Preserving Produce and Preparing for Winter
Fall is upon us and before we know it, winter will be too. So this month we talked about the best ways to preserve and store our abundance of produce. We also shared our favorite low vision gardening tips.
October 3, 2019
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Hadley Growers: Preserving Produce and Preparing for Winter
Presented by Ed Haines
October 3, 2019
Ed H: Okay, so we have Lisa today and Lisa can I go ahead and share a little bit Lisa about what you're interested in?
Lisa: Absolutely, that would be wonderful, thank you.
Ed H: Okay so, Lisa is working on her master gardener project and her project has to do with accommodations and adaptations that visually impaired people use to garden. So, she had reached out to me just a couple days ago and our original topic is fall gardening but I thought this would be a great time for us to share some of the tips and tricks that visually impaired gardeners use in their own gardens with her so that she can include these in her project. So, anybody who's got some ideas go right ahead I've got some for myself, but I'll let you guys speak first.
Sue: Lisa, I wanted to let you know that my master gardener project is also along that line but I'm doing growing in containers with the specialty of blind and low vision people as an op focus for my project.
Speaker 2: I would also love to grow them inside, instead of outside. Is that possible to have a good garden and grow these things in a container and have your spinach and your kale and your whatever?
Ed H: It depends if you have the right kind of lighting conditions. So, I wonder- I've got some ideas for accommodations, Lisa.
Lisa: Okay, thanks.
Ed H: First off, people always ask about weeding. If you're visually impaired, how do you tell what is what? And the first thing I always tell people is gardening is primarily a tactile activity anyway. So, it's something that you do by feel and so, if you have enough familiarity with your plants you can weed them but containers, which has already been brought up, are a terrific to eliminate the weeding problem and then as is mulch. If things are properly mulched, you don't get a lot of weeds in the first place so then you don't have to worry. And contrasting mulch is a really great tool because you put down black plastic or red plastic, depending on your vision impairment, and that really gives you a sharp contrast to your rows of plants.
Lisa: Oh, that's really interesting.
Speaker 2: Yeah, that's the kind of stuff I put down, the black, and that's what the weeds and the grass and everything grows through.
Ed H: Also, Lisa, a lot of people like to use stakes to prop up plants of different kinds, bamboo stakes, etcetera. And years ago, one of my visually impaired friends told me that they always put old tennis balls or ping pong balls with a hole in it, they put them on the top of each stake. And what that does is, it makes the stakes easier to identify but more importantly, if you can't see them it eliminates the danger of leaning down to pick something and poking that stake in your face or whatever.
So, it's a real easy fix you can get those used tennis balls, they're florescent green, they're really easier to see if you have low vision. Just poke a hole in them and make sure that they're on top of every stake so you don't poke yourself in the face.
Lisa: That's a great idea.
Speaker 2: Or it doesn't hurt quite as bad.
Ed H: Yeah, it doesn't.
Sue: And then to kind of go along with that, if near all the plants you want that you know are plants, and they aren't weeds, if you got a stake right by them, so you might be using a plastic fork, it doesn't have to be big just something that's going to stick in the soil, that's an indication that if it's an inch away from that, you might be having a weed that you want to pull.
Lisa: Man, that is an excellent idea.
Alice: Is there a way to braille label stuff that you have outdoors?
Ed H: You can make braille labels out of labeling tape that's plastic.
Sue: You probably can, I have not done that.
Ed H: Yup, you certainly can.
Alice: Okay well, I don't know braille so I'm trying to figure out another way to label. I still have a little bit of vision but, if I get out in the sunlight or if there's a whole lot of shade, then I'm essentially blind. It's hard, it's really hard to see. So, I'm trying to figure out how I can label my stuff.
Speaker 2: Well there is a digital labeler that I've recently become aware of. I like it opposed to the PenFriend because there's a little ridge around the thing so I can find it better and some of those can get wet. And also, what I have done is put some of them on a card and put them inside these plastic Ziploc bags like people who do jewelry use, and then you can just tape that on whatever. See, and then go out with your [crosstalk].
Alice: I hadn't even thought of that. Yeah, 'cause I do have some of those [inaudible].
Speaker 2: And the thing is, I wanted to label my stuff in the freezer, and I was afraid with the ice in the freezer, it would get wet. And so, I put it inside this little plastic bag, and it works very well.
