October 2015: Pumpkin, Cider & Spice



The days are shorter and the nights grow cool, the summer crops are fading. But fall has an abundance all her own, of foods that last and store well in the winter months to come; apples, winter squash, brassica.

Now the firewood is stacked by the door, the pumpkins are sitting fat-bellied on the porch, like ribbed orange moons at rest. Hard cider is bubbling in the shed, and applesauce simmers on the stove, redolent of spice and autumn. Cauliflower ferments in a jar, with the last of the summer peppers to enliven their brainy ivory. And the walnut trees bear young, green nuts, that smell strangely of pine when you slice them.

As the Seasons Change...

Oh autumn. Let's not hurry through you, wishing for rain, or mourning the passage of summer. Let's dwell in you as though we were meant to be here. I mean right here, on this ground, in this season, tasting the fruits that are ripe in this in-between time. This is no sacrifice, no hardship to be endured for reasons of ego or altruism. This is pure delicious revelry.

We love to have a good time, we do, and of course food and drink are anchors of any gathering.

Consider the word, gathering. Of friends, of fruits; a coming together, an assembly. Now imagine an apple orchard, hung with fruit, and friends and children gathered there too, baskets in hand. To gather, to collect, to come together. It's no stretch to see the common root here, the way a harvest can bring people together. Together, we can pick more than we might pick alone. Lean a ladder against the trunk, climb up in to the canopy. It's apple season...

The Taste of Cider is in the Air: Two Cider Articles

Beginning and intermediate cider making tips with Jess Tunis...

how to make apple cider home kit intermediate tips

Not to Forget Fall Fermentation

And now that the apples are picked and pressed, milled and made into forms to last throughout the year, (and the scraps made into vinegar, perhaps?) we turn our attention to the cauliflower.

Fermented Cauliflower Recipe with Lively Chilis

Staff Pick Recipe for October...

Pumpkins: Beyond Jack O' Lanterns

Pumpkins are one of those amazing foods that seem made just for the fall. Which, really, they are, being the product of centuries of careful breeding and seed-saving. We have our ancestors, and those from other cultures, too, to thank for the wide diversity of food crops available to us in this modern world. The pumpkin is especially well suited to the season of it’s ripeness. Long-lasting storage capacity, to keep the people fed through an uncertain winter. And that color, warm as a wood fire, warms you from the inside out.

From savory pumpkin soup to sweet pumpkin bread, roasted pepitas and the ubiquitous pie, the pumpkin is a versatile vegetable. Here, we present two of our favorite recipes featuring this rotund harbinger of the season.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread and Delicious Pepitas Recipes

Two Delicious Pumpkin Recipes with Jess Tunis...

Reflect, Revise and Remember: Keeping a Homestead Journal

The pantry shelves are groaning beneath the weight of jars, preserves and sauces gleaned from the exuberant excess of summer.

It's a good time to take stock and reflect on the season behind us, and the season to come.

In that vein, we offer this reflection on the keeping of a homestead journal. Like these digital pages that arrive in your mailbox every month, a homestead journal is a record of seasons and flavors, successes and failures. As the years pass, a homestead journal becomes ever more valuable, as a point of reference, and a resource to refer to, time and again.

There’s no right or wrong time to begin. There’s only the days that we live in, that follow one another like breath, and any one time is as good as another to begin keeping track: of what we have done, what we have made, what we aspire to, and what we wish to be reminded of. Open up to a blank page, set pen to paper, or fingers to a lighted screen. Here’s how we approach a seasonal journal...

And One Last Recipe for October...

The true value of a journal becomes more apparent over time, as the pages become dog-eared with reference. And so it is with many things that improve with age.

We've made a young Nocino, whose progress can be viewed on the wooden shelf of our housewares store. Made from the green, immature nuts of a walnut tree, the liquid will turn from lime green to deepest, darkest black as it ages. Traditