Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hauling in the chile harvest

It's that time of year again....the chiles and peppers have finally ripened and loads of them are now available in their freshest form at our markets, or have been given as a component of the CSA. Not only do our chiles circulate to all of these places, but a grand number of them also make the trek a few miles north to the commercial kitchen off Shiloh Road in Windsor. Here they are cleaned, chopped and prepped for storage in a number of ways including chile jam, hot sauce, dried chiles and chipotles, specialty blends like Mole, chile powders, you name it. Lee is always trying something new and innovative, often reaching back into traditional cultural techniques and recipes to bring the modern day consumer something either they have never tried or something that fills them with nostalgia.

Enjoy your fresh chiles while they are here. It has been a shorter season than normal all around....who knows when the frost might sneak in and rob us of all these summer fare that we are spoiled with right now. Even when it does, you can be sure Tierra will have chiles for you year-round in one form or another.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Summer Cover Crop

A beautiful summer cover crop of buckwheat is peaking right would be the ideal time to till it in right now as it goes from flower to seed and has maximized the amount of organic material it will provide to the soil. Not a nitrogen fixer like cool season legume cover crops, buckwheat is a hearty and vigorous summer cover choice and Tierra has an excellent stand of it right now. Despite the fact that it will now start turning from flower to seed and then be likely to turn into a weed in this portion of the field in future seasons, Wayne cannot bring himself to till it under quite yet....

I caught him in action here...he is pointing out the beneficial insects that are all over this habitat. Tiny wasps, honey bees, you name it. Certainly the bad bugs are present too, but when an area of activity is discovered like this, it sure is tough to rip it out from under all those who are depending on it and enjoying it. Therefore, the buckwheat stays for now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Popcorn and Dent Corn

It looks a bit like yellow sweet corn, but the kernels are larger, flatter, have a slight dent on their outer surface (hence the name dent corn) and have been left to mature to a dry, storage state. This yellow corn is intended for yellow corn meal. From this point on it will be left to dry in the field a bit longer, then threshed off the cob when someone has time to do it. Then the loose, dry corn will store until periodic milling creates corn meal and polenta all winter long. See if you can get your hands on some yellow this season, last year local farm supporting restaurant Rosso Pizzeria consumed nearly the entire crop in order to fill their menu and serve their customers. We couldn't complain, but a few of you did when seeking a traditionally hued corn meal.

Then there is the popcorn. There is a visible difference between this corn and the former. Small and hard kernels that burst when provided the right conditions, versus the large and smooth dent kernels shown above that are obviously much better suited for flour processing.

So many types of corn are out there. No wonder scientists have gone crazy trying to modify the genes into the next best thing. Corn crops also cross pollinate readily on their own. On the farm they are kept in separate blocks to ensure this does not occur as we like to keep consistent strains of the heirloom types chosen to grow and save the seed for future corn generations on the farm. This season there are blue, green, yellow and pink cornmeal crops on their way to harvest any moment. The red popcorn is out there and perhaps a few stalks of blue (this was less successful). Is is a fun time to take a stroll in the field to observe the corn in it's mature state. You are always welcome to do just that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bean Cleaning

Tis the season to clean the beans. It is unfortunate that so much happens at once during harvest time. There is really time for nothing but harvest if you want to chase all the things that need tending in the farming world. Wayne is focused in on the beans right now. Mature, harvested, field dried/cured and collected in bins ready for cleaning now the beans are ready for their final stage of processing. The threshing equipment knocks them out of their dried pods, then preparing the beans for cleaning and size sorting.

This here is the Hutterite Bean. It doesn't look so bad, but there is plenty of unwanted material as it is poured into the hopper for cleaning here. Just imagine all the years and hours of cleaning beans by hand before Tierra invested in this timing saving equipment. Some crops just need a little mechanical assistance.

This is the sorting tray that not only removes unwanted debris, but also size sorts as it goes.

And the highly desired Tiger's Eye Bean. If anything ever got attention for it's looks, this would be proof. I imagine this could be my only chance to see this bean before it sells out this fall and winter. Right now there is plenty though and it looks like eye candy as usual.

Time to indulge in the bean harvest! The only challenge is making room for it in your menus along with all the other summer bounty while it lasts. October is the prime moment to enjoy it all before rain hits and short days creep in upon us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Harvey's Bean

Haricot Tarbais

(Harvey’s bean)

Origin: Well known in the southwestern region of France and the city of Tarbes near the Spanish border, this bean might be referred to as the “holy grail of beans” by some folks.

This bean was given to us as seed by a long time customer named Harvey in 2009, hence the name Harvey’s Bean. The 2010 crop is our first with many more to come.

Cooking: Traditionally used in cassoulet recipes (and suggested by Harvey himself), let your imagination run wild.