Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Around and From the Garden - May 29th

Dear Folks,

My caper berries are coming in!  Now starting the fermenting to get some of these delicious berries ready for eating.

Capers are most known for the pickled or fermented unopened flower bud, but if you let the flower go to maturity it produces a berry and bigger harvest and delicious fruit.  More 'bang' for your time as it were.

Caper buds or berries horribly bitter so the bitterness needs to be removed. There are multiple ways to process the buds or berries.  I use a brine fermentation which gives a nice flavor without the harsh vinegar of typical pickling AND gives us the side benefit of beneficial bacteria as the brining causes friendly bacteria to culture the fruit in a process similar to culturing yogurt.

I use a simple salt solution of 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to 1 cup of hot water.  Stir to dissolve and let cool before using.  I keep a jar pre-mixed on hand to immediately be able to start fermenting garden produce.  For the capers I pierce the end with a toothpick, cover with the brine, weighed down to keep everything submerged and let sit loosely covered on the counter for 10-20 days depending on taste.  The fermenting vegetables release gas which needs to escape.


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Back to fermenting foods from the garden . . .

I harvested potatoes, a hidden sweet potato, my first cucumber (a yellow variety) and our first crook neck squash the other day and immediately set to fermenting some of the cucumber. 

Shown for pickling the cucumber is some of my dried garlic and dill along with a few nasturtium leaves which help keep the finished cucumber crisp.

I use the same brine recipe for cucumbers as I do with the caper berries.

My first attempt to grow peanuts where I actually understand the process and the flowers are starting to come out.  The next unique phase is they need to grow tall enough to then bend over and bury into the ground to grow the actually "ground nuts".  So happy to see them at this point.  The speckling you see on some of the leaves is insect damage which I am treating with safe soap spray. 

One of the "neighbors" stopped by and I was able to get a great picture before it launched off our clothes line.  The wild Peach-Faced Love bird, we call "The Cheepy Guys" for their chatter are the result of an escape 40 something years ago.  The State fish and game deemed them a non-threat to native birds so they have bred throughout the valley.  Colorful and fun to watch. 

My Roselle (Hibiscus Sabdriffa) are coming along nicely.  I chose a different spot to grow them this year.  I am looking forward to using the leaves for my summer salad mix (roselle, Egyptian spinach and sweet potato) while the plant gets to the fall stage of producing the gorgeous burgundy flower calyx.

The dried calyx from last year's roselle harvest and they colored and flavored this sun tea mix of green tea, dried ginger peel (when I harvested my ginger, I dried the peel for use like this) along with a nice sprig of my fresh Stevia.

I enjoy unsweetened flavored seltzers during the hot times, so last night I made a "mocktail" for a visit with a friend of half of this lovely tea and flavored seltzer.  Nice and refreshing and no calories, just the great flavor and benefits of the green tea, roselle and stevia.

Lastly I want to share a nice link from The Essential Herbal on making herbal "pastes" aka pestos.

I hope you have a lovely week in the garden and kitchen with your bounty!

All my books and calendars are available through links on the side bar here on the blog, and through my website.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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