The natural pectin in apples prompted the authors of Stocking Up III to call apple jelly “the simplest of jellies” because it is made with only apples and sweetener. This year we had a ton of crabapples gifted to us from a neighbor. I canned 14 quarts whole as honey-cinnamon crabapples, made some into applesauce and used some for both juice and sauce. It was nice to get two end products out of the same batch of apples. I cooked the apples up one night and made the jelly the next day so the juice had time to drain. [Read more…]
This time of year, many gardens and kitchen counters are filled with extra zucchini. I’m still short of rain, so my zucchini plants are only puttering along, but luckily my friends have been more than willing to share their bounty of overgrown zucchinis. Last week I processed a small mountain of large zucchini, and my Facebook friends were asking what the heck I was going to do with them. So here’s my not-so-secret method for using up large amounts of zucchini quickly and easily. [Read more…]
After sharing some photos of my broccoli harvest on Facebook, I received the following request. “An article with tips to get big broccoli would be most appreciated! I have big beautiful plants and itty bitty broccoli.” After growing broccoli for many years, I’ve probably made every broccoli growing mistake in the book, so I may now qualify for Broccoli Growing Expert Status. 😉 We’ll start off with some broccoli growing basics, share some tips to get nice, big broccoli heads, and finally wrap up with troubleshooting tips for misbehaving broccoli.
Back in 2013, I started learning about quackgrass for medicinal and culinary use, and saw mention that it could be used to make quackgrass beer (but never found a recipe). So, being the curious type, I wondered if you could make quackgrass wine. I am happy to report that, yes, quackgrass wine can be made, and it doesn’t taste half bad. Here’s how the recipe unfolded… [Read more…]
Bees, bees, bees! Whether it’s honey bees, bumblebees, mason bees or other native bees, we need our bees. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has taken a terrible toll on honeybees. The USDA Agricultural Research Service states that as of May 2015:
Total annual losses were 42.1 percent for April 2014 through April 2015. The new figure is up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014.
You don’t have to be a math whiz to know that those percentages spell trouble. So far as I know, there’s no consensus on whether the problem is due to one or more causes – mites, pesticides, Rudolf Steiner’s prediction of a weakened bee genome due to artificial queening, limited varieties of pollen for commercial hives – they just can’t say for sure.
So what can you do to help the bees? You can create a bee friendly yard and garden; support responsible apiaries by buying honey, beeswax and other bee products from trusted sources; and join an Adopt a Hive program. Let’s start with a bee friendly landscape. [Read more…]