Monthly Archives: September 2013

Braised red cabbage

Traditional red cabbage variety Red Drumhead

Traditional red cabbage variety Red Drumhead

Autumn has much to offer in both the garden and the kitchen, and now as the weather closes in, warming and comforting dishes are back in season, and braised red cabbage is just perfect this time of year. Generally, I am not a huge fan of the brassica family, but there are some dishes that I do enjoy: crisp green cabbage in the form of a continental style coleslaw, rather than the mayonnaise drenched version, although that can be good too; sautéed savoy cabbage or kale, perhaps with a little bacon, on its own or added to mashed potatoes; cabbage leaves stuffed with a savoury minced meat; and, of course, that great autumnal dish of braised red cabbage. Continue reading

Fruity chilli sauce

Homemade chilli sauce

Autumn is a great time to consider preserving some of the fresh garden produce in the form of pickles, chutneys, and sauces. Today I experimented a little to create a new recipe for a hot but fruity chilli sauce. I exploited the seasonal harvest of ripe tomatoes, Bramley apples that are just ripening, and all sorts of fresh chillies, along with shallots and garlic from storage. Continue reading

Bags of onions

Yellow onions Sturon and Stuttgarter

I have already posted a couple of times about the great onion, shallot and garlic harvest this year. We have been eating our way through the autumn sown crop from the polytunnel for some months, whilst the main crop has been left a while in the glasshouses to dry. This weekend we went through them, packing away all of the sound bulbs for winter use. This task could have been done a couple of weeks after harvesting, but there is an advantage to our tardiness: those few bulbs that would otherwise have begun to rot in storage already show signs of softening or the development of moulds, so we can remove them easily before they have the chance to spread rot to the rest of the crop in store. Continue reading

The Ribston Pippin

A Ribston Pippin ripening on the tree

When selecting a range of apples to grow as cordons in the kitchen garden, I was keen to seek out interesting old varieties, and at the top of my list was the Ribston Pippin, also once known, amongst various other names, as the Glory of York. This fine dessert apple is interesting for various reasons. Not much heard of today, although it can still be found from time to time in garden centres and is readily sourced from specialist nurseries such as Keepers Nursery and R. V. Roger, it is thought likely to be a parent of Cox’s Orange Pippin, one of the few quintessentially English apples to still appear in supermarkets. In its day, it was one of the most popular apples in England, being widely propagated. Just a glance at the superlatives attached to this apple in the old books is enough to convince me that this variety is an essential part of our little collection. George Lindley, writing in 1831 says “The Ribston Pippin may be truly said to be one of the best, and certainly is one of the most popular dessert apples of the present day”. Robert Hogg, writing in the latter half of that century considers the description and, indeed, praise of this variety to be almost unnecessary due to its widespread cultivation “An apple so well known as to require neither description nor encomium”. Continue reading

A big surprise in the hive

Dad’s homemade long deep hive

Today we checked on the bees in the long deep hive. Whilst they had built up a huge colony, we were nonetheless a little concerned about how much stores they had put away, as last year they ate through them very quickly before winter had properly set in and needed additional feed to survive. We usually inspect colonies once per week, but as this is a somewhat disruptive process, we only do so where necessary. Aside from checking the general health of the colony, the main reason for such inspections during the summer is so that measures can be taken if necessary to discourage swarming. For some rather inexplicable reason, this colony showed no inclination to swarm, even though there was a very large number of bees and most frames were filled with brood. So, we left them somewhat to their own devices, making only cursory checks and keeping an eye on the honey production in the supers. When we last looked at the supers, though, we were a little suspicious that they may have been moving honey down into the brood area. Continue reading

Pickling chillies

Chilli Hungarian Hot Wax

Although not perhaps the most useful of crops, chillies are one of my favourite things to grow, and I do use them a lot in the kitchen. Since installing the two large glasshouses and polytunnel, the original 10’ x 6’ glasshouse that we started with has been freed up for growing chillies throughout the summer and autumn. In total, we have 44 plants in the ‘chilli house’, growing in 10 litre pots. Twenty of these are Hungarian Hot Wax, which I grow specifically for pickling. To my taste, they make the perfect pickled chilli. The flavour is much better than any shop bought product I have tried, and the heat level is just about right. At somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 on the scoville scale, these are pleasantly hot but not excessively so. Continue reading

Brooding, moulting, and worming

Four broody hens crammed into the nest box

We currently have eight large fowl. When they are laying properly, they produce far more eggs than we can use. At the moment, though, we are only getting one or two eggs per day. For many weeks we had up to four broody hens stubbornly encamped in the nest box. I have read of various ways to discourage broodiness, but have not done more than turn them out from time to time. Of course, whilst brooding, and for some weeks after, no eggs will be laid. Even those still laying had some difficulties getting into the crowded nest box, and there would often be an egg or two just outside in the coop.

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Getting the bees ready for winter

The season is long here in a sheltered pocket near the south coast, much longer than in other parts of the country. Our bees are still putting honey away, the heather is still in flower, although it emerged rather early this year, and the ivy and other late season plants are yet to open. It will be quite a few weeks before our bees are ready for winter, but this week Dad and I began some preparations. Continue reading

Processing the tomato glut for the winter

The tomato glut has begun

With four dozen tomato plants, a glut is inevitable, as the larger fruits start to ripen en masse. Unlike some crops, where a glut is rather indicative of poor planning, with tomatoes, that is exactly what we want. Today, CT harvested a trug full of ripe specimens for putting away for winter use. I would, at some point, like to try my hand at bottling, but for now will be doing the same as in the past couple of years – cooking down the tomatoes, packing into 500ml pots, and freezing. Continue reading