Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Harvest - September and October 2012

During the month of September and October we were very busy picking, harvesting, foraging, gathering and wildcrafting. We picked apples and pears off our trees and grapes off our vines. We picked plums from the neighbors trees that they wanted us to help ourselves to and I gathered up fallen walnuts from both our many Black Walnut and English Walnut trees. I have also been trying to educate myself about the flora and fauna in and around Portland and Rainier Oregon, where I live. I am learning a lot about canning and dehydrating too.

We made Golden Plum fruit leather in my dehydrator and it turned out a to have a gorgeous stain glass look to it. All I did was wash them, peal the skins off, pit them and mush up the plum fruit in a bowl or if they were really ripe I just mushed them with my fingers and spread the mush out on the fruit leather tray somewhat. It is fine if it has juice in the tray with it because that will get dried also. So yummy and without any additives or extras.

We canned pear sauce and dehydrated pears too. I don't have a proper water bath canner or a good canning rack, but we used what we had and got the job done. The dried pears turned out really chewy, but still really good.

I have a handy dandy Pampered Chef apple peeler that gets the job done quickly if I want apples peeled and cored. My Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator is perfect for making yummy apple chips! The kids helped load them onto the trays and then they were dried. We like to bag them up and freeze them. They stay crispier this way.

We have different varieties of grapes that grow on our grape arbor. The grapes are really good straight off the vine too. We made both white and red grape juice. After we plucked a bucketful of each variety off of our grape vines we washed, sorted and de-stemmed them. I used my Vitamix to blend it a little in batches then we placed it all in a big pot on the stove to boil while stirring. Then we strained it all through our strainer (we don't yet have a food mill) and bottled it.

We gathered and foraged loads of walnuts from our trees that had fallen to the ground too. I don't have pictures of the walnuts yet, but I will get some.

We also love to visit local orchards, farms and "u-pick your own" places to get things we haven't yet grown at our place. Since I am still learning I love to take photographs of plants and identify them to see if they are edible or medicinal or useful in another way. This is a fun hobby of mine that I want to soon get really good at.

What have you picked, harvested, foraged, gathered and/or wildcrafted this year? Have you made anything special out of the things you got? How have you preserved your harvest?


Ellen said...

Great haul! Our pear tree did not produce well at all this year so we didn't have a chance to put any up :(

Laura O in AK said...

One of the downsides for living in Alaska is that we don't have the same abundant produce available locally. I really miss going to the apple orchard back east and making applesauce, apple butter and apple slices.

Thanks for sharing all the great ways you preserved the harvest.

Mama to 4 said...

very nice! I have never heard of those kind of plums before!

Erinn Sluka said...

I have always wanted to grow grapes. I am jealous of your abilities to actually grow you foods to their potential. My son wants a garden and I do not have the green thumb!

Parent Palace said...

I haven't had the chance to harvest much this year, we had bad drought conditions during the Summer, and lots of rain afterwards.

Tammi @ My Organized Chaos said...

wow, thats incredible!! I should do this next year, look at all the goodies!

Lindsey said...

WOW! What a bounty! I want a dehydrator to make homemade fruit leather!

KathleenKL said...

Wow--very cool--not much of a green thumb--you grew your own grapes--impressive--maybe one day :) you give me hope --thanks for sharing