Archive for food discovery

2018 Honey Harvest

Laughing Duck Gardens in Washington, Virginia.

 

Honey extracted during June 2018.

Honey extracted during June 2018.

 

[by Keith Rowand]

Rappahannock Arboreal Honey Facts and a Printable Honey_Fact_Sheet

Jump to Batches Scroll to bottom for Batches

2017 might have been a special year for honey; our harvest was about 900 pounds for 30 colonies. In 2018, I’m hoping for 600 pounds without much of the nuance found in 2017. Clover has saved the day! Harvest currently over 700 pounds with more still ripening! Season Total 1010 Pounds! The reason was rain. Just as locust flowers reached peak bloom, a week of rain. Just as the tulip poplar started to bloom, a week of rain. Brambles and berries fared well, but there was a lot of moisture in the air. Basswood and linden fared a little better, but the bloom ended with 6 inches of rain. In addition to washing out flowers (bees don’t collect nectar during rainy weather), the rain elevated humidity making it difficult for the bees to cure the honey. Nectar is about 30% water while honey is less than 20% water (unripe honey over 20% water will ferment in a bad way). Bees collect nectar, convert it to unripe honey, and then fan it until it ripens. Once ripe, the bees seal the honeycomb with wax. Here it is the first week of July and only about 1/2 of my harvest is fully capped. Total as of July 21 of 790 pounds!

Another problem of these rain interruptions is that I’m not getting complete frames of nectar from a single source – locust is adjacent to berry adjacent to clover, etc. To address this I’m processing smaller batches. Instead of 9 frame batches, I’ve collected a few 6 frame sets (my extractor works best with 9 frames, ok with 6 or even 3). July 22 and after 2 weeks of dry the rains returned. There are STILL uncapped/unripe frames in the field and I need to begin mite treatments. #stillthankful

September 3rd total harvest is around 1,020 pounds! 991 pounds of raw honey, plus another 30 pounds of heat extracted honey (see Batch “X”).

For more about frames and the harvest, please read about the 2017 Honey Harvest.

 

For these notes, color is taken from the Pfund color chart, a standard honey measurement. Grade A honey must have no more than 18.6% water content (above 20% fermentation can occur)

Batches

Batch “A”
Color: White/Extra light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.3%, 37.5 pounds.
Origin: Tiger Valley, colonies 14, 15, & 16 harvested June 19.

Batch “B”
Color: White/Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.0%, 34.4 pounds.
Origin: Jericho Rd, colonies 5, 17 & 18 harvested June 30.

Batch “C”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 39.2 pounds.
Origin: Tiger Valley Rd, colonies 14, 15, & 16 harvested June 24.

Batch “D”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.3%, 20.9 pounds.
Origin: Capping tank, blended from multiple batches harvested in mid June.
Sweet and floral with a good black locust presence.

Batch “E”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.5%, 17.8 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #1 harvested June 28.
Darker than early honey mostly from berries.

Batch “F”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 19.4 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #3 harvested June 28.
Similar to Batch E, Darker than early honey mostly from berries.

Batch “G”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.5%, 30.5 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #9 harvested July 12.
While the timing and color suggest basswood (american linden), it has a sharpness or tang that might come from wild cherries. A single colony mid season harvest where the bees kept most of the early darker honey to themselves.

Batch “H”
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 40 pounds.
Origin: Capping tank #3, July 17.

Batch “I”
Color: Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.4%, 24.8 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #1 harvested June 28.
Very smooth, made up mostly from wild berries with tulip poplar and locust – an early and mid season blend the first of 2 harvests from a single colony.

Batch “J”
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.5%, 24 pounds.
Origin: Capping tank #2, July 3.

Batch “K”
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.5%, 30.1 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #12 harvested July 12.

Batch “L”
Color: Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 21.6 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colonies #10 and #11 harvested June 19.

Batch “M”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.0%, 16 pounds.
Origin: Jericho Road #3, colony #18 harvested June 14.