Alice: They have two different kinds of [inaudible] and one has an oval hole in the center those are the kind that can get wet, they can go in the freezer or the refrigerator. You can just wrap a rubber band through it then wrap it around your [inaudible]. I have several of those in my freezer now.
Speaker 2: What I did though, I used the others, just put them on a card and you cut the card the size of the plastic Ziploc bag and then you even use those that can't get wet.
Alice: That's a good idea.
Ed H: Great idea. You can also use different color mulch. If you're using plastic mulch for instance, I know someone that uses red mulch for one row for their tomatoes, and then they use black mulch for their next row of their other vegetables. If you can see the different colors, you know by the color of mulch what garden bed you're in.
Sue: And don't forget that this mulch can be bought in the dollar stores, they're called tablecloths. For a dollar you buy an eight by four-foot tablecloth that you can cut into strips and have it be the color that you need.
Ed H: That's a fantastic idea, Sue.
Speaker 2: And then you just cut a little cross in it and put your plant inside that little hole, it's supposed to keep the leaves from coming up around it but...
Sue: You may have to set some rocks or something on top of the plastic to keep the wind from taking it away and blowing your plants down.
Ed H: Yeah, but I love the idea of tablecloths because then Sue, you could potentially, for a buck each you could get 20 different colors if you have that big of a garden.
Sue: And then the other thing is, to keep that plastic down, you can also use logs. And don't forget the logs will eventually decay and become your mulch, become your soil eventually.
Alice: But doesn't that prevent the water...
Sue: I'm sorry?
Alice: ...from getting to the plant?
Sue: Well, if you've got the plastic over the space where your plant is, yes, it will keep the water from getting to your plant. So, you may have to devise a way of putting down blocks of plastic so that, in between your plants, you do need to remember plants need the roots watered not the leaves.
Speaker 2: Well, that's the reason for cutting the hole in the plastic just big enough to plant the plant, then when you water the water goes through those holes and waters [crosstalk].
Alice: That's an interesting idea.
Sue: You can do that.
Ed H: So Lisa, also I recommend any kind of garden tool at all, the handles need to be wrapped with florescent tape or black tape, some kind of high contrast tape so when you drop them in the garden you can spot them right away. [crosstalk] I've spent a lot of time searching for tools.
Sue: I have been known to have my tools lost because they land in the mulch and then the mulch kind of envelops them and so, I don't see them. But yeah they've got to be a contrasting color so that they can be more easily found.
Ed H: I'd been interested in what folks have to say about seed planting because that seems to be a problem that comes up all the time. How do you tell how you're spacing your seeds in your garden bed? If you're sowing seeds directly into your garden bed and doing rows. How do people cope with that?
Speaker 2: Well, that's the reason for the cutting in the little plastic.
Ed H: Okay, so you can feel where that ... oh, I see what you're saying, so you already precut it so you've got the space already marked out?
Speaker 2: And you just the whole and you plant the seed in the hole.
Alice: Wow, that's genius.
Sue: Either that or I have heard the thing, I haven't tried it myself, but it makes so much sense that it's got to work. Take a napkin and lay them out when you've got time and then fold that napkin back up and that seed is going to come out through the napkin because you're going to have your wet stuff and it's sitting right there on top of the soil, and once it's anchored into the ground... it's going to grow.
Ed H: So, I'm confused Sue, can you describe that again? I didn't quite get that, what you're talking about.
Sue: Okay, you open up your napkin, your paper napkin and you put your seeds on it and then you get it damp so that when you fold the napkin back over itself so that the seeds are encased then you've got a way to plant your seeds out in your garden and all you have to do is lay out this bunch of napkins.
Ed H: Oh, I got you. So, it's like making seed tape almost?
Ed H: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I see what you're saying. And so you cover the napkins with soil?
Sue: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now, if you're working with itty bitty little seeds ...
Ed H: That was my next question, how people cope with that.
Sue: Make a slurry of cornstarch and water and work the seeds into that slurry, stick that slurry into your plastic baggies and with that corner snipped off and then you kind of just, dribble that line so that the seeds aren't sticking to your fingers and you're just gently squeezing that baggie all along the area that you want planted. And the cornstarch is a fertilizer of itself, it'll biodegrade so, it's a win-win situation.
Ed H: [crosstalk] Great idea because then you've got this nice white stripe in your soil and it's easy to see. So you're sort of pushing that stuff out like you would be for frosting, right? Kind of.
