5 Ways to Sink Your Teeth Into Apple Season

apples at market lisa amstutz

Is it possible to have too many apples? It’s been a bumper year for apples on our Ohio homestead. We’ve made enough applesauce for ourselves and our extended family, shared some apples, and they still keep coming. Fortunately, there are lots of other great ways to preserve this versatile fruit and enjoy eating it all winter. Here are a few delicious solutions to try. Continue reading

Applesauce Day

apples in bowl lisa amstutz

Late summer means it’s time for one of my favorite traditions: Applesauce Day. For years, the kids and I have spent a day or two each summer making a year’s worth of applesauce with my mother. It’s a family tradition that grows sweeter every year.

This year, the day was extra-special because for the first time, we did not have to buy any apples. Our young trees produced a bumper crop of chemical-free, mostly worm-free apples. We did a batch of Transparent apples and a second batch of Summer Rambos. Continue reading

Canning/Freezing Prep Checklist

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America's past, they still work great for today's home canning.

These classic clear glass jars have preserved literally tons of fruits and vegetables over the past 125 years. A true symbol of America’s past, they still work great for today’s home canning.

Summer is almost here, and our garden is ahead of schedule. We’re getting ready to put strawberries and jam in the freezer and harvest season will be here before we know it. Since I always seem to find myself hunting for missing supplies or running to the store for freezer containers while a pile of produce wilts on the counter, I came up with the following checklist to better prepare for canning and freezing this year. Hopefully you will find it useful as well! Continue reading

4 Ways to Eat Like a Farmer

canned tomatoes- ball jars

As a vegetable farmer, all season long I’m confronted with too much abundance — it’s absolutely overwhelming. In winter, though, it can feel like the opposite if I don’t prepare. So the question for me is, how can I manage the abundance of summer so that I can enjoy it into the winter?

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Simple Trick Keeps Apples and Pears Fresh In Freezer!

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Canning apples is wonderful, but sometimes you just have too many apples to get processed before they start to go bad. That’s when the freezer comes in awfully handy!

One of the great things about freezing apples is that you can thaw them for a pie, toss them with sugar and cinnamon for baked apples, or even save them to can when it’s more convenient.

There’s a trick to freezing apples, though. Do it wrong, and they’ll turn a completely unappetizing shade of brown.

In the past, I’ve tried following the recommendation of soaking apples in a bowl with lemon juice added to prevent the slices from turning brown as I processed them. But that never did really work well for me. They always seemed to turn brown no matter what I did. Continue reading

What’s in Your Refrigerator?

The refrigerators of people who are trying to live on less, leave behind smaller carbon

Proper food storage prevents spoilage and throwing out good food! Food huggers fit over almost any size jar, can or even cut vegetables to lock in freshness.

Proper food storage prevents spoilage and throwing out good food! Food huggers fit over almost any size jar, can or even cut vegetables to lock in freshness.

footprints and do more for themselves look very different from the refrigerators of people who are less concerned with those ideals. You don’t see many packaged foods, name brands or fancy labels in frugal refrigerators. What you do see are Mason jars filled with home processed or bulk purchased food, home-made goodies and leftover bit and dabs that will be turned into good meals for hungry families.

I cleaned out my refrigerator this week. I had a few things that had seen better days. Those brown apple cores will go to feed our chickens or pigs. The wilted greens go to the worm farm or the compost pile. Jars of water from cooking vegetables will go into stock. Bread crusts will turn into stuffing or pudding. Hard cheese will grace a casserole. Nothing much goes to waste around here. Continue reading

Sweet and Savory Strawberry Season Gems

Strawberry season has always been a favorite time of the year, with a bounty of sweet,

Ready to pick your own berries? The baskets are ready - at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Ready to pick your own berries? The baskets are ready – at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

juicy, ruby-red strawberries picked fresh from your backyard patch, at a pick-your-own field or purchased from local farmer’s markets. While growing up I enjoyed a great variety of homemade jams and other strawberry treats.

Strawberries have always provided a sweet gem to be preserved and enjoyed even in the darkest part of winter. And, they are so easy to put up while in season! Cut tops off berries, wash and pat dry, then spread on wax paper-lined baking sheets and place in the freezer. When berries are frozen hard, place in freezer bags or containers and refreeze until ready to use. 

