Garden, Plant, Cook!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Harvest, Use, Preserve and Making Bouillon Powder!

Dear Folks,

Recent harvests from the garden and preserving through sun and refrigerator drying, have given us some great foods to enjoy now and then later.

Our Moro Blood Orange is still giving us nice fruit into May.  Rather than just eat one orange, we pick 2 or 3 and section, keep in the frig and snack on them through the day.

Peaches, tomatoes and Acerola Cherries are more of the lovely fruit we are gathering.  LOTS of tomatoes coming on from last year's vines which did not just give up but gave us fruit until about end of January and re-started putting on fruit again in late Feb to Mid March and we are reaping the bounty now.  The Acerola Cherries, one of the super fruits, is giving me several every day, if the birds don't get them first.  I've learned to pick not-quite-ripe to beat the birds as these are one of those fruits which continues to ripen after picking.  Our dear Florida Prince Peach is getting quite elderly (21 years old) but has given us some fruit this year.

So that is the "pretty" offerings.  Now for some gnarly but still great veggies.  Our Chantenay Carrot - one of my absolutely favorites for its outstanding flavor no matter the age or size - gnarly or pretty.  And one of the red beet varieties.  We had quite the time with all of the roots crops this year as the fall and winter excess warm weather delayed both the seed germination (they like their soil cool for germinating and growing) and good growth, so while I was checking regularly for good harvest size, I got distracted with other things in the garden and just let these go.  I still have more to harvest and cook up.  After trimming up, I roasted most of these and saved some of the carrot for my dried bouillon recipe (below).

I have a major concern this year that I will get a repeat of NO garlic, as happened last year due to the excessive heat and insufficient chill hours.  I did get "some" garlic scapes this week and with the tomatoes I am planning on roasting these together to make the base for a sauce.

So, garlic also needs chills hours to eventually produce the head of cloves we look for.  I got nothing last year, no scapes ever appeared.  I am a little more hopeful this year, however these scapes are under-sized.  We shall see if, when the plants start to die back, there is evidence of clove formation.

In the meantime, I harvested two not-matured-garlic and a huge leek.  I trimmed all, removing any hard core, kept the white bulb and a smidge of green from each (composted the rest).  I finely minced the garlic and finely sliced the leeks and put them on one of my trays to dry in the sun (garlic on the bottom).  I will jar up, label and keep for use when dried leek or garlic will do.

In the past, just an FYI, I have used a garlic press to extract the "meat" of garlic cloves and then sun dried them.  The consistency is more granular from the formed garlic cloves.

I harvested a bunch of my celery (red and green). I love growing this in the garden as I can just cut however many stalks I want without pulling up the whole plant.  These nice batch is ready to use fresh (I chopped in a salad) and drying in the frig AND for use in my bouillon recipe.

Here is some of the celery drying on my rack in the refrigerator.  This mimics the commercial freeze-drying process with the constant removal of excess moisture in a cool environment.

Now for the Bouillon.

I wish you could smell and taste the aroma and flavor of this blend of vegetables and herbs from the garden.  I started doing this a couple of years ago, after reading what EXACTLY is usually in bouillon powder or cubes and wanting to leave OUT the things I did not like in them.  I searched around for recipes, change a lot of the ingredients (things like chicken broth or beef broth powder - OUT) and thought about what I PUT into my own stocks/broths when I make them.  I wound up with about 2 ounces dried or approximately 2-3 tablespoons. Sounds like a little, right?  You will find if you choose to use this, a little goes a long way.  Think about the way you may choose to use dried rosemary or thyme in a recipe and use that measurement as a guide.  I use to help a soup along, I've used in salad dressings, only adjusting salt, sprinkled on steamed or roasted vegetables, and tossing foods like cooked grains or pasta with some.  Limited only to your imagination.

Ready to Dry.
I needed to make up a batch.

Everything in this mix is from my garden.  Carrots, I'itoi onion tops (a shallot like flavor), celery, sorrel and sweet potato leaves, basil, rosemary, conehead thyme and some sweet peppers.  I also added some slivered asparagus I had dried earlier.

You may be wondering about the "greens" in addition to the obvious carrot, celery, onion and herbs and why no garlic. [Note: you can see how much the mass has shrunk to dried state.  It is VERY important that you spread out things to dry completely dry so you do not have any mold issues.]

The greens give extra flavor and "fullness" to the blend and I think adding garlic to the base blend may limit use.  You can (and I do) add garlic to some of the ways I use this outstanding flavor. [Pictured in the collage is everything dried, piled ready to grind and then ground.

I do not like to lose any of the great flavor so I poured some water in the grinder and measuring cup, swished, and added to my stock "bucket" in the freezer, all ready for the next time I am making stock.  I put parings of carrots, celery, onion and chicken bones, pieces of herbs I did not use etc. in this bucket.  Makes a great tasting soup base.

Ratios for making your own.

Ratios are approximate - I used about 50% more carrot than the onion and celery (equal amounts of those).  For the herbs and greens about the amount called for in a recipe for soup or stew 5-6 sprigs total.

The celery provides some of the salt taste without adding salt as it is naturally higher in sodium than the other vegetables.

Because of that you should always taste first when using to flavor a dish before reaching for the salt shaker.

I hope you do try making your own. I think you will be delighted with the results.

Have fun with your harvests!

Reminder.  If you are interested in another opportunity to take advantage of the "Grow Your Own Food Workshop" videos and more you will need to register to be put on the list and you will be offered an opportunity to purchase access to all of the videos, but you can watch the introduction videos free. The Workshop starts May 16, 2018.   Click here.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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