Sue: Right, yeah.
Nancy: Hi, this is Nancy.
Sue: Hi, Nancy.
Nancy: I buy pelleted seeds for my lettuce and carrots, so they already have a little bit of clay on them. So, they're almost like a small BB, you can easily feel them and my husband made me a piece of board that has measured indentations on it so, I just lay that board down and I put a seed in each little indentation and then I know the spacing is right and carrots, we never have to bother to weed them, lettuces they're fine.
Ed H: Wow, great idea. So, your husband basically cut little notches on the edge of a board and you feel for those?
Ed H: Like a slate and stylus almost?
Nancy: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the other thing I wanted to say was that, when we were talking about the mulch, they actually sell these things, Tractor Supply carries them, they call them garden staples and they're u-hooked little pieces of metal that you stick through the plastic into the ground and that'll hold your stuff in place.
Ed H: Okay. Yep. I make mine out of the cheap clothes hangers they give you back from the dry cleaners.
Nancy: I live so rural; we don't have a dry cleaner.
Alice: I don't use a dry cleaner.
Alice: If it has to be dry cleaned, I don't buy it.
Speaker 2: I don't buy stuff that has to be dry cleaned.
Ed H: Well, I shouldn't have mentioned dry cleaning, I can tell right now.
Speaker 2: One of the reasons why I want to try to grow indoors and have my little garden inside, is because it's so hot here, I just don't want to go outside, and the clay soil is impossible to work. But, if I had a little container in the house, [crosstalk] the kind of soil and everything. I have trouble getting my plants to come to maturity.
Ed H: Growing inside is kind of tough if you don't have a lot of exposure. Particularly, if you're interested in vegetables and not house plants. House plants generally require indirect sunlight and that's great, that's why they're house plants. But vegetables really require, most of them, a lot of sun. It's awfully hard to duplicate those conditions inside. Some people do if they have a really good bay window or some exposure window or you can get a grill light.
Alice: That and you have to deal with the pollinations.
Speaker 2: Is there a grow light?
Alice: Yes, there is.
Speaker 2: I talked to one person and they talked about blue lights and red lights and all kinds of lights. Is there one grow light that is good for all stages of the plant?
Ed H: Yeah, I'm pretty sure generally, if you buy something called a grow light, it's going to be fine for the plant, but we just had someone mention about pollination and that's true. So, if you're growing something like, leafy vegetables, you might be able to pull it off but if you want tomatoes or things that have to be pollinated, hopefully you don't have any bugs in your house that are going to do that for you. So, you'd actually have to get a little paintbrush or something and cross pollinate which is almost not worth it, unless you really have an interest in hybridizing plants.
Speaker 2: Well, also if you have good vision I'd think because you got to find the little blossom.
Ed H: Absolutely, yeah.
Speaker 2: But spinach and kale and things like that would they be all right?
Ed H: You could try, although spinach and kale are kind of cool weather crops so, you might have to keep your house at around 60 degrees.
Sue: One of the things though, you could go ahead on the internet and pull up some YouTube videos about growing microgreens and many of those who grow them indoors use the LED lights, they're like Christmas lights, the way they attach them to the shelving above so that they shine down on the plants that are growing.
Alice: Can you clarify what microgreens are?
Sue: Okay, the difference between- well, sprouts is when you grow your seeds without soil. Like, you stick a tablespoon or two of seed into a jar, or there are growing towers that you can use for sprouting. Anyway all you do is you get those seeds wet a couple of times a day, drain them off and they will grow. And when they're a couple inches tall, then you get them in the sunshine or in the light and they will maybe green up on top. When they're growing without light, they're a yellowish color.
The shoots are when you're growing grains, like your wheat grass, your corn, I can't even think right now, anything else that's a shoot. But those are the ones that aren't really going to have the leaves on top. The microgreens are those that will grow in soil and it doesn't even have to be soil now. When you pull up these internet videos, the guys are growing them in coconut coir, C-O-I-R, and when they deliver to a restaurant, if they're growing for profit, they deliver that to a restaurant and the restaurant can take those greens and put them in the refrigerator of their restaurant. If it was soil, they could not. Typically, your microgreens you're going to snip them for the first serving and they will regrow.
Alice: Are they like a lettuce?
