Friday, July 5, 2013

Madness? No this is SUMMER!

Here we are in the summer monsoon season and it’s another slightly rain soaked edition of Lost in the Farmer’s Market! In todays edition I’m going to talk a bit about a possible GMO item that you may not have realized was GMO and, a bit about harvesting and storing some of the more unusual garden produce.

First off I’d like to talk about a GMO item you find at the supermarket that you probably never knew was GMO. In this case I am referring to canola which has the scientific name of Brassica rapa ssp. oleifera. However the original common name of canola was rape and or rape seed. Honestly I kind of like the name change, if only for the fact it prevents incredibly tasteless jokes. Originally canola oil was not used for cooking in fact it was so bitter it’s only use was in oil lamps and in ancient times was most prominently used as the oil of choice for light houses. It also was used as machine lubricant for steam locomotives. Despite this today it is the third largest source of vegetable type oil in the world. What made canola undesirable for consumption was its in credibly bitter flavor which comes from high levels of glucosinolates.  Basically this was part of the plants’ defense mechanism to prevent anything from eating it or its seeds thus partly ensuring it passed on its genetic matter. Attempts by people to breed out the bitterness were attempted for quite some time but not perfected until the advent of true genetic engineering. This means the Canola oil we see in all those foods even at the heath stores has likely been tampered with and may be the cause of digestive problems. In short buyer beware, keep an eye out for canola as it may not be from a ‘clean’ genetic source. That said I have to mention that the word Canola itself is somewhat of an acronym, as it comes from the word CANadian Oilseed Low-Acid.  Further more Canola itself produces quite a bit of nectar and makes for a good winter cover crop and can influence the flavor of honey if honey bees collect from it. There are some reported uses of some sort of oil product made from canola is used as a fertilizer of sorts.

Canola and its hazards aside, some of you who’ve met me in person or have been reading this blog a while have noticed I have a affinity for plant alternatives. That is food-bearing plants that are not the run of the mill varieties one would normally see or buy.  One of my favorites is ground cherries because as a member of the night shade family they are native to North and South America, and are well adapted to our climate and our soil. As far as fruit go, the fruit are protected by a papery husk that means you have to work less to get your crop since most other things that might eat it may not know the fruit is ripe. Now in the latest heavy rains and odd weather I’ve discovered another means to tell if the fruit is ready other then gently tapping the plants to see if the husks fall off. It seems heavy rain provides just enough vibration to rattle the ready fruits free and best of all, the entire little husk covered cherries float! For production purposes someone with a rain want attachment on a hose could just gently water the plant and find the ripest fruits without laboring to much. In terms of storage the normal procedure for ground cherries is to remove the husk, wash, and put in a freezer jar. I don’t know how long the fruit keeps in a refrigerator and so the fruit is always frozen for later use in a winter bread recipe called Winter Ambrosia. Admittedly should I harvest enough ground cherries I might be tempted to try brewing something out of them. I can’t even begin to imagine what ground cherry wine might taste like but I bet it’d be flat out awesome. 

I might add the same rule for harvest applies to most things that come out of the garden, but as it’s blueberry and strawberry season still those two plants get the exact same treatment (picked, washed, frozen) for the purposes of winter storage. The idea is to fill up the freezer early, so that the first harvests of the spring and summer fruits are preserved for winter, while the later harvests are either for fresh eating or for canning. The idea here is to have some form of home grown food item ready to go a couple times a week through the three winter months. Some of you out there might be wondering what all the fuss is, and indeed the value of stockpiling some of your seasonal harvest may seem a bit much.  As it turns out in numerous trials by more then one university, and the USDA vine ripened tomatoes have 1/3 more vitamin C over force ripened ones like you see at the supermarket. Furthermore those same tomatoes if grown with nutrients provided by manure and compost have been found to be higher in antioxidants  and possess two times the amounts of quercetin and kaemferol both of which are forms of lycopene and aid in preventing cancer.  It isn’t a stretch to then say that this effect cant be entirely limited to just one food-bearing plant and thus it makes some sense to say that home grown food itself has to be better then store bought and preserving it for the winter means you eat better all year. All that said here is one of my favorite recipes for a food preserve. It’s called the ‘Bullion Bomb’ basically it’s a flavored and concentrated vegetable item that is typically frozen  in pint jars but can be scaled up for  a quart or half gallon mason jar if you wish.

- ¼ cup / 2 oz (all herbs chopped finely: Fennel, Basil, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon, Italian Parsley, Chives* and, Cilantro (if available).
- ¼ cup / 2 oz Yellow Banana Peppers (other peppers can be substuted.)
- ½ cup / 4 oz of tomato (any type you grow)
- ¼ cup / 2 oz of eggplant sliced fine.
- 1 oz Leeks or Green onions (only if chives are unavailable)
- Salt to taste, or add Adobo for color and additional flavoring.
1. Wash and clean all items before processing.
2. Prepare all items.
3. Bring one cup of water to a boil and add all items.
4. Simmer until vegetables and herbs are tender and the amount of liquid is reduced.
5. Allow mix to cool some before transferring to a freezer jar.

Monsoons and thunder whatnots aside this Saturday I will be at the Fayetteville Farmers / City Market in downtown Fayetteville. The market runs rain or shine as most of the farmers do have large tents, but strong winds and especially violent weather of course may curtail the event. The market runs from 8:00 am through 1:00pm (I will be there 9-1) and is located at 325 Franklin Street.  This week I’ll have some new stuff from the USDA, copies of Southward Skies and will be teamed up with the Sustainable neighbors folks, so stop on by.  Here is a list of what is coming to market on Saturday

4x Sanseveria cylindrica – African Spear
1x Peperomia verticillata – Radial Peperomia

Garden Plants
2x Large Beef Steak Tomato
6x Small Beefsteak Tomato
1x Roma Tomato (Cooking Type)
1x San Marzano Tomato (Cooking type)
5x Burgundy Okra
2x Nankeen Cotton
1x Green Carolina Wonder (Sweet, Bell)
7x Red Carolina Wonder (Sweet, Bell)
6x Yellow Banana Peppers (Sweet)
1x Ghost Pepper (Sweet)
1x Red Peter Pepper (Ornamental and Edible)
2x Sangria Pepper (Ornamental)
1x Litchi Tomato (Tomato relative, sweet)
5x Egyptian Onion (starter bulbs)
(This post may be edited later in the night to add additional items such as herbs.)

Next week

Available Soon

So with all that food preserving and the discovery of a hidden GMO covered for this episode we look forward to hearing from you and seeing you if you stop by the Farmers market. If not feel free to drop a comment here on the blog even if it’s a request for a plant crop to be carried and sold next year. So far we have already adjusted our plans to include different colors of cotton but it’s not to late to add to that. Remember folks summer thunderstorms can produce dangerous flooding, wind and lighting strike conditions so please be careful and always check your pots to make sure the water from the rain is draining out. This wraps up another episode of LITFM, as always folks Keep ‘em growin!

No comments:

Post a Comment