Batch “N”
Color: Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 34 pounds.
Origin: Capping tank #3 from August 20 extraction.

Batch “O”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.2%, 29 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #11 from 7/26.

Batch “P”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.8%, 27.5 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow colony #1 from 7/26.

Batch “Q”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.2%, 38.5 pounds.
Origin: Capping tank 9/3, all beeyards in Rappahannock and Little Washington.
High clover content. The rains and relatively cool temperatures kept white clover in blossum all summer long.

Batch “R”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 17.0%, 19.5 pounds.
Origin: Jericho Road #4 from 6/14.
This is a very low moisture honey, with good locust tree content (rare this year because of the rains).

Batch “S”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.2%, 31.0 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow Colonies #2 & #3.
This is a later harvest with a very high clover component, along with some basswood. Clean tasting representative of clover honey, but with a little bite.

Batch “T”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.5%, 30.1 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow Colony #11 on July 13.

Batch “U”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 17.8%, 30.0 pounds.
Origin: Jericho Road Colonies #5, #17, & 18 on 8/19.
One of the last harvests, predominately clover with a low moisture content.

Batch “X”
Batch “X” is something new – it is not raw honey, but is honey that is heat extracted from the wax cappings left at the end of the process.  5 pounds  of cappings yield one pound of  wax  and 4 pounds of dark honey.  I don’t consider it a premium honey, but  some people really like it. The wax from this process is very clean and can be used in cooking.

(This post will be updated as more batches make it to market.)

 

2017 Honey Harvest

Laughing Duck Gardens in Washington, Virginia.

 

Honey extracted during June 2017, batches A-D.

Honey extracted during June 2017, batches A-D.

[by Keith Rowand]

Rappahannock Arboreal Honey Facts

Jump to Batches Scroll to bottom for Batches

Inside a hive, bees store honey in frames that contain about 4 pounds of honey each.  When I remove the frames from the hives, I store the frames separated by hive location and date.  Once I remove enough full frames, I start extracting the honey into buckets and jars, all the while keeping the batches as separate as possible.

Flowering plants blossom at different times throughout the year, tempting bees and other pollinators with nectar of different characteristics (color, smell, taste, viscosity).  Those floral nectar differences are reflected in the resulting honey; as flowers change the honey changes. In the past couple of years the honey has been dark in the early spring (autumn olive and tulip poplar in April/May),  then became lighter in color as the bees moved  to wild berries and brambles (May/June),  and lighter yet as they finish with basswood, linden, and clover in June/early July.   2017 has been different – for the first time in several years black locust has bloomed in glorious quantity.

Black locust honey is among the sweetest of honeys and very light in color.  I won’t say that I sell black locust honey, because so many other things blossom at the same time and the bees gather whatever they can. What I can say is that the early 2017 honey is lighter and sweeter for which I credit black locust.  Early autumn olive did not make it into honey frames, while tulip poplar was stretched out over several weeks.  Linden, basswood, berries, and clover will be in later honey batches.

For these notes, color is taken from the Pfund color chart, a standard honey measurement.  Grade A honey must have no more than 18.6% water content (above 20% fermentation can occur)

Batches

Batch “A”
Black locust, tulip poplar, early wildflowers.
Color: Extra light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.6%
Origin: Tiger Valley Rd, Washington, near Goat Hill Farm, harvested June 24.

Batch “B”
High black locust content, with tulip poplar and wildflowers.  Thicker with beeswax scent.
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.8%
Origin: Blend from Tiger Valley Rd (June 24) and Jericho Rd (June 8).

Batch “C”
Predominately black locust; very sweet with butterscotch and vanilla tastes.
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content: 18.2%
Origin: Tiger Valley Rd, June 24 of selected frames.

Batch “D”
Some autumn olive, with black locust and some tulip polar; creamy with caramel.
Color: Extra light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.5%
Origin: Jericho Rd, Huntly, June 8.

