Quacking from Rappahannock (our blog)

A Favorite Way to Preserve Zucchini

One of my favorite cookbooks is “My Calabria” by Rosetta Constantino with Janet Fletcher. A favorite cookbook is one I want to read, which draws me into the author’s world, tell stories that are relevant to the food it presents, and provides context for recipes. 

2019 Honey Harvest

Laughing Duck Gardens in Washington, Virginia.

[by Keith Rowand]

First batches to make stores in June 2019

Rappahannock Arboreal Honey Facts and a Printable Honey_Fact_Sheet

Jump to Batches Scroll to bottom for Batches

2019 is shaping up to be a very intense year for honey. Winter ended mild with no late frost; temperatures and rainfall for the spring have been above normal resulting – the flowers made nectar and the bees made honey! It’s the first week of June and I have 500 pounds of honey in the barn with more in the field.

The bad news is that with so much blooming so well and for extended periods (with the humble white clover in abundance), there is alot of overlap between different flowers; I can’t differentiate what honey came from which flower, so no varietals this year. As always I’ll keep batches small – 9 frames from a single colony is the standard. One colony, Tiger Valley #5, provided 24 frames in one go. There will be 3 different batches from this colony all with the same harvest date but reflecting the 3 different honey supers from which the frames were harvested.

An exception to my single colony rule will be “dark comb honey.” The bees got off to a REALLY fast start with autumn olive, dandelion, and anything else blooming in late March/early April. They started so fast that they didn’t wait for me to put on new honey supers (clean, light wax not used before). The bees began storing honey in “brood comb” normally used to raise baby bees. Honey from brood, or “dark” comb will pick up the debris and bits of life from the business of raising bees. Along with this is unconsumed honey from the bee’s 2018 food stores . In a beeyard with 3 colonies, I move the best dark comb honey into one colony for ripening and capping. After I’ve processed the light honey from fresh comb, I’ll do dark comb extraction using an extra fine strainer. I have extracted one dark comb batch (batch #19-6), but cleanup of bee-life debris made me decide to save further dark comb extraction for last.

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

Continue reading 2019 Honey Harvest
Strawberry Mousse Forever

Strawberry Mousse Forever

The strawberry mousse is one of of those desserts that is so simple, so utterly reliant on the goodness of strawberries that it is either spectacular… or a total let down when made with sub-par strawberries. In which latter case, no doctoring can make it 

Roasted Strawberry Ice-cream

Roasted Strawberry Ice-cream

I picked 42 lbs of strawberries at Green Truck Farms earlier this week. Granted 10 lbs went to Chef John MacPhearson and his hyper seasonal and really excellent restaurant Three Blacksmiths, and 4 lbs went to friends. That still leaves me 28 lbs. 10 lbs 

Le Temps Des Conserves (My preservation calendar)

Preservation in action
yes, I can! (and dry, and freeze, an jar, and bottle) Photo Credit Kay Beatty

I am fairly serious about preserving food. In fact a few years ago, there was an article about me in the local newspaper.  Kay Beatty wrote it and took the pictures. There is a rhythm to it, throughout the year. One does not built a pantry of home preserve food in 2 days or 2 weeks. It takes over half the year to do it, little by little. Some things are done in big batches: for example, hit a pick-your-own berry patch and freeze/can 20 lbs of berries. Others are done throughout the growing season (canning tomatoes, one or two canner-loads at a time). And others still are done in very small quantities, as things are available: typically herb ferments, or condiments… but those are the spice of life in the kitchen!

So here is my preservation calendar, based on the fruit &  veggies we grow in quantities for preserving or can get in abundance locally.

May

  • Strawberries: jam, spread, syrup & shrub, freeze chunks/slices, freeze pre-measured puree
  • Harvest & hang bunches of herbs to dry: mints, lemon verbena, lemon balm, thyme. oregano, nepitella
  • Blanch & freeze spinach
  • puree & freeze dill; make dill oil.

