Sunday, 10 August 2014

A walk around the food shelves......


It is the season of plenty...
and, as with all veg plot people, we are harvesting,
and the shelves in the food storage / temporary kitchen are filling...


So, top left hand side of shelf: various jars of canned fruit, (cherries, yellow plums, greengages, and apricots) This is the first time I have canned fruit. So these jars are experimental ones. I am sure that the pigs will enjoy them should the contents taste horrid. Beneath these jars is the entire contents of my purchased food, the largest stash being the flour and sugar shelf. At one time I would have had cupboards full of bought-in food, but now we are managing to provide at least 75% of our own food, if not more.


..and moving along...the top shelf is our jam stash, and the next shelf down is the dehydrated stores. I am not very organised with this stock of food, forgetting to rehydrate it in advance of it being used, but I am going to try harder to be organised this year. In view is last year's jar of homegrown onions, and the green jar contains the first of this year's courgette harvest. 

As with most of you folk who are growing courgettes, the harvest is astonishing, this being the first year of 'proper' courgette growing. 


Not so lucky with the tomatoes though. The lack of continuous sunshine and the frequent storms has taken its toll on our tomato harvest. Not to worry, last year I learnt that green tomatoes are actually tasty in their own right, so I shall can up our harvest so it won't be wasted. These, though, are 'wasted' because I was too busy to get them processed, so to the pigs they will go. They will have to be cooked down into a mush though because the pigs don't like them very much.


But I have managed to get some of the courgettes processed, and these are just going into the dehydrator together with the last of the greengages....


...moving along the shelves, and this large white thing is a South African pumpkin, grown by Lester specifically, because he is from South Africa and growing them brings back memories. However, I do not have the foggiest idea as to what to do with this large piece of veg. Any ideas?


Oh dear..... this is our meat jar shelf, and it is very spartan....only six jars or meat, the rest have other things in them. But we do still have three freezers which are still about three quarters full of assorted types of meat, so I need to get a move on and get some more jars processed so I can space in those freezers for the meat harvest coming in towards the end of the year.


....and some dehydrated food stuffs (onions, courgettes, apples, lemon peel, mushrooms, beetroot, etc.....) As I have said, I am not very efficient with the rehydrating of these food items but I shall try to do better this year. The jars on the right are the remains of last year's harvest, being some chutneys and jar or two of fig jam.


More dehydrated stores: apples, spearmint, coriander seeds, etc. 


...and below that shelf is the the start of the canned potatoes. Fourteen Thirteen so far, one having been given away, and lots more to do. This is a staple fast food for us, and worth the time and effort to get those jars done.


So these are some of the food stored on our shelves. However, upon close examination of some of those wooden shelves, I noticed a slight bowing of the wood here and there. Now it might have been my imagination, but the thought of waking up in the middle of the night by the sound of all those jars crashing to the floor as those shelves collapsed filled me with dread, so off to the local DIY shop for the purchase of some more robust steel shelving, that is what we did yesterday afternoon. 

Today, it being Sunday, there came upon me such a tiredness that I thought it best to have a slow day. But Lester was in the mood to assemble the shelves, so I thought better of trying to persuade him that Sunday should be a day of rest, otherwise Project Shelves might be delayed by weeks, and I could not stand the thought of living in expectation of those shelves collapsing......so all those shelves, which you have just seen, had to be emptied.....and this became exposed....


....one huge oak beam, left over from when the roof was put on. We knew it was there, because this was a favourite mice and rat run, although the rats are not in residence at the moment, but only yesterday there was a deceased mouse laying by the freezer. One day all the rat and mice holes will be blocked up. I am not sure if it will be in my lifetime though! Not to worry, this rat and mouse problem is an inherited one because the house was left unoccupied for many years before we came here, allowing the rodent population to become firmly established. We are beating them back. 

Lester said that he would be using that beam in the lounge, and said that to leave it there until such time as it was needed. I said no, that it was not a good idea, because 1) it would remain a highway for mice and rats to get from one side of the room to the other unseen, and 2) that when the beam was needed every single item would have to be removed from the shelves so that the shelves could be moved so that the beam could be got at. 

So we pushed, and shoved, and slid that very heavy beam across the floor. It is now in the dining room....


...and it is protruding out across the doorway, inviting all to trip over it. Not to worry, I shall put a chair in front of it. It will be a squeeze to get through the doorway, but at least no one, (me actually) will not trip over the beam.


New shelves now in place, one more still to do.......the shelves are nice and tidy, but everywhere else isn't.....but the rat / mouse highway is no more...



....and in the middle of all this muddle, I managed to find a space on the cooker to get some lunch cooked. The big pot is green tomatoes being cooked up for the pigs, but I had to take the green tomato chutney off the stove because of lack of space. That still remains uncooked and has now become a project for tomorrow morning. 

But at least the dehydrated courgettes and greengages got done.....




....and they taste yummy. Dehydration heightens the taste of food, making it a good food to snack on. 

And now I am done with the day. The new shelves remain half empty because half way through this afternoon Sunday-itus got hold of me and I took myself and my old fragile sunbed out to the front garden, and snoozed, and watched the leaves of the trees, and the clouds up in the sky, and thought how lovely it was to be a smallholder who was standing down from 'doing' smallholding for a precious hour or so!

Hope you had a relaxed and happy Sunday, and hope you all have a good week....
Vx

12 comments:

Tim said...