Batch “E”
Color: Light Amber
Although I manage over 25 colonies, not all colonies produce equally.  Jericho #2 was one of my top 3 producers contributing over 80 pounds.
Moisture Content: 17.2%
Origin: Jericho Rd, near Flint Hill, June 24

Batch “F”
One of the first batches harvested from the rock star Jericho #2.
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.9%
Origin: Jericho Rd, near Flint Hill, May 27

Batch “G”
This Laughing Duck home colony was a surprise and promises good production in the future!  A captured swarm, such colonies get a late start and a harvest is not expected.  The girls of LD #L4 didn’t get the memo and contributed a full harvest of about 35 pounds.
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content: 18.0%
Origin: Harris Hollow Rd, Colony #LL4 August 1

Batch “H”
This was the last batch of the second extraction run, each batch has 9 frames and these were the leftover frames at the end of the day!  Its like a capping tank batch, but more cohesive as I tried to identify frames of a like color.
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.8%
Origin: Blend from Jericho, Tiger Valley, and Harris Hollow areas, August 7.

Batch “I”
This is another batch of 21.9 pounds from Jericho #2.  The nectar was collected over 4 weeks with contributions from many different plants including tulip poplar, basswood, and clover.
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content: 18.0%
Origin: Colony Jericho #2 Honey Super, July 16, Jericho Road, near Flint Hill

Batch “J”
This is was the last batch of the year, taken from colonies at our home. The light color reflects clover with basswood (American linden), the basswood providing a fruity, leitchi-like aroma.
Color: Extra Light Amber
Origin: Laughing Duck Apiary, Harris Hollow.
Moisture Content: 18.4%

Batch “K”
Capping tank batches represent a mix of all the individual colonies and flowers collected during June and early July. The color is a little darker with pollen from many different sources.
Color: Light Amber
Origin: July capping tank
Moisture Content: 18.2%

Batch “L”
Tiger Valley Colony #1 was a captured swarm that wasn’t expected to produce a harvest. My eye will be on this colony to propagation the strong work they did in a short time. I expect the colony found a stand of basswood (American linden) and harvest a large amount of honey is a short time.
Color: Extra Light Amber
Origin: Tiger Valley Colony #1, July 8.
Moisture Content: 18.4%

Batch “M”
Tiger Valley #4 was an established colony which swarmed at an inopportune moment. The harvest took a long time building, as a result having a darker color with a wide variety of pollen.
Color: Light Amber
Origin: Tiger Valley Colony #4, July 8.
Moisture Content: 17.9%

Batch “N”
The final batch from the rock-star colony #2 at Jericho Road. The timing and very light color suggest a strong clover component with basswood (American linden).
Color: Extra Light Amber
Origin: Jericho Road Colony #2, July 16.
Moisture Content: 17.6%

Batch “O”
Batches are built of up to 9 frames of honey taken from a colony. In the case of this batch from my home beeyard, I had several isolated frames and not enough to build a batch from one or two colonies. Given the frames on hand, I selected those of lighter color to make up this batch. Its companion batch of darker frames will make up Batch P. This batch has a higher clover and basswood component.
Color: Light Amber
Origin: Laughing Duck Apiary, Harris Hollow, selected light frames, July 17
Moisture Content: 18.2%

Batch “P”
This is the companion to Batch O. This batch has a higher tulip poplar and bramble component.
Color: Light Amber
Origin: Laughing Duck Apiary, Harris Hollow, selected dark frames, July 17
Moisture Content: 18.3%

Batch “Q”
This was the last batch of the year, taken on August 26.  Very light and sweet. White clover with thistle and basswood.
Color: Light Amber
Origin: Laughing Duck Apiary, Harris Hollow, various colonies.
Moisture Content: 18.6%

Batch “R”
This is a blend of the August batches as taking from the capping tank.
Color: Amber
Origin: Harris Hollow, Jericho Road, and Tiger Valley beeyards.
Moisture Content: 17.9%

(This post will be updated as more batches make it to market.)

