Collard Kraut and Other Fermenting

This is the time of year I typically ferment a lot of vegetables from the garden. The cool fall weather provides good growing conditions for things like cabbage, kohlrabi and radishes, all of which are tasty when fermented. This year I have added collard greens to the list of foods I am fermenting. I first heard about making collard kraut on an episode of A Chef’s Life that aired on our local PBS station. I didn’t have enough greens to ferment last year, so this year I made sure to plant more so we had plenty for fresh eating and for fermenting.

Flash Collard greens

For my first collard ferment, I choose to make a recipe from Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. Whole Leaf Collard Greens is a quick ferment that uses whole collard leaves that are rolled up like a rug and fermented in a salt water brine solution for a week or less. My leaves didn’t quite fit in a quart jar after rolling , so I folded them in half before stuffing in the jar and covering with brine. I let them ferment at room temperature (around 74°F) for one week. I used leaves from the hybrid Flash for this batch since it had a lot of big ones.

collard leaves fermenting

We got our first taste of them yesterday. The leaves are not as tender as cooked collards, but they have a lovely flavor. My idea was to use them as wraps for a savory filling. Chef’s Life star Vivian Howard has a recipe for Collard Dolmades in her book Deep Run Roots, which should serve as a good starting point for recipe ideas. The salty, tart leaves should pair well with a number of fillings. They could also be cooked, but that would kill the beneficial probiotic bacteria.

leaf of fermented collards

The kimchi I started earlier in the month is now ready to put in the refrigerator and start eating. I got my first taste yesterday when I had some for a side dish at lunch. It was tasty at 18 days old, and I think it gets even better with age. Since I made two quarts it should be around for a bit.

jars of kimchi fermenting

The kimchi has a deep red color from the homemade gochugaru powder I used. The cabbage gets brined overnight in a 5% salt brine. I also like to add a bit of grated daikon radish and some green onion to the cabbage after brining. Then I make a seasoning paste from garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce and soy sauce along with the gochugaru powder.  I add the paste to the cabbage mix and into the jar(s) it goes for a couple of weeks.

kimchi seasoning paste

mixing up the kimchi

Another thing I like to do with the kimchi is add it to grilled cheese for a ‘kimcheese’ sandwich. I make it with homemade rye bread, and toast it in a skillet on low heat so as to preserve all the probiotic bacteria in the kimchi. It’s also tasty as a topper for other sandwiches, and if I are hot dogs or brats more often I would surely use it on those!

Sweet Baby daikon radish

Next in line for fermenting will be some of the daikon radishes I have sizing up in the garden right now. The purple Sweet Baby daikon radishes make a particularly colorful and tasty kimchi. I hope you have enjoyed a look at some of what’s happening here in late October.

 

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Harvest Monday October 28, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The fall veggies are the main focus of my harvests now. I cut a few collard greens to make a test batch of the leaves fermented. If I like the taste, I plan to make a bigger batch of collard kraut. This is a popular dish in North Carolina, and I first heard about it on an episode of A Chef’s Life. This is the hybrid Flash, which had some big leaves that were easy to roll up and fit in a quart jar.

Flash collards for fermenting

I also made a cutting of the Topper turnip greens I cooked up for a side dish one night. This variety is grown primarily for the leaves, though it will eventually make edible roots. There was a little bit of insect damage on the leaves but they were mostly free of problems.

Topper turnip greens

And I got a good sized cutting of Artwork broccoli last week. This is a stem type broccoli, which has tender and edible stems. The side shoots are the main attraction, although these made fairly large main heads. I set out a dozen plants of the broccolini types and six purple sprouting broccoli plants for the fall garden. The Burgundy PSB is starting to head up now too.