June

  • Blueberries: jam, spread, syrup, can, freeze, occasionally dehydrate
  • Sour & sweet cherries: cordial, jam, juice, fruit leather, fruit butter, freeze (pitted or unpitted), dehydrate
  • green coriander berries: freeze or ferment
  • Red currants, white currants, black currants: jam & jellies (sometimes mixed with other fruit), juice, freeze
  • garlic scapes: pesto/paste, ferment
  • soft leave herbs: paste (freeze or ferment)
  • dry tea herbs such as camomile, calendula, linden, mints etc
  • rhubarb: can spread/sauce, jam, chutney, freeze

July

  • Apricots: jam, juice, can halves or puree
  • Beets: pickle, dehydrate &  powder
  • Blackberries: juice, syrup, shrub, wine, jam, spread/sauce, freeze
  • Cabbage: sauerkraut & kimchi
  • Cherries, sweet, & blueberries: jams, can spread/sauce, juice, butter, freeze (cherries may be pitted or unpitted)
  • Cucumber: bread & butter  pickle, dill pickles, lacto-ferment, relishes
  • Garlic: cure, pickle, confit, ferment, paste (ferment or freeze)
  • Raspberries: see blackberries
  • Peaches & Nectarines: dry, fruit leather, jam, can (halves, slices, puree), freeze (slices or premeasured puree), pickle
  • Plums: can (roasted, halves, puree), jams, spreads, cutting preserve, pickle, chutney
  • Shiitake: saute & freeze, dehydrate
  • Zucchini: dry, sott’olio, relishes

August

  • Blackberries: see above
  • Chayote greens: saute & freeze
  • Corn, sweet: pickle, freeze
  • Cucumber & Zucchini – see above
  • Eggplants: roast/grill & freeze; sott’olio
  • Elderberries: freeze, jams, syrup
  • Figs (should we be so lucky every few years only): jam, can, freeze, dry
  • Green beans: blanch & freeze, pickle (by themselves or in relishes)
  • Peaches, nectarines & plums: see above. Also paste or “cheese” (aka cutting preserve)  with some plum varieties
  • Peppers, sweet: roast & freeze; chop & freeze; relish; paste (freeze or ferment)
  • Plums, including Damsons: see above
  • Raspberries: see above
  • Swiss chard: blanch & freeze
  • Tomatoes: dry, can (juice, puree, sauces, condiments)
  • Tomatilloes: freeze; can (by themselves or as salsa verde)

September

  • Apples: can (sauce)
  • Autumn berries: juice, fruit leather, jelly
  • Green beans: see above
  • Pawpaw: puree & freeze, fruit leather
  • Pears, European & Asian: can (whole, slices or sauce), chutney
  • Peppers, sweet: see above
  • Peppers, hot: pickles, hot sauce, lacto-fermented, freeze
  • Quince, European: can, roast & freeze, jam, paste (aka membrillo or quince “cheese”)
  • Quince, Japanese: jelly
  • Raspberries: see above
  • Rhubarb: can spread/sauce, jam, chutney, freeze
  • Tomatoes: see above
  • Tomatilloes: see above

October

  • Apples & Pears: see above
  • Chayote: dark warm storage, pickles
  • Chestnuts: freeze, dry/flour
  • Ginger: pickle, candy, preserve in honey, jam, paste (ferment or freeze)
  • Peppers, sweet & hot: see above
  • Asian persimmons: freeze puree, pickle
  • Winter Squash: warm storage, pickle
  • Sweet Potatoes: warm storage
  • Green tomatoes: jam, chutney & relishes, sott’olio

It snows in March

It snows in March

We are all tired of the grayness and wetness that has been our unusual lot in the Virginia northern Piedmont over the last year. Our winter has not been particularly cold, the temperatures dipped below 10F ( -12C) only a few times, and briefly at 

Chilled Sorrel Soup

Chilled Sorrel Soup

French (or garden) sorrel is a super hardy perennial potherb with a bright pleasant tartness. It grows in my unheated hoop house even in the harshest  winters providing refreshingly tart leaves for our winter salads. It is one of the first vegetables I harvest outside: 

2018  Honey Harvest

2018 Honey Harvest

Laughing Duck Gardens in Washington, Virginia.

[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 Continue reading 2018 Honey Harvest

Honeybee Colony Record Keeping

The one tool I carry whenever I go to the bee yard is a Sharpie permanent marker. As a “sideliner” beekeeper, I’m responsible for about 25 colonies. There is no way I can remember all the details and needs of each colony, so recordkeeping and