabbits (optional)

Cook the stock and strain. Freeze the stock or keep in the fridge for a few days. Pick as much meat off the bones as possible, keep separate. Dice the cooked carrots. Compost the rest.

In a big enough pot to hold all the pie filling, pour the olive oil.  Fry he onion, garlic and leeks over low heat until soft and translucent. Add the carrots. Meanwhile fry the mushrooms in some of the butter until almost cooked, add to the vegetables. Stir a few times and cook for a few minutes until heated through. At this stage I fried the livers, hearts and kidneys in a bit of butter and added them to the mix. I suppose you could use chicken livers, but this is optional. Add all the fine rabbit meat you picked from the bones. In another pan, melt about 150 g butter, add the flour and salt and pepper. This will make a paste or roux , cook for a minute without burning. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring fast, until you have a thick gravy. Add the sherry, and pour the gravy into the pie mix.  Mix well and heat through.

I made one pie big enough for 3 and 4 small individual pies. With the leftover pie filling I intend to make small hand pies.

We had a lot of very tasty pie filling from ingredients we used to throw out or give to the chickens! Zero waste is still our goal!

Do not store your Potatoes too well !

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I harvested about 80 kg of potatoes from my garden three months ago and was very chuffed because I would have had enough potatoes to keep my grandson, who is an absolute potato fiend in great organic potatoes for a very long time as well as having a bit over for the rest of the family.  I  very carefully stored the potatoes in plastic drums – one layer of potatoes followed by a layer of hay repeatedly until full. I filled about 5 X 25 liter drums, tightly sealed them and stored them in a cool dry place out of the sun – at the southern side of the house. The unforeseen, by me, has happened and the potatoes which were VERY GOOD for some months have gone sweet. Grandson does not eat sweet potatoes so he has refused my lovely baked offerings for the last few meals and reproached me for planting sweet potatoes instead of the real stuff. Knowing that I did not plant sweet potatoes I decided to read up. Apparently the place where I stored my precious harvest was too cold. Easy mistake to make in Dunedin, especially during the end of winter. Here is a link to the article explaining why cold potatoes become sweet https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/cold-potatoes-black-bananas/

The next crop would be stored in a warmer space with a north facing window and wall! Never too old to learn. I now have a lot of sweet potatoes to eat myself, but there is hope as you presumably could partially reverse the sweetening process – next experiment!