Sue: You can use lettuce seeds, you can use cabbage seeds, you can use even peas. Watch some of these videos and listen to what they are planting, I'm totally amazed. And, what I like even better is when they tell you, "Well I tried it this way and it didn't work so, this is the way I recommend." To me, that's much more helpful.
Ed H: It's always great to learn from another gardener's failures. It saves you trouble.
Alice: Is the video descriptive enough that you can benefit from it without being able to see what they're doing?
Sue: Most of them are. I like the guy who does... learn to grow organics.
Ed H: You know Sue, if you send me that link at some point, we can put it up on the website.
Sue: Okay. He's got tons of videos that he has filmed and once you get over his little jokes and all that, and listen to the presentation of gardening, I like the information that's given out.
Ed H: Back to the subject of adaptations for vision impairment, does anybody else have anything to add for Lisa? Any tips or techniques?
Speaker 2: The only thing I can think of, now y'all are talking about planting the seed, and it sounded like real good ideas but what I have is little bitty starter pots, they're about two inches, when I buy a plant in the nursery, you know? I just keep that little pot and I put the soil and everything and plant the seeds in that and then when they come up, then I plant them in my garden.
Ed H: Okay so, you're using transplants? Great, yeah that's great. How do you folks navigate when you all go to a nursery to pick out transplants or plants, sometimes it's awfully hard to see those little tags they have on their labels, I guess you probably need sighted help for that, generally. Have you folks found that nursery personnel and employees have been pretty friendly and accommodating?
Speaker 2: The one here, I just go in and tell them what I want, and they take me to it and are very helpful.
Ed H: Great, that's great.
Sue: But what you have to do is not go to a place where it's a big store, you know your Walmart, your Lowe's, your Home Depot, because you've got people working there that may know nothing about plants, this is just where they work. Where if you go to a nursery, those folks generally know something about plants.
Speaker 2: Occasionally at a store, I have found when we came up to the store, they had a bunch of plants out on display in the front and they had someone out there trying to, well in this particular case, it was a stevia plant. They had a bunch of stevia plants and they had a person out front that was very knowledgeable and her purpose was to convince people to buy these plants.
Now, in a case like that it does work but I agree with, I don't remember who was saying it, but yeah places like Walmart and Lowe's are not terribly helpful. Sometimes an Ace Hardware will be if they have a garden center, sometimes they will be helpful, they'll be more likely somebody there who does know about plants, but a nursery is your best bet, I think.
Ed H: Okay so good advice, go to a real nursery, with real plant experts and you'll get help, that's great. Anybody else have any tips or techniques for visually impaired gardeners?
Sue: And then the other thing about the labels, you really do want somebody who knows your plants because often people will take the label out of this plant to read what it says and stick it back in the wrong plant.
Ed H: Good point.
Sue: You can't always go by what the sticker says.
Alice: Another idea, you know those little toys that they have for kids that are shaped like a food, like a magnet or a little toy that looks like a [crosstalk] broccoli? Or looks like a tomato? Or it looks like a carrot? You can use those and place them somewhere or attach them to the pot or [crosstalk]
Speaker 2: That's a great idea.
Alice: Attach that to the plant so you know what it is by the feel.
Ed H: Okay, great idea. I don't know that I've seen them lately but there used to be a catalog, was it LSNS or something like that that sold sort of, tactile plastic food that you could wrap around your food for the fridge that would tell you what it is. So maybe, I don't know if they still sell that or not but...
Lisa: I want to go back to labeling things. I can't recommend, I got a bunch of those plastic little stakes that people write the plant names on and it could be the Florida sun but I used permanent markers, using big letters on those to find my plants and within two weeks, they had all worn away. So, don't waste your money on that, it just didn't work.
Sue: What they are saying is use a pencil and for those who have low vision, it looks the same as the stick you're writing on. The pencil will actually stay more legible longer than a permanent marker.
Lisa: [crosstalk] Okay, that's surprising.
Ed H: And you know, I always recommend to folks, and this is something that works year after year, it's always a good idea to make a chart or a map of your garden. Because, not only does that give you a reference point if you kind of lose track of where things are but, next year you'll know what you've planted in what bed. Because, sometimes you need to rotate your crops from one bed to another to eliminate seeds or just to make sure your soil isn't depleted.
And if I don't do a map, by the time winter’s over and the next year comes, I have no idea I can barely remember where I put anything. So, a map sometimes helps, a chart of some kind. So, Lisa did you get any ideas for your project?