Artwork broccoli

I began cleaning up the pepper plants I have growing in containers, harvesting the peppers as I go. I plan to overwinter about a half dozen plants indoors, and then set them out in the ground next year. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and the second year plants get off to a quick start and usually make earlier peppers than the seed grown transplants I set out. This was a mix of hot peppers, including almost two pounds of the Kimchi variety which I will dry and grind up into gochugaru powder for seasoning kimchi. Others in the below photo include the baccatum peppers Malawi Piquante and Aji Rico. I still have a few containers of peppers to work on, so there should be more hot peppers on them as well.

hot peppers from container plants

In the wonky vegetables department, I cut a huge tromboncino squash that had escaped my attention when it was smaller. It was too mature to use like I usually do, so I let it grow on to use as a winter squash. This plant was trained up a trellis, and it appears the fruit got caught between the ground and the trellis. That kept it from forming the usual long and mostly straight fruit. It didn’t stop it from growing altogether though, so it curled and twisted and turned into Monster Squash! I don’t think the tromboncinos are the best tasting winter squash I grow, but this one weighed 13 pounds and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. I will have to bake it up in batches though because I doubt it will all go in the oven at once.

mature tromboncino squash

I’ll close by introducing you to the newest resident here at Happy Acres. The local shelter was full to overflowing with cats, so we decided to add another set of paws to our household. Molly is almost 5 months old, and joins 2 year old Ally and the 13yo Puddin. We are hoping Molly and Ally can keep each other occupied, since most days Puddin just wants to be left alone – not that I can blame her.

Molly

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

 

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Another Greenhouse Update

The new greenhouse is up and ready to use, and I’ve been putting the finishing touches on it the last couple of weeks. The old house was 8×12 feet, and the new one is 8×16 feet which gives me more room for the planting beds and the shelves I use to hold seedlings. I’ve got most of the beds planted now with things that will overwinter in the greenhouse like kale, parsley and purple sprouting broccoli. And I’ve got lettuce and other salad greens that will be ready to plant in a few days.

inside look of the new greenhouse

I grew purple sprouting broccoli in the beds last winter, and they gave us our first ever taste of homegrown PSB. We liked it so well I planted even more of it this year, and the plants have taken off already after setting out. The varieties I’m growing are Rudolph, Santee, and Burgundy. I’ve been growing kale in the winter greenhouse for years, and it should give us greens to eat in winter plus rapini in early spring when the plants start flowering.

purple sprouting broccoli plant

I’m using rubber pavers for the inside of the greenhouse. I found they are much easier on the feet and legs than the concrete ones I used the first time around. They are also easy to install, if a tad more expensive. I’ve got the bench and table sitting on concrete pavers to give them more height, which I’ve found makes it easier on my back  when working on potting and transplanting chores.

rubber pavers on floor of greenhouse

One new addition to the greenhouse is a wall mounted ventilation fan. I had been using a much smaller one that sat on the shelf and was always falling down. This one is much larger, moves more air, and I mounted it up high on the back wall where it should be out of harm’s way. It will help move the air as the greenhouse heats up, which it does even in winter when it’s cold outside.

wall-mounted ventilation fan

Now I’ve been working on the outside, doing landscaping around the perimeter. I put down landscape fabric first, then covered with a cyprus bark mulch. And I put a few of the rubber pavers at the front to give me a well-defined entrance.

greenhouse with landscaping

My next task will be to get the outside potting bench in place. I plan to sit it on concrete pavers, with landscape fabric underneath to help keep down the inevitable weeds. I have a few rubber pavers left over which I will put down in front of the bench where I stand. I moved a couple of the concrete pavers into position which you can see in the below photo. The ground is really uneven though, so my first task will be to level it up a bit. It doesn’t have to be perfectly level, just a bit more so than it is at the moment.

side of greenhouse where potting bench will sit

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the greenhouse project, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday October 21, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. With colder weather and more frost predicted, my first order of business last week was to get the sweet potatoes dug. I did this in three sessions. The Saturday session was the longest, when I dug 20 hills and hauled in over 50 pounds of sweet potatoes. Centennial is one I haven’t grown in many year, and it did quite well for me. I’ll do a full review of them all later. It would apprea we will be well supplied with this starchy staple though!

Centennial sweet potato

I got another cutting of kale last week, this time the Wild Garden Mix kale. Some of this wound up in soup and some in a side dish. I love this ‘mother gene pool’ mix of kale. The plants are all different, but all are tasty and productive for me here.

