Archive for the ‘Fruit Preservation’ Category

Jun13

Burke-Gilman Stewards Put Footies on Trees

We talk a lot about ways to help prevent and manage pests and diseases on fruit trees. Afterall, the fewer pests & diseases, the healthier the tree, and, as a result, the better the fruit.

In addition to encouraging and educating home owners to take care of their own trees, the Fruit Tree Stewards have done a great job making sure that trees within parks and other urban orchards are protected. One example of that is the Burke-Gilman Fruit Tree Stewards (did you know fruit trees were along the Burke-Gilman trail?) — they’ve been super active caring for the fruit trees along the trail and most recently applied a bunch of bags on the low-hanging fruit on some trees. And using some footies City Fruit is supplying, they’re in the process of finishing off the trees by adding additional footies to the fruit higher up.

Their work is turning these previously neglected trees into productive, healthy trees that produce tasty, beautiful fruit.

Interested in learning more about how to apply footies or bags to your fruit trees to help keep pests away? Check out this video from our resident fruit tree expert, Don Ricks. As you can see it’s super simple.

Nov04

Beets

At City Fruit’s recent Harvest Party, Diana Vinh’s home made pickled beets were such a hit (especially with me!), that I was inspired dig up this great how-to article from the New York Times:

Beets: The New Spinach
By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN

Recently in the Well blog, Tara Parker-Pope wondered if she has been missing out on beets, which one researcher recently identified as nutritional powerhouses, high in folate, manganese and potassium.

If you, like Ms. Parker-Pope, have never made beets, then yes, you really are missing out. It’s easy to love fresh beets, and not just for their nutritional advantages. Beets have an earthy, hard-to-define flavor like no other vegetable’s, one reason they so often appear on high-end restaurant menus. But they’re perfect at home, too, and so this week we’ll be offering some simple ways to prepare them.

Beets are available year-round, but the best time to buy them is June through October, when they are at their most tender. Look for unblemished bulbs with sturdy, unwilted greens. In addition to the usual red variety, you may find beautiful golden beets, and pink-and-white striated Chioggia beets. Unless a red color is important to the dish, either type can be used interchangeably with red beets.

Often purchasers ask that the greens be chopped off. That’s a mistake — the greens bring an additional set of nutrients to the plate, most notably beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium. Take your beets home from the farmer’s market with the greens intact.

Roasting is the easiest way to cook beets, not least because the skins will slip right off. Cooking them this way is easy.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. (Later this week, we’ll show you how to sauté the greens.) Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish (or lidded ovenproof casserole dish). Add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins.

Roasted beets are wonderful on their own or simply dressed with a vinaigrette, and they will keep for five days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. Best not to peel them until you plan to eat them.

Jun08

New Project: Seattle Fruit Tree Stewardship

A New Grant

City Fruit has just been awarded a grant from the Department of Natural Resources to develop a community stewardship program to care for fruit trees on community-owned properties, such as parks, community gardens, schools, and other community areas.

Fruit Trees on Public Land

There are a ton of fruit trees on public property – more than 30 Seattle parks have fruit trees. Parks like Carkeek, Othello, and Martha Washington have extensive orchards with some good specimens. And there are other parks that have planted several fruit trees (mini-orchards) as part of other edible landscaping projects – such as the Linden Orchard P-Patch and Bradner Gardens.

While these trees are of value to the community, their maintenance and care are often times more labor-intensive than non-edible trees. And typically the civic landscaping budgets cannot cover the costs of the pruning, managing pests, harvesting fruit, etc. So we’ve been talking with the Seattle Parks Department to figure out how to better care and nurture these trees, harvest and use the fruit, and not negatively impact the bottom line. This project is our attempt to create a model by which we can make that a reality.

About the Project

The project has three main objectives:

  • Create and pilot test a curriculum and training program on fruit tree care for lay gardeners
  • Develop a sustainable, volunteer-based model for the care of fruit trees on public properties
  • Recruit and train 12 – 15 volunteers interested in fruit tree management, using them to evaluate the training curriculum and the stewardship model

We’re really using Seattle’s successful Forest Steward program (a project of the Green Seattle Partnership) as a blueprint – that project builds on volunteers’ desires to work with others to improve the urban landscape. Fruit tree stewards will be responsible for winter and summer pruning, thinning of fruit, recruiting community volunteers to harvest fruit, picking up dropped fruit, summer watering, and basic pest management. The goal is to place at least two stewards per park, with each making a two-year commitment to their orchard. (In the future, stewards can be rotated so that experienced orchard stewards are paired with new ones.)

