Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wild Grape Jelly

I love this time of year when the landscape is dotted with all sorts of colors: yellows, reds, greens, and purples. I love the colors more if they guide me to free food. On our hike through a field the other day, we spotted many vines of ripe wild grapes.

Research needs to be done before harvesting wild edibles. It is very important to be 110% confident that you know what you are harvesting. We have learned about wild grapes over the past couple years, but this was the first time to gather the grapes. There are a few look-alike plants, so caution is needed.

There isn't much that one can do with wild grapes: juice, wine, or jelly. Don't let their tart flavor off the vine scare you away. Most recipes dilute the grape juice with water and sugar.

The grapes were on state land, and at first I didn't know if it was okay to harvest. I know for most people it is a "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy. But I was still nervous running into something while I was cutting off the grape clusters. Everytime I heard a car drive past, I ducked in the bushes. I'm still not sure what I would've done if someone actually saw me. My nerves were eased though when Eric called a local DNR office and found out that harvesting nuts and berries is legal at this spot.

Many pounds of grapes were needed for just a few pints of jelly. But it was worth it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

And another addition to the homestead!

I just realized that I forgot to share the news of the latest addition to our homestead. Shadow, our second dog. We actually got him in April, but I completly forgot the news. Koda, our first dog, is a very kind and social dog, so we thought he needed a friend.

Our decision literally was last minute when we found ourselves driving to the Humane Society. While we were driving, I kept saying that just because we were looking at dogs, didn't mean we had to get one. Well, long story short...when we saw Shadow, he smushed himself against the viewing window and gave us those loving eyes.

Shadow and Koda have been the best of friends ever since.  Now that makes two dogs, seven chickens, and two rabbits on our homestead!

Camping with Koda and Shadow

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canning Season

Well, I'm a little overwhelmed right now with all the things happening this season. There seems to be a surplus of produce everywhere I look. Recently the CSA farm was selling grade B organic heirloom tomatoes. So we bought 30 pounds worth and turned them into 21 colorful jars of diced tomatoes. Next on the list: salsa, tomato sauce, and pear for updates!

Heirloom tomatoes usually have cracked skins. But thankfully the outside imperfections are only skin deep and are removed when prepping the tomatoes for canning. Their insides are gorgeous. (Is there a lesson here?)

The chickens enjoy canning season too.