Lisa: I think talking to all of you for the past 40 minutes, I've done my entire project about ten times over but yeah, it's been very, very helpful.
Ed H: Yay, that's great.
Lisa: Yeah, thank you everyone and thank you Ed for allowing me to take over so much of this call.
Ed H: No, no. This is an important topic, this is a lot of fun. I've learned a lot of stuff too, so. Anybody else has any ideas, feel free to chime in but I did want to talk briefly about, now some of you live in Florida, so you don't have to worry about this but we're starting to prepare for winter. So, I wondered if anybody had any fun projects, they're doing with their fall produce?
Sue: The projects that I'm doing with my produce well, it's not something I grew, but I'm into fermentation so, I am fermenting a lot of stuff and just yesterday, I fermented beats with lentil sprouts, and onions and I fermented pumpkin with lentil sprouts and garlic. And then I fermented pumpkin with cinnamon sticks.
Alice: How do you do this fermentation?
Sue: I use saltwater, depending on what your vegetable is and what you have available. I was using whey as a starter culture for making it a quicker ferment and so, it was a quarter cup water, a quarter cup whey and two teaspoons of salt and then I would have to add probably just a little bit more water to the jar because it didn't quite get up to the top. But it all depends on how tightly you've packed and how much you have to pack to be able to do that. You can pull up so much about fermentation on the internet and they'll get you recipes from some of those and get some really interesting ideas. I particularly like butternut squash or pumpkin chutney, that's really good.
Ed H: So when you say fermented it's kind of like kimchi then, right?
Sue: Kimchi is the Korean version of sauerkraut. Kimchi typically is going to have your hot peppers, your habaneros or your jalapenos depending on how hot you like it. And sometimes they will actually use seaweed instead of or in addition to your saltwater.
Ed H: So what's the difference between fermenting and just making pickles? What's the difference there?
Sue: Okay, fermenting is to preserve your food as naturally as possible. This is what they were doing hundreds and thousands of years ago. When you usually say a pickle, what you're looking at is something that has been processed with vinegar and salt and maybe some spices, maybe even some herbs and has been canned.
It's the canning that destroys the vitamins, even though it'll preserve a food, it'll the destroy the vitamin content of the food. So, you're not really getting what food could provide. Along with your fermentation, not only are you getting the vitamins that were in that food to begin with but in the process of changing from the sugar on that fruit or vegetable to an acid so that it can release the carbon dioxide, you are actually increasing things like the vitamin C content and adding more probiotics.
Ed H: So, how do you make sure that what you ferment stays? You know, like when people can, you have to be really careful so you don't introduce any bacteria or your food spoils, how do you make sure that you don't end up with salmonella or something like that when you're fermenting?
Sue: Your E-coli, your salmonella those things are typically going to more happen to a meat or a dairy product so they're a little bit more risky. But, if you're working strictly with vegetable, the process of changing from the sugar of the plant to the acid is going to destroy that naturally found E-coli for instance, and so you don't even have it, you don't have to worry about it.
Ed H: I see. When I think of fermenting, I think of making beer, for instance. The sugars aren't changing to alcohol, right? You said they're changing to an acid?
Sue: For sweet fermented pickles, that I have not tried, but most often you're going to just find fermented vegetables rather than your sweet ones.
Ed H: Okay.
Nancy: So, here's an example. For instance, if you want to make a brine for carrots, it's a tablespoon of salt to two cups of water and then you stir it and pour it over what you have in your jar.
Sue: And you want to make sure that you're using anything but table salt, do not use table salt because [crosstalk] ...
Nancy: Yeah, non-iodine.
Sue: ... it's got the chemical iodine. [crosstalk] I use Himalayan salt myself.
Alice: Himalayan salt?
Sue: Himalayan, yeah, it's the pink salt.
Ed H: The pink stuff? Yeah. Yeah.
Sue: And I also would suggest get as pure a water as you can, the chlorinated tap water is not recommended.
Ed H: So get distilled water or something like that?
Sue: Distilled or reverse osmosis, yeah.
Nancy: And they do have little lids you can buy that have little slots in them to help keep stuff weighted and down into your jar.
Sue: And those are fantastic.
Ed H: All right, that's a great discussion of preserving your produce. I've always been afraid of canning, I'm not familiar with it and I've always been a little nervous about it, I tend to freeze everything I've got I'll blanch and freeze stuff. Right now however, I'm really, really busy making pesto because I had a bumper basil crop, so.