Vera, I see you have an Excalibur dehydrator....
as you have rampant tomato blight, you will not be able to successss-folly bottle them....
"Old Blighty" chutney is a good way to go....
great on bread, cold meats, etc...
and excellent in soups and stews!!
However, green tomatoes dehydrate very well and can be chucked into soopz and stues, used in bread...
tomato and olive foccacia springs to mind.
Or you could make 'leathers'....
you do NOT need the expensive Paraflex sheets...
I use two sheets of siliconized baking parchment...
and your local Simply Market or Auchan do real silicone baking sheets...
at 2€ [and look exactly like the Paraflex sheets without the wording]...
spread your thick puree on a sheet on the mesh...
dehydrate until dry and flexible.
Roll up in siliconised or sulphurized baking sheet for storage...
can be eaten as a savory chew.
Or dehydrate further and grind up as a soup powder.
There's so much you can do with an Excalibur!!
But don't can/bottle blighted toms!!
Unless you've cooked them into something else first.
PS: They also make very good jam!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

wow! that is a ton of work - great job! i laughed because I cant grow a zucchini to save my life. thankfully so many other people do that they start handing them out to anyone who will take them. we scored a huge box this weekend - and i'm making zucchini bread right now. as for that amazing pumpkin - cook it right down and freeze the puree... so you can make a pie later. it looks delish!

Vera said...

Tim, thanks so much for the dehydrating info. I bought the Excalibur last year, dehydrated loads but then kept forgetting what I had stored! As for green tomatoes with blight: I cut the blighted patches off, slice them, then can them in my All American Canner. I did some last year, and they turned out really well...I put them in curries, soups, etc, and those tomatoes always tasted fine. But I shall have a go at dehydrating them! I have just made green tomato chutney, and am off out into the garden to see if I can find some more. I actually prefer green tomatoes! Thanks once again for taking the time to give me the dehydrator info.

Ohiofarmgirl, I find it comforting to know that there are others out there in the World who are busy harvesting as well! Thanks for the idea about the pumpkin, as for zucchini....this is the first year that we have been successful with growing them and crikey, they are growing with a mania which is almost unbelievable!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Oh wow I like the look of that dehydrator, food for thought!!

The pumpkin makes great soup and they are just delicious roasted in the oven. The Americans are inclined to use the as a sweet, where us South Africans use them far more as a vegetable.

Have a great day. Diane

Kev Alviti said...

Amazing! I love how much you've got stored. I need a big pantry to do just what you are. When you dehydrate courgettes what do you do with tehm and what do you add them to? (what type of meals etc?)
If you want to block up the rat holes in a way that's quick and will be easy to remove when you want to do it properly - fill them with expanding foam and then push in wire wool while it's still wet. They can't/won't chew through the wire wool so it should keep them at bay. I hate having the things in the house so I'll do anything to keep them out!

Vera said...

Diane, the dehydrator is an Excalibur. It was the biggest one I could find, and therefore the most expensive, but it has been worth the cost. As for pumpkin.....I shall have to experiment with the American and South African ways of cooking with it. I was given a portion of raw pumpkin to try last year and I made it into soup, which I didn't like at all!

Kev, thanks for the rat hole solution. We shall win the battle, of that I am sure.....eventually!

Space is a problem when the harvests start coming in! But the more space you have the more space you need! I have already realised that those new shelves are not going to be big enough!

As for courgettes: I did not do too many last year so we ate them as snacks. I put an assortment of dried veg and fruit into a jar and put it in our computer area, then we can have healthy nibbles and stops the urge for Lester to want peanuts and crisps, which is an old UK eating habit of his! Mine is chocolate, and that is also diverted by the fruit and veg nibbles. But this year we have lots of courgettes so I shall use them as winter nibbles, and rehydrate them to use in soups and stews and anything else I can think of.
I have just dehydrated some apples sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, which your girls would love. Have also dehydrated bananas, and other fruit. Beetroot and courgette turn out very sweet as well. Good snacks for little children. Good snacks for grown ups as well!

Kev Alviti said...

What do the courgettes taste like? Do you add salt or seasoning? I might have to try this. I did used to make apple crisps like that so maybe I'll try it again as loke you said ita a good snack for the little ones.

Marie said...

That is some pantry!! My gosh you are a busy girl preserving all that produce. I love your space and I think I now what a dehydrator also :-)

northsider dave said...

I love your pantry Vera. Have you got a cat? It will sort any vermin problem for you.

Vera said...

Kev, the courgettes taste quite sweet when they are dehydrated. But the bonus to eating dehydrated fruit and veg is that it is a thoroughly healthy snack food and does not contain any flavour enhances or other somesuch chemical rubbish. One can snack and keep one's halo bright and shiny at the same time. And no, I do not season the courgettes, but will keep that as a possible idea in the future.

Marie, my dehydrator has proved to be a good investment, although I am not using it anywhere near as much as it should be used. But I am getting more organised with being a smallholder, so should improve my dehydrating skills eventually!

Northsider Dave, we did try keeping a cat last year, but it kept toiletting everywhere although it had a dirt box provided for such tasks. Plus it would climb up to get at any food left out, so we decided to go catless. Perhaps when we are more organised.......

Mizumatte said...

what job your have done and stll have to do, but so much secure to have all that food for months to come. I get a get a feeling of old time, for really long time My grandparents had your kind of living except all that renovation. Have good harvest days. Jaana
Ps. I have now started slowly blogging but are on holidays just now.

Vera said...

Mizumatte, I feel very much in touch with the old ways of doing things as well, particularly when I am food prepping. It is a grand feeling!