Printable Honey_Fact_Sheet

 

On Roots

I do not know why it took me all those years to finally cook an entire Reunionese meal for friends.

Maybe it was because I did not think anybody would be interested. I am relieved to say that was not at all the case. In fact, I was asked to please make more of them in the future. I don’t know why I am surprised. Reunion food IS good.

Maybe it was because I felt I would have to get all those exotic ingredients , and that felt wrong. As it turns out, a lot of things grow or can grow in Virginia, but yes, I had to get some things grown far away – It was special, I got over the reluctance.

Maybe it was because I was not sure I could cook it right.  Get the right cut of meat. Or be able to use a specific technique successfully. In fact, by carefully selecting the menu, one can make a fairly authentic Reunionese meal in Virginia.

Or maybe it’s just that as one gets older, one goes back to one roots.

reunion-meal-venison-004

Read more

Smoking Bacon

Bacon’s my friend (especially the kind that comes from a pastured pig).

A few weeks ago I read Brett Laidlaw’s post on Trout Caviar about smoking bacon. He wrote  it just about 2 years ago, but I only recently read it.

I knew we had to try it.

We did.

smoked-bacon-025

It just so happened that I had two pork sides in the freezer Read more

Fragile Promises

Cherry blossoms in early April are incredibly lovely, aren’t they? and incredibly fragile. They open their snowy petals for pollinators to do their jobs when the chance of freeze or frost is still real and so one wonders: is this too early? will a frost come and wipe out this year’s crop? or will they survive and turn into Bing? Royal Ann? Somerset? Lapins? Viscount? Will it be sorrow and frustration or will it be joy and good picking?

2009-04-04-cherry-on-top-23

On April 4, Garrick Giebel and Ann Grenade opened their hilltop cherry orchard – aptly named “Cherries-on-Top” – in Flint Hill, VA for Rappahannock’s own little cherry blossom festival as well as for people to meet them, the new orchard owners.

You see, Garrick and Ann did not mean to operate a cherry orchard. The property went to the market in 2007, following the accidental death of its prior owner. The pair bought in 2008 for its incomparable views. It came with 800 cherry trees. Read more

Fast Food, Slow Food

pate-eating-006

My baker was really starting to slack.

He was supposed to bake for a New Year’s eve party. I would make pate, he would make bread, our hostess would “ouh” and “ah”. A 911 call came in. As a member of a local rescue squad, he responded. I guess that’s as good an excuse as one can get… That night, the hostess got Cardamom Custard Tartelettes, Pear & Quince Jam Tartelettes and a bottle of homemade peach liqueur. She still “ouh”-ed et “ah”-ed and promptly whisked the bottle away whispering, “if you don’t mind, I won’t serve that tonight”. I don’t mind.

So, my baker would bake for New Year’s Day and I would serve the Pate that day. Another 911 calls came in on New Year’s day morning, and so I served Hoppin’ John and Garlicky Vinegared Mustard Greens instead.

Eventually, a batch of country baguettes was baked the day after New Year’s day. By then, the Venison and Pork Terrine (made of all local ingredients, except for the Juniper berries) had nicely mellowed. The mache and lettuce, although battered by several days of cold temperatures (below 15 F/ -9C), are still yielding enough for a few big bowls of salad.

So this is lunch for the next few days. Grab & sit. No pan to wash. Fast food at its best.

Verdict: While the baguettes taste wonderful, the Terrine could have been salted more. It’s a good thing I had a jar of Spicy Plum Chutney from the Virginia Chutney Company on hand: the chutney, locally made in Washington, VA, really complemented the terrine very well, and helped to forget that I had under salted it. Hey, I am still developing the recipe. I don’t mind making more (I will) to perfect the recipe – as long as there is baguette to try it with. Nobody minds being guinea pigs for terrines & pates in the house. Mustard greens doesn’t  quite get the same welcome. I don’t understand…

Note for the Locavore Log: mache & lettuce greens for the salad, pork & venison used for the pateas well as some of the pickles immedatiately local; flour for the bread… I wish!