Early Harvests

Netting the cherries to keep the birds away as they start to turn red

Seems like so much is happening on the farm, so rapidly, that I can’t write quickly enough.  I don’t feel I’m doing a very good job capturing the normal sequence and pace of things here.  For example, we’ve already harvested and processed the cherries, before I even had a chance to write about putting the nets on the trees to keep the birds out.  (I wanted to a whole post on organic pest control techniques I wish I had known about years ago – and perhaps I still will.)  I had a great time punching out the cherry pits while listening to bluegrass music in M’s kitchen.  We froze bags of berries for use in pies in the fall and winter.

The cherry harvest and pitter.

5 cups of cherries makes a pie!

A local farmer donated his June berry orchard to us for an afternoon as well, and we picked until our fingertips were stained purple.  I still have a purple-brownish stain under my fingernails and at the base around my cuticles that I can’t get out no matter how much I scrub.

T picking, and eating, Juneberries

Z picking berries

These sweet little reddish-purple fruits are apparently native to Canada, and spread down the Eastern part of the US via glacial movements and probably people too. Depending on your region, they may also be called Service berries, Sarvis berries, Shad berries, Saskatoon (a Cree Indian word), or one of several other names.

The reddish-purple fruit of the June berry. Looks a little like a small, softer skinned blueberry

Many grow wild as large bushes, but some people cultivate them into small trees. I had never heard of them until a couple of weeks ago when we visited T’s brother in Berea, KY, and the neighbor let us pick a few from his bush.  They were delicious, so I was thrilled to hear we had a chance here to get some.

Buckets of Juneberries

We used most of them to make jam, which was a first for me.  T and M did most of the work, but I got to try my hand at the mashing, boiling and canning too.

June berry mash

T stirs in sugar and pectin and brings the mash to a boil.

The hot water canner

The rest we froze to use in pancakes, smoothies, and salads.  Oh, and I made a berry pie, which was also a first for me!  For those who have never tasted a June berry, to me they are like a cross between a blueberry and Champaign grapes.

My very first berry pie. Ever. In my entire life. (Though the crust was entirely M's doing).

Pie and Ice cream

In the last week or so we have also been harvesting and eating the flower buds from the garlic plants.  I love the other-worldly, Dr. Suessian look of these curly-Q shoots.

Garlic flower bud. Clipping this helps the plant re-direct energy into the bulb instead of the flower

I’ve just been sautéing them in a little olive oil, but I’m sure there are much better ways to eat them.  They have a very mild taste.  In the photo below they are combined with zucchini and used in a in a stir fried rice.  The better half of that zucchini went into a delicious chocolate zucchini cake made by M.

Sauteed garlic flower and zucchini with homegrown grass fed beef and garden veggie stew.

Garden salad with Juneberries and garden peas, with stir fried rice with garlic flower buds, zucchini, carrots,celery and sausage.

Zucchini chocolate cake

Speaking of zucchini, we’ve harvested a couple from the garden, and M made a lovely salad with that and some of the garden lettuce.  Oh, and remember the rooster?  Well, I finally did something with that old bird – a lovely Coq au Vin al la Martha.

Coq au Vin with M's lettuce, zucchini, and rice salad.

The only change I made to the recipe was to fry a little bacon in the pot at the beginning, per Julia Child’s suggestion, in her classic tome, which I hardly need to link to since everyone knows what it is.  We used a pressure cooker because we anticipated the meat being very tough, and it worked nicely to soften it up.

More coming later this week on work and play in small town life, including a rodeo!


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