Barefoot in the Kitchen: Farmgirl Fresh Produce, KC, Honeybees, Wildcrafting
Barefoot in the Kitchen: Farmgirl Fresh Produce, KC, Honeybees, Wildcrafting

Barefoot in the Kitchen: Farmgirl Fresh Produce, KC, Honeybees, Wildcrafting

The blackberry patch is producing like crazy right now! Find me or Mom there bright and early, before the sun comes up.

Not seeing a lot of new material from me lately? 

Well, just because I’m not sharing cool new hand-crafted products on my media channels, it doesn’t mean I’m not creating.

I have been super busy setting up my space at the West Bottoms in Kansas City, AND I’ve been reworking my studio space, but there’s also one more important thing to work into my busy days:

This time of year, I create food for my family. I spend a lot of time nurturing, feeding, staking, weeding the garden and foraging out in the wild for edible and medicinal materials. I’m keeping bees now as well, which falls into the ‘food for my family’ category, as well as honey-related products.

The queen in my new wild swarm didn’t make it. You can see at least 10 supercedure cups on this frame…they’re making me a new queen.

To share or not to share??? I figure that ‘hey, half my name is FARMGIRL,’ and maybe you’d like to see how I’m raising and preserving our food and how I make it easier for myself. Because it can get overwhelming, having a constant influx of fresh perishable food. It helps to have a routine where you plan to spend 30 minutes to an hour extra in your kitchen several days a week this time of year. I like to get up early (before the sun) to do my harvesting, so that I finish the outdoor work before it gets too hot outside. Then I take to the kitchen during the heat of the day, turning the morning harvest into preserved nutrition. I look forward to having that time inside during the heat of the day in the Missouri summers! 

I’m planning to go to the studio during the height of the day today, as soon as I finish typing this up (which I’m doing while potatoes bake in the oven), but this morning, I have been working on preserving blackberries and potatoes.

Read on for the details…—>

BLACKBERRIES

The blackberry patch started producing late last week, and now we are getting a little over a gallon a day. 

Beautiful thumbnail-size berries

We like to freeze the berries first. It kills bacteria and breaks down the cell walls, making for easier juicing. We use the juice for making jelly and for ice cold fruit smoothies. {Ask me about my delish blackberry chocolate “Mom Drink”}

Tuesday morning, I picked the berries.

A gallon of rinsed berries ready to go into the freezer.

I brought them home, rinsed and cleaned them (I have a super easy way to do this), then froze them in a gallon bag. Wednesday morning, I had super impeccable timing, and I pulled in at the farm as mom was walking to the house from picking. I intercepted the berries, brought them home, rinsed them and bagged them, then I pulled the Tuesday berries and left them in a bowl on the counter to thaw and stuck the Wednesday berries in the freezer.

A gallon of frozen berries, which will thaw and then be juiced out.

This morning, I juiced out the Tuesday berries by hand with an old-fashioned tomato juicer, which takes about ten minutes. Then I poured the juice into a spouted measuring bowl and poured it into ice trays before sticking them in the freezer.

Pour the juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Remove from the trays and place in gallon bag in the freezer.

I pulled the Wednesday berries from the freezer to thaw. I’ll put them in the fridge later today, then juice them and freeze them in trays in the morning. See my pattern?

Frozen blackberry juice cubes come out to be bagged and put back in the freezer, frozen berries come out to thaw, fresh juice and fresh berries go in the freezer, and the process is complete for the day.

THE FARMGIRL EASY WAY TO CLEAN BERRIES

[Rinsing/cleaning blackberries: Place a strainer over your sink drain to keep debris from going down the tubes. Put a large bowl in the sink. I use a giant enamel bowl, like grandma used to use. Dump the berries in the bowl and start it filling with cold water. When the bowl fills with water, the trash from the berries (tiny brown dried up sepals from the blossoms) and bugs and stuff will start floating quickly to the edge and run on over. Small berries willl float to the edge too; gently pushing them back away from the edge will separate them from any trash and allow the trash to wash out. Using your hands, stir the berries from the bottom of the rinse bowl to the top. More trash will float up and head for the edge, then wash on out. It’s important to be gentle stirring the berries as you clean them, because they can easily wash over the edge if you’re not careful and you’ll have to fish them out of all the trash and rinse them again. When the trash stops flowing, they’re clean, and you can pour them into a large colander to drain. Put them in a gallon baggie. I like to end up with a 3-inch-thick bag; seal it up most of the way, lay it on the counter and press it down flat and push all the air out. Put it in the freezer!]

POTATOES

We have been getting these wonderful produce boxes from the Jasper Baptist Church. What a blessing. Every week there is a 5-lb bag of potatoes. We haven’t kept up with eating them, and including some of the potatoes we had bought before we got any produce boxes, we have about 25 lbs of potatoes in the pantry. I also have a potato patch in my garden that will be producing soon, so I want to experiment with preserving potatoes before I am completely inundated! That way I know what choices I have and what works best. If I freeze these for hash browns, I can preserve the new potatoes from the gardenb in quart jars by pressure canning them, and I’ll be ALL SET on potatoes for this winter.

Soak the potatoes for a few mins, then scrub them. My scrubbie is usually yellow…it is brown with the dirt from the potatoes.

Today, I’m trying hash browns and hash brown patties. I soaked the potatoes, then scrubbed them, then cut out bad spots and poked holes in them with a fork, then did a final rinse before putting them in the oven on sheets of foil for one hour at 350.

Lay the potatoes on foil in the oven and bake for an hour at 350. Creek loaded up both ovens with taters for me.

They’re baking as I type. As soon as they’re done, I’ll kill the oven, open the doors, and allow them to cool while I go to the studio for a few hours. When I get home, I’ll put them in the fridge overnight, and in the morning, I’ll run them through the tater hasher (a hand-crank rig I borrowed from my cousin), then freeze them up. I think I’ll use pizza boxes with parchment paper between layers of hash browns.

FEED THE LIVESTOCK

Last thing: take the potato trimmings and the blackberry pulp and feed it to your chickens or add it to your compost heap! My kids get a kick out of feeding this stuff to our flock…taking the garbage to the chickens is a chore that doesn’t get ignored.

Bird food: blackberry pulp and potato eyes and bad spots.

JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU OUT!

Why is this helpful to you? I figure I can share how easy it is to preserve your food without getting mired down, by sharing simple processes with you. If you break the main tasks down into steps that are easy to work into your day, you will be successful at food preservation! 

You’re welcome to ask me anything…if I don’t have an answer, I’ll find one for you! 

Up next: APPLES, TURNIPS!

Pulling my first frames of honey a couple weeks ago. Small jars for sale at Martin’s Memories, West Bottoms, KC.
Mullein harvest. I make an oil from the flowers that is helpful with musculoskeletal discomfort. We spend a lot of time in the summer out picking the blossoms. Mullein is not a rare plant; it grows everywhere if you look for it.

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