Ed H: Yeah, I think I have ... golly I think maybe almost 20 containers of pesto in the freezer at this point. Especially in the heavy winters I get, it's really nice to have that taste of basil, every once a week or so.
Nancy: Ed, how do you freeze yours? Because my son was just asking me and I'm not a pesto eater.
Ed H: Well, pesto is a mixture of basil, either pine nuts or walnuts, olive oil, and then Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese and the trick to freezing it is don't add the cheese.
Ed H: Freeze it without the cheese and then pull it out the freezer, thaw it, and then mix the grated cheese right there before you want to eat it. Otherwise, the cheese just doesn't freeze very well and when you thaw it out it just comes out a real weird texture and it's not any good.
Alice: Now dairy does not, well I shouldn't say not all dairy, milk freezes okay, but diary does not freeze well. Chocolate doesn't freeze well either.
Ed H: Yeah, so just kind of make the pesto with no cheese, don't add the cheese and just add it later.
Nancy: Okay, thank you.
Sue: Okay, now you could also do it just the oil and your herbs, it doesn't even have to be basil.
Ed H: No, you're right. It could be arugula or all sorts of things, oregano.
Sue: Yeah, and then if you leave the nuts out you can just add them later. You don't have to freeze them with the herb, oil, or the basil, oil mix.
Ed H: That sounds good too. I think it's basically making sure that that basil, or whatever it is, is somehow preserved before the frost hits and we're about to have a frost I believe, tonight or tomorrow night, so.
Sue: Okay but also [crosstalk] ...
Nancy: Yeah, us too.
Sue: ... mix your basil and oil and stick it in your old fashioned refrigerator cubes and freezer cubes and then you can have one cube at a time and you can put it in the soup, you can put it into pesto, you can put it into ... lots of things.
Ed H: That's a great idea, use an ice cube tray, good idea.
Alice: Sue, this is Alice, I missed. What kind of jar do you use for the fermenting?
Sue: I use any jar that I can fit my fist into. I like to pack down, especially when making sauerkraut, you really want to get all the air out of there so that when it expands it's got someplace to go. So, we buy our peanut butter in large, wide-mouthed jars, and I will put it into the wide-mouthed jar, when I've got it full maybe like, two inches from the top, put a cabbage leaf over the top of the sauerkraut, then I'll put my weight down on top of that, making sure that the liquid that's in the jar comes up and around that weight and then I'll put the lid on, not tight but not real lose. And then every day you can go and unscrew that lid just a little bit. You don't even have to take it off the jar, just unscrew it a little bit to let that air out and I find that when I make sauerkraut it only takes about a week.
Now, where you live, quite a bit north of me, Alice, maybe you might have to wait a little bit longer. Well, it all depends on what you're used to for the taste of sauerkraut. Some people like it really well-aged and some people like it a little bit crunchier.
Ed H: Now I'm starting to get hungry after this discussion. Does anybody else have any garden produce preservation projects? Boy, that sounded good try saying that five times.
Nancy: I do, it's Nancy. I am going to say, I do things a bit differently. I always use canning jars, wide-mouthed canning jars and I boil my jars before I put anything in them so I know they're as clean as they can possibly be. My big thing right now is we're getting into applesauce season and I also will probably make some pumpkin butter. Those two are a few things for fall.
Speaker 2: My mother use to wash her canning jars in a bleach mixture to kill the germs also.
Sue: Just watch out because some people don't rinse off that bleach and bleach is toxic so [crosstalk].
Nancy: Yeah, I'd be careful.
Sue: I don't have bleach in my house, I'm allergic to it.
Nancy: Yeah, we don't either.
Ed H: So Nancy, I couldn't tell Nancy did you have something else you wanted to add?
Nancy: No, I'm good thank you.
Ed H: I'm glad you mentioned apples because that's what I'm dealing with right now too. The apple trees, they're all dropping.
Sue: Okay, what you can do is make vinegar.
Ed H: Oh, okay.
Sue: What you do is you cut up your apples, maybe into four chunks or maybe eight chunks. Put them in a glass jar, a nice big maybe a gallon jar and a teaspoon of sugar per apple and then once you've got as many apples as that container will hold, you fill with water up to the top of the apples, don't worry about what's going on, you can try to weight them down but I did not have any success with that. But, if every day you go and stir your fruit, you don't have to worry about anything forming on top of it because you're going to stir it right back down in while it's still just bacteria and after a couple of weeks, your fruit will sink.
