We are finally all caught up with our plantings on the farm. Farmer Jim and Shannon will be finishing planting the beans and some sunflowers this afternoon. Then the cycle of planting begins again, tomorrow. Farmer Jim staggers his plantings to increase crop availability for your enjoyment. Another benefit of succession planting is mitigating the risk of a failed crop and knowing another crop is due soon. Crops that do well using successive planting are salad greens, beans and peas.
Another method used on the farm to extend the harvesting is using different varietals such as early bearing corn or strawberries. Next week we will talk more about the variety of berries we have on the farm.
Shannon and Leah are being sent out on another prickly mission. This week the farm crew will be picking Gooseberries for the CSA shares. Picking can be painful due to the plant’s spiky, spiny stems. The crew will be looking for darker firm berries while she is out picking them.
The berries can be stored unwashed, dry and lightly covered for a few days in the refrigerator.
Gooseberries make excellent jelly or can be added to smoothies, providing a tart flavour to balance the sweetness.
Pull off the top stems and bottom tails of the berries and swap them in for raspberries or blackberries in mixed berry jam, or use them in place of rhubarb.
SPICED GOOSEBERRY CHUTNEY
Makes two cups (two jars).
Adapted from a Canadian heritage recipe from Canadian Living Magazine. A perfect side to serve with turkey, duck, chicken, or pork (plain or cured). My favourite: smoked turkey and spiced gooseberry sandwich!
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled. Make sure to use a large enough pot to accommodate the increase in volume.
NOTE: if you don’t want to use a canner, pour the chutney into the jars, screw on the lids, let cool overnight. Store in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks.
1 cups sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick, (about 2 inches/5 cm), broken
6 whole cloves
4 pods green cardamom
2-1/2 cups gooseberries, topped and tailed
2 canning jars (250 ml each)
2 fresh lids and screw bands
tongs, ladle, wooden spoon
canning funnel and canning tongs
boiling water canner or large soup pot with round cooling rack
In large Dutch oven, stir together sugar, vinegar, water and salt. In a double thickness of cheesecloth, tie together allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom; hit a few times with rolling pin to crush spices and release flavour. Add to pot.
Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant. Add gooseberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently and adjusting heat so sauce bubbles very gently, until thickened and berries are tender, about 25-30 minutes (this may take more time with a doubled or tripled recipe). Remove spice bag. Holding firmly with tongs, press the bag against the inside of the pot to squeeze the juices back into chutney. BE CAREFUL while doing this! Discard bag and spices.
If you are not canning the chutney, ladle it into clean jars, screw on the lids, and let cool overnight. Store in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks. Or you can serve within an hour or two (as long as it is cool enough not to burn your mouth).
To can the chutney: Ladle into 2 1-cup (250 mL) hot sterile canning jars, leaving 1/3-inch (1 cm) of headspace. Wipe rims with a clean cloth. Cover with new lids which have been kept in hot water (to soften the seal). Screw on bands finger tight. Place in boiling water canner and boil for 10 minutes. Remove to a folded cloth and let cool for 24 hours. Check seals before labeling and storing. Any that haven’t sealed can be kept in the fridge for up to six weeks.