Those Grapes With The Funny Names Are Delicious

Yoder's Muscadine Grape Seed & Skin Extract

Yoder’s Muscadine Grape Seed & Skin Extract

When I first moved to the South and heard somebody talking about “Scuppernongs” and “Muscadines”, I immediately assumed the funny words I was hearing were the product of the foreign-to-me accent I still wasn’t accustomed to. What are they trying to say? I wondered. It wasn’t until much later, when I actually saw the words written somewhere, that I realized these were the actual names of a variety of grapes native to the Southeast US.

The weather’s been mild where we are, in the upper South, so we’re just finishing our Scuppernong and Muscadine harvest. They’re not hard to grow.

One of the first fruits we planted here on our homestead were Scuppernong grapes. We love them because they are particularly hardy, and grow well in our poor red clay soil. Scuppernongs are actually the “white grape” of the Muscadine family. Muscadines are typically a very deep shade of purple. Continue reading

“I LOVE My Steam Juicer!”

Great Grapes Storey Books pamphlet

Learn how to grow your own tasty grapes! In stock now at Lehmans.com or at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

As the days speed into winter and fall’s mildness is becoming a memory here in the Upper Midwest, many of us are frantically trying to get everything “put by” for winter. I’ve become quite close to my steam juicer.

We here at Ash Lane Farm have a lovely vine of concord grapes and two heritage apple trees that I try to get into juice every year.

I am allergic to bees so I have to depend on the kindness of my husband, Norm, to take time from his busy life to pick the grapes and the apples.  But once they come inside, they are mine to do as I wish.

We like apple butter, apple sauce and grape jelly, and unsweetened gape and apple juices.  Plus, I make a wonderful apple brandy to give as gifts each year as well as have some for us. We also got elderberries from my sister to make into syrups for colds and coughs. Continue reading

Talking Turkey About Raising Turkeys At Barefoot Farm

Kathy Harrison, author; Lehman's guest blogger; and human being, just like the rest of us!

Kathy Harrison, author; Lehman’s guest blogger; and human being, just like the rest of us!

We’re Not All Martha Stewart
It’s tempting, when you read a blog post, to believe that the farming life is all fun and accomplishment. Who, after all, is inclined to write about their mistakes and disappointments? Well me, for one. If I only wrote about my successes, I would run out of material in the first week.

Here’s the truth of it. A whole lot of my life is just one disaster after the other. I may write about digging parsnips but I’m not going to waste a lot of ink on how many got eaten by voles. I will tell you about making cheese but not spend a lot of time on the many times my efforts fed the pigs rather than people. And don’t get me going on the fruit. My strawberry pictures were gorgeous but I’m not posting the pictures of the joys of trying to get the row covers on in the wind.

So when I tell you all about the pleasure of canning turkey and how good it tastes and how convenient it is to have all the lovely jars filling up the shelves in my pantry please know that there is more to the story than a lovely afternoon in the canning kitchen. Continue reading

Apples Everywhere: Cider, Slices, Sauce & Juice

Worth the investment! Cider presses are available at Lehmans.com now.

Worth the investment! Cider presses are available at Lehmans.com now.

We live in one of the most apple-rich areas of the country. The back roads are lined with abandoned apple trees and the state forests often have old orchards where apples are free for the picking. Bruce and I put in a small orchard 8 years ago and our own trees have begun to bear fruit too, so it seemed only sensible to add an apple press to our wish list of tools and equipment. But alas, the price seemed beyond us for a sturdy one that included an apple crusher as well as a heavy duty press.

Eventually, we teamed up with three other families and bought a press to share. It has turned out to be a wonderful experience for all concerned. Because we have the sheltering summer kitchen with electricity and running water, the cider press is there year-round, ready to go. Continue reading

Garden 2014: Plan To Preserve!

Put 'Em Up is in stock now at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio and at Lehmans.com.

Put ‘Em Up is in stock now at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio and at Lehmans.com.

Sure, we all plan to plant. But how many of us plan to preserve?

For instance, when do you figure your supplies for your jars, bands, lids, freezer boxes and other preservation supplies? And what recipes do you use? Do you stick with the tried and true because it’s the last minute? After all, the harvest isn’t predicatable, right?