Fresh strawberries help your family eat a diet that is rich in fruits. Enjoy these gems both in savory and dessert foods. Impress guests with a classic shortcake or sink your teeth into something new – strawberry chutney slathered on grilled pork loin. Yum!

 

Old-Fashioned Double-Layer Strawberry Shortcake
A true classic.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 pints of fresh strawberries
  2. ½ cup of sugar if needed
  3. 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 4 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 2 tablespoons white sugar
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/3 cup shortening – Lard was the original shortening used – I use Crisco™
  8. 1 egg - beaten
  9. 2/3 cup cold milk
  10. 2 cups whipped heavy cream – don’t cut corners – make your own
Instructions
  1. Slice the strawberries and toss them with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  3. Grease and flour one 8 inch round cake pan.
  4. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons white sugar and the salt. With a pastry blender cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk. Stir until just combined.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.
  6. Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. Place half of the berries on one layer of the cake and top with the other layer of cake. Top with remaining berries and cover with the whipped cream.
Lehman's Country Life http://blog.lehmans.com/
Fresh Strawberry Chutney
This savory concoction is a wonderful glaze for pork loin roast or grilled pork. It becomes more mellow in flavor the longer it is kept.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 lb strawberries
  2. 1/2 lb onions
  3. 1 lb sugar
  4. 1/2 pint water
  5. 1/2 oz salt
  6. 1 tbsp ground ginger
  7. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. 1 pint vinegar
Instructions
  1. Top the berries, and chop roughly. Chop the onions finely and cook with the berries in the water until they are well softened. Add the other ingredients, and simmer until the chutney becomes thick, stirring occasionally. Bottle while hot and cover immediately.
Lehman's Country Life http://blog.lehmans.com/
Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie
I love this recipe for a breakfast on the go. No sugar is a big help if you’re diabetic like I am.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  2. ½ to 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
  3. Banana - can use frozen in slices or fresh
  4. (Add other soft fruit as desired, in season: peach, apricot, plum, blueberries, raspberries)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. No sugar is needed because of the natural sweetness of the fruit.
Lehman's Country Life http://blog.lehmans.com/

Growing Great Asparagus

I’ve been learning a lot about permaculture in the past decade and while I subscribe to asparagus tipsmany of the theories, I do worry that many people who could benefit are turned off by the intensity of people teaching the subject. You don’t actually need classes or certificates nor do you need to dig up your entire backyard. It’s possible to engage in permaculture just by using plant varieties that will provide a source of food over decades.

One of our most productive, perennial food sources is asparagus. We put in bed in many years ago. Each spring we indulge. We eat asparagus steamed, roasted and chilled with a vinaigrette. When we tire of eating it fresh, we dry some (read on for how-to) for winter soups and pickle some, too. Asparagus is also easily frozen.

How to Start and Maintain an Asparagus Bed

A well-planned, well-maintained asparagus bed will produce every spring for decades! Asparagus needs full sun and should begin in a spot with a rich, sandy loam. It gets tall when it goes to seed, so don’t plant it where it will shade other sun-loving plants. You can start from seed (I have a tray of seeds starting right now) but you’ll wait a long time for your first meal. Most people choose to start with roots. They are usually sold in bunches of 25.  Continue reading

Eat Local All Year: Plan Now for Preserving Season

It’s easy to eat local in Massachusetts in August. Sweet corn, vine ripened tomatoes, tender green beans, creamy milk and abundant eggs make consuming local food a treat. canned cherriesBut come the dark days of January, that local diet is a lot harder to manage. That’s what food preservation is all about. You take what’s cheap, plentiful and delicious at the peak of its freshness and preserve it for later use. Preservation is all about manipulating the environment of food so it retains its goodness for months or even years.

Food has a lot of enemies. Microorganisms (mold, yeasts and bacteria) are enemies of food. So is physical damage (one bad apple really will spoil the whole bag). Enzymes that cause food to ripen don’t halt their work when food is harvested. They continue to work until that lovely cantaloupe becomes a sodden mass destined for the compost heap. Food preservation works by controlling the temperature (freezing and root cellaring) removing moisture (dehydrating) or killing mold, yeast and bacteria and then protecting from further contamination by removing and excluding air (canning). You can also change the environment of food by adding salt, sugar or vinegar. Continue reading