FARMcurious

to educate, inspire and equip the urban homesteader

Preserving the Harvest

June 18, 2010

plumsLast night was a late one in the kitchen with Jared brewing an inspirational batch of beer (five different varieties of hops!) and me preserving the first backyard fruit harvest of the season. We almost never sleep in past 9am but after rushing to two parties yesterday, picking about ten pounds of plums and then

canning/brewing, not even the squawking chickens could awaken us this morning! The plum tree has been heavy with delicious plums for a few days and I’ve been picking a pound or so a day for the last three days. Alas yesterday the rest seemed ripe so we picked the tree nearly clean yesterday afternoon. We must have looked hysterical with me holding a container and a huge bird net under Jared as he climbed the ladder and shook the tree branches. We ended up with about 10 pounds of beautiful (and tasty!) yellowish-pink plums with a gorgeous blush on the ripest ones. I cooked up a simple syrup and poured it over half of them to raw pack in 8oz Ball jars. Twenty minutes under a boil in the canner later and we had some beautiful preserved plums to enjoy this winter with pancakes or ice cream.

Sadly, though we have more than ten fruit trees, this plum harvest is likely the only one that will arrive in enough bulk to be preserved for the winter. Thanks to a vicious trimming to open up the canopy of the peach tree and the relative youth of our other trees, we’ll be lucky to get two peaches, a single apple, a handful of blueberries and a pound or two of figs. That is, of course, ignoring the citrus which grows like crazy here. Our orange tree is still laden with oranges we can’t reach from last year and our dwarf mandarin and meyer lemon should ripen their first real harvest later in the summer. All-in-all I find it difficult to complain!

I still have another five pounds of plums to turn into jam tonight (possibly while Jared puts the finishing touches on his Father’s Day lasagna). Life is good.

In other news, I spent the afternoon after my late wakeup at Urban Eats, the CUESA county fair event put on in conjunction with Giants Stadium. I found it incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by other people who are teaching everything from permaculture design to solar oven building and beekeeping. If you missed the event be sure to check out some of the organizations that had booths in the tent. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Institute of Urban Homesteadingwww.iuhoakland.com – they offer classes on everything from Handtools for Homesteaders to Cheesemaking and Raising Rabbits!!!
  • Ecology Center of San Franciscowww.eco-sf.org – Tori and Davin were demonstrating using solar ovens and building adobe bricks! They also have a lending library that looked amazing with some relatively hard-to-find homesteading titles.
  • Hayes Valley Farm & Alemany Farm — urban community gardens at their best. I can’t wait to visit Hayes Valley Farm in the near future. Permaculture is showcased there on the farm and we could all learn a lot from their growing methods.
  • Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculturewww.cuesa.org – if you’re not familiar with CUESA, be sure to look into their programming and events around the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.

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