Well, that may be true. But this is the year you change, because Sherri Brooks Vinton has published Put ‘Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook and Put ‘Em Up! Fruit: A Preserving Guide and Cookbook, two fantastic collections that share some great ways to dry, freeze, can and preserve your garden’s and orchard’s harvest. Continue reading

Fall Foraging Yields Tasty, Juicy Results

Our Harvest Apron makes it easy to pick fall fruit! In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Our Harvest Apron makes it easy to pick fall fruit! In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Fall in New England has a multitude of treasures available nowhere else. The air is clear and the sky a cerulean blue. The first hints of orange, red and yellow show on the maple leaves and a faint smell of apple and wood smoke remind of the season to come. It’s the season of foraging. The woods are full of mushrooms. Hunting for Chanterelles, Chicken of the Woods, fall Oysters and Black Trumpets is more fun than panning for gold and you’re far more likely to be successful. The nuts are dropping but beating the squirrels to them is no easy feat.

My favorite foraging trips involve grapes. Fox grapes are easy to spot. The deep purple globes stand out amidst the large green leaves. They tend to grow in accessible spots too. Along stone walls is a likely location. The stored up heat helps the grapes ripen, I suppose. Continue reading

My Kitchen Is Alive!

My countertop fermenation farm:

My countertop fermenation farm: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, the pizza dough and apple cider.

There’s something to be said for a quick and easy meal, that can make a hurried, hungry person happy in a matter of minutes.  A fried egg, for example, or a peanut butter sandwich, or a handful of cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine. 

But there’s something very different and just as beautiful to be said for foods that take a long time to create. Fermentation is a hobby of mine, I have to say—I get more excited about creating vast quantities of sauerkraut than consuming it, as delicious as it may be.

When, the other night, I looked at my counter and saw a total of 5 different cultured foods fermenting away (fyi: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, sourdough pizza dough, and apple cider), I decided I had to write about it. Continue reading

Pumpkin Surprise At Barefoot Farm

We'll wait and see how well this little guy does!

We’ll wait and see how well this little guy does!

It’s been a tough year at Barefoot Farm for all things in the squash family. But things are starting to look up. Who knew gardening could be this much fun?

Apparently, when I added some compost in the herb garden this summer, I included a pumpkin seed. I discovered this one tiny pumpkin, hiding in the herbs. It’s small and, as I have no way of knowing what the variety is or whether it’s the result of random fertilization, I don’t know what to expect as far as edibility goes. It looks good and I’m assuming the best so now I need to decide what to do with it. Continue reading

Pumpkins Are A Frugal Food

The best pumpkin bread recipe is on page 55. Cookbook available now at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio, or Lehmans.com.

The best pumpkin bread recipe is on page 55. Cookbook available now at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, or Lehmans.com.

Pumpkins say “autumn” louder than just about anything you can think of, with the possible exception of corn shocks (how many of you shock corn any more?). Something about a pumpkin excites the imagination of just about everyone. You’re surely into growing the biggest pumpkin, or you have plans for pumpkin bread, or you love to decorate your yard and home with them.

Almost everyone who doesn’t grow their own has to buy at least one – and often, several. They’re cheap enough to indulge in and many think they’re cheap enough to waste by throwing them out or letting them rot when the fun is over. Please don’t do that… you can buy just one or two and you’re stocked up with the makings of many good foods, with recipes ranging from snacks to soups, from bread to custard and more. Continue reading

Add Pop To Your Pickling With Fermented Dills

Click here to get this national bestseller at Lehmans.com.

Click here to get this national bestseller at Lehmans.com. It’s THE book to have if you’re into fermenting.

There seems to be a rapidly growing movement toward returning to traditional methods of preserving foods, such as canning, dehydrating, root cellaring, and even… fermenting.

Fermentation particularly seems to be an unfamiliar concept in our fast-paced culture today. Often times when Americans think of something being fermented, they equate it to being rotten or spoiled. We forget that sauerkraut, in fact, is a fermented food. And it’s highly nutritious for you, as are many fermented foods! Almost every culture around the world incorporates fermentation in their daily food preservation techniques. Americans are slowly beginning to re-learn this forgotten art. Continue reading