Wild Garden kale mix

Fall is truly the season for greens here, and I made another cutting of collards too. This is White Mountain Cabbage collard, a family heirloom from South Carolina. The leaves were tender and mild tasting. We love our greens, and my wife and I are both really enjoying the collards.

White Mountain Cabbage collards

In other news, I pulled a lot of green and ripe hot peppers to smoke and dehydrate. The first batch was jalapenos, and a later batch was Anaheim types like Biggie Chili. After drying I grind them up into a smoky chile powder with mild heat that I like to use for seasoning.

smoking jalapeno peppers

smoking Anaheim type peppers

And I made the first cutting of the Apollo and Artwork broccolini plants. I set out four plants of each variety, so there are more to come. This batch got roasted, which is our favorite way to prepare them.

Apollo and Artwork broccoli

Despite a couple of frosts in the garden I found a few eggplants that had set on. The plants themselves are still alive so it’s possible there might be one or two more before a freeze does the plants in. Eggplant this time of year is a real treat. I took the biggest of these and grilled slices for an open-faced eggplant sandwich. I also roasted a few of our sweet peppers to go on the sandwich, which I topped with melted cheddar cheese.

Dancer and Nadia eggplant

eggplant sandwich

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

 

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Harvest Monday October 14, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Last week we had our first frost, largely unpredicted until the last minute. That had me scurrying around Friday harvesting all the peppers and squash I could find. The temperature got down to the freezing mark briefly Saturday morning, with frost in the garden for sure. Time will tell how much damage it did to the tender plants. I managed to find a decent amount of the Malawi Piquante peppers. These are the ones used to make the pricey Peppadew peppers you see in stores on the salad bars. I will pickle these in a sweet brine much like the Peppadews.

Malawi Piquante peppers

Malawi Piquante peppers

The Turkeyneck winter squash are finally maturing, and I brought in several of them. The ones in the below photo weighed a bit over 8 pounds each. The neck is solid flesh, and these have become my favorite squash to puree for use in pies, muffins and my morning smoothies. I also found several of the Mashed Potatoes acorn squash. I am anxious to see how the taste compares to the Cream of the Crop squash which was much more prolific for us. And I found another Centercut squash, which has also been a great producer for us this year.

Turkeyneck squash

Mashed Potatoes and Centercut squash

In the greens department, I cut more collard greens for fresh eating. This time it was an heirloom called Georgia Cabbage collards, another one that sometimes tries to form a small head. And I cut two heads of Soloist napa cabbage to make a batch of kimchi. I had enough from these two to make three quarts of kimchi, which should last me for a bit. The outer leaves were a little wonky but still quite edible and I didn’t find any slugs while cleaning it up. Along with the cabbage I used our garlic and gochugaru powder for the kimchi, and store-bought green onions and daikon radish. I made the gochugaru powder mostly from the Kimchi and Amazing 2 peppers.

Georgia Cabbage collards

Soloist cabbage

cutting up the cabbage for kimchi

jars of kimchi fermenting

I also made the first cutting of the fall kale. This is a variety I’m growing for the first time called Purple Russian, and the big leaves were tender and tasty. I got the seed for it from Restoration Seeds.

Purple Russian kale

Purple Russian kale

And I found what will likely be the last eggplant of the year as well as more of the fall planted Happy Rich broccoli. The fall brassicas are looking good if I do say so myself, and we got a little bit of rain last week that I’m sure they appreciated.

eggplant and brpoccolini

I also got what could be the last of the pole beans. It’s a little bit of everything in this batch which weighed a little over a pound. There were lots of shell out beans in this bunch, and I cooked them all up for dinner one night.

pole beans

I’ll close with a greenhouse update. I have most of the inside work done, and I’ve planted kale, parsley and purple sprouting broccoli in the beds. It’s starting to look like a working greenhouse, and just in time for the colder months when we rely on it to give us fresh greens.

inside look of the new greenhouse

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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