Once it has sunk, then you can take the fruit out, and I actually save that and I mash it and that goes into my sourdough, whatever kind of bread, sourdough apple bread or sourdough pear bread. The fermented fruit, instead of having bananas that are mashed, you have the fermented fruit but once you've taken out the fruit then you stick it into a jar and you're waiting until a SCOBY forms. The SCOBY is the symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast. People will go and spend seven dollars a bottle to buy Bragg's vinegar that has the SCOBY in it, the mother, another name for SCOBY is the mother, when you're talking vinegar. And I've got now, pear vinegar and apple vinegar. I'm sorry no, pear vinegar and grape vinegar.
Ed H: I would really like to try sometime making my own cider because I have about five apple trees, but you have to buy a certain amount of equipment to do that really. The macerator and then you have to have the press and everything and I just haven't been able to justify the expense with that, but I think that would be fun too.
Sue: It would be fun. You're going to have to go in with your neighbors and [crosstalk] ...
Ed H: That's it, yes go in on it. I quite agree. I'd like to try to make hard cider too, I think that would be fun. Maybe someday when I'm retired and have more leisure time. Anybody else have any fall produce preservation projects?
Nancy: I just wanted to say, Ed, this is Nancy, around here we actually have places that you bring your own apples and they're going to do cider presses in a few places. A local [inaudible] is going to do one.
Ed H: Oh, that would be perfect because I have bushels and bushels and bushels, I end up throwing so many away because you can only make so much applesauce.
Sue: [crosstalk] station service Ed and see if they've got a setup like Nancy is suggesting. That sounds like your [crosstalk] ...
Ed H: That's not a bad idea.
Sue: ... ideal answer.
Ed H: And we have so many wild apple trees up here too. I think the original varieties were planted a hundred years ago and they just get spread by birds so, it's really common just all over the place to see apple trees this time of year, loaded with fruit that haven't been pruned or anything, they're just out there in the fields.
Alice: And they haven't been altered by man so that the seeds don't produce the real plant.
Ed H: Right, these are all the old varieties, I believe, because they're not grafted or anything these are just the old pioneer varieties that got planted a long time ago.
Nancy: Ed, how do you make your applesauce? Do you peel the apple and cut them?
Ed H: Yeah, you know what I have? I finally broke down I bought, they're not expensive, it's that little thing with a crank on it and that spike.
Nancy: You're using a Foley Food Mill.
Ed H: I guess, is that it? And you just turn to crank [crosstalk].
Nancy: We went and bought a squeeze-o machine of which we take our apples, we quarter them, we don't peel them or anything, we throw them in the canner and very slowly on low heat, it takes hours, we let them soften and then we take this and this machine has a funnel-type thing that's a wide opening, you put that in there you use the plunger, push it down and turn the crank and the applesauce comes out. And we went through a whole big canner in no time at all.
Ed H: That sounds pretty easy.
Sue: Is that process like a juicer kind of thing?
Nancy: Similar to that, this machine also has attachments, when we did tomato sauce, we used to do our tomatoes, we have a [crosstalk] the machine automatically does it.
Alice: Have you thought about making apple chips out of your apples?
Nancy: I do dry my apples.
Ed H: Like dehydrating the apple?
Ed H: I haven't thought about that but that's a good idea too.
Alice: [crosstalk] and I'm not an expert at it but it's a good way to preserve things.
Ed H: Great.
Sue: It is and a lot of people are very surprised when I tell them. I'll go get some of my dried watermelon. Your what?
Alice: Watermelon chips?
Sue: Yeah, uh-huh (affirmative).
Ed H: Wow, Well listen folks, we are up at the top of the hour. Three o'clock so we have to bring things to a close. This always goes very fast for me, this hour so, thanks to everyone for participating and thanks to everyone for sharing their ideas with Lisa and now she's got her project well underway so, we'd love to see the project Lisa, when you get it done if you feel like sharing it.
Lisa: Yeah, I'd love to do that and everyone, once again, thank you so much for your help. I truly appreciate all your ideas.
Speaker 2: Oh wonderful, it was fun.
Ed H: All right, thanks so much and talk to you next month.