Thursday, 29 September 2011

harvest festival - what to do when you have a glut of produce

So where were we?

Ah yes, MicrobeMan  has returned following an extended break to enjoy the summer sabbatical!

After a summer of mixed rain and sunshine, any veg grower is now facing the eternal dillema - what to do with all that lovely produce from a high yield and productive organic veg plot? 

After you've made your jams and pickles, maybe made some chutney or given away carrier bags full of spare veggies to family and friends, you may be thinking about how ideal it would be to extend your home produce further throughout the year.

Got time to listen?
Maybe you'd like some ideas? 

Fermenting your food is one such option, but rather than go into the whys, the wherefores and the what the...? here, let me point you instead to a fascinating Podcast on the subject - entitled fermenting culture - via the nice chaps at the Extraenvironmentalist Podcast.

for those who like to listen to fresh ideas

 Here's what they say about this episode:

Sustainability is not a spectator sport. Unless every single one of us radically alters our participation in the rapidly failing industrial food system, within the next few years we’ll find our food prices spiking and chaotic weather decimating the food distribution networks we have relied on. In the age of cheap and abundant refrigeration, we’re losing our species’ long relationship with live culture foods produced by fermentation. The health and nutrition of humanity is suffering from this relatively sudden break from ingesting bacteria responsible for regulating the energy metabolism of our bipedal bodies.

In Extraenvironmentalist #23 we speak with food activist and author Sandor Katz about how to ferment the counterculture. We discuss the philosophical underpinnings of live culture foods, the historical role these foods have played through human history and share some recipes to get your hands dirty and your cabbage sauering. Sandor describes how a local economy built of food preserved with bacteria from your own backyard can help you become part of your environment on a deeper level. Can our trend toward ever greater rates of obesity and poorer health be partly due to our obsession with hygiene and the sterilization of everything that we eat? All of this along with the first appearance of Cooking with the Extraenvironmentalist as our airwaves pick up a slightly different version of public radio.

In the mean time, i offer the following...

Simple storage ideas:
Potatoes can be left in the ground until they need bagging up and storing, onions can be pulled, dried and woven into wreaths for hanging, or (as we show you here below) you could use some old clean tights for storing...

onions to be stored
Simple stuff, but a handy hint if (like me) previous years have seen you dart out to the shed in poor weather to grab an onion or two, only to find the wreath falls apart with a hastily made tug at an onion, in a feeble bid to get back into the warmth of the kitchen as quickly as possible.

So, basically, get your cleaned waste tights (don't use tights that are still usable, or face the wrath of the tights owner if you do) and chop them into single "legs". 

 Take your onion and insert into the leg:

onions at the ready

 Next, insert it into the leg and push it as far down as possible:
push the onion down the leg

Tie off the tight at the top of the inserted onion with a simple knot:

tie it off with a knot
Repeat the process, filling up the leg:

almost a full leg done

Before you know it, you have loads of legs of onions, ready to hang on hooks simply and efficiently.

legs aplenty

Now, when you have to go out to the shed in the middle of winter to grab an onion or two, you can bring in a whole leg to keep in the kitchen, or simply snip off the bottom-most onion, remembering to leave the knot above the chosen onion intact, so the next one up doesn't fall out - it's that easy!

What about Dehydration?

Permaculture Magazine has a really nice DIY introduction to making your own dehydration kit:

No one likes to waste gluts of summer fruits, so why not dry some using a simple, solar-powered dehydrator?

Get drying with a solar dehydrator like this...
The principle of the solar dehydrator is very simple: a box at the bottom heats up the air which then rises and flows through the second box.

We bought some wood (having nothing suitable lying around) and some black paint, and a friend donated a sheet of perspex. Two boxes of similar size were then made.

On their website you can see the full article here

Meanwhile, now the post-summer harvest rush is almost over, we resume our normal service of reporting on news-worthy stories relating to microbes, with a few specialized posts ready to be written.

If you really want to drill into the detail and learn more about BUGS, biostimulants of various kinds, then stay tuned, as we'll be posting book reviews soon, so you can delve into the subject yourself and learn more about what you need to know to grow without chemicals and synthetics - looking into the sustainable future.