By the end of this project, volunteers will ‘adopt’ the fruit trees in 4 – 5 public parks. Through collaboration between public agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and the volunteers themselves, the project will create a mechanism through which a fruit tree stewardship program can be sustained over the long-term. Such a model could easily be adapted by other communities interested in preserving this resource but lacking public monies to do so.

To Participate & More Info

If you’re interested in becoming one of the fruit tree stweards or have questions about our new project, e-mail info@cityfruit.org.

 

May11

Books to make your garden grow…

The Seattle Times’ Pacific section this last Sunday had a good review of books to enhance your urban gardening and cooking experience. Of particular interest: “In “The Urban Pantry,” by gardener/writer Amy Pennington, co-founder of Urban Garden Share in Seattle and producer of KIRO Radio’s “In the Kitchen with Tom and Thierry” with chefs Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau, writes about everything from stocking the pantry to cooking with what you grow.”

Apr23

Get ready for all that fruit coming your way!

Seattle Tilth, located at the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, room 140 (Senior Center), Seattle, WA 98103
is offering the following great workshop:

The Master Food Preservation Educator Training will provide trainees with the knowledge and skills to train others on safe methods of food preservation. The class series will include food preservation history, food borne illness overview, canning techniques for fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood, pickling and fermenting, freezing and dehydrating procedures, and teaching strategies. The course will be taught during six Saturday classes that will include one part lecture, one part kitchen practicum, and one part teach-back activities to build teaching techniques and skills. Upon completion of the course attendees will be certified by Seattle Tilth to teach Food Preservation for 3 years. The course will be taught by Susy Hymas, a Master Food Preserver and Nutrition Educator with 30 plus years of food preservation experience. For more information about other Seattle Tilth classes, visit our website.
COST: $350; payment plans and some scholarship assistance are available.
Dates: May 8, 15, 22, June 5, 12, 19, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
To register, download an application form and mail it in with your payment.
To get to their website, click here

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Mar11

A new take on an old motto….

Blue Mountain Cider Company in Milton-Freewater, Oregon (right next door to Walla Walla, Washington home to some of the finest wineries in the country), has a new take on the old motto ‘an apple a day…’: theirs is ‘An Apple a Day…One Glass at a Time’! One of City Fruit’s future projects is to use the not-so-pretty-apples picked from your garden in cider making. With donations from you, we can invest in a cider press, can teach classes on cider making, and help feed community spirit with another great hands-on learning experience.Be sure to check out Blue Mountain Cider Company’s Facebook page

Mar03

Red and Black Currant Jam

With all the discussion in previous posts about red and black currants, I just had to share this recipe! Both types of currants are also great as a base in sauces for most kinds of meat and fowl…more of those recipes later.

Read about the wonderful berry farmer, George Richter and buy his berries when they are in season or berries from your local farmer.

As with all jams and jellies, make a small batch as indicated here, so that it cooks well and thoroughly for the short time indicated, preserving the pure flavor of the berries.
Yield: Makes 5 cups
ingredients
2 pounds 12 ounces red currants, stemmed
1 pound 4 ounces black currants, stemmed
1/2 cup water
2-1/2 cups sugar
preparation

Place the red currants in a medium-sized, heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat and cook until they are steaming. Stir and press on them gently so they release their juices. When most of the berries are broken (after 4 to 5 minutes) and have released their juices, remove them from the heat and put them gently through a food mill – the pulp left from the berries should still be somewhat moist, not totally dry. If you press the berries too much, the resulting jelly won’t be crystal clear. Strain the juice through a fine -mesh sieve and reserve.

Place the black currants and the water in a medium-sized, heavy bottom pan over medium high heat and cook until the berries and liquid are steaming. Stir, pressing on the berries, so they release their juices. When the berries are soft and broken and have released much of their juice remove from the heat and put them gently through a food mill. If you press the berries too much, the resulting jelly won’t be crystal clear.Strain the juice through a fine -mesh sieve, and reserve.

Combine the juices and the sugar in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Set the timer for exactly 3 minutes, remove from the heat and ladle the jelly into sterilized canning jars.

Jan08

Canned Pears in January

Our pears.

We have a couple of pear trees in our yard — one old that produces well and one brand new one that didn’t do much last year. Nancy, my wife and City Fruit board member, went to one of the canning classes we offered up and learned all about canning.

With that bit of knowledge she took off. She canned what pears we couldn’t eat from the tree and even went over to a friends house one day to help them can peaches and make huckleberry jam.

Once you kind of get the idea and understand the steps involved, it’s very doable.

But all this just to say that the phrase “Canned pears in January” kept running through my head last night as I was eating a small bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in canned pears from our backyard.

So very tasty. We’ll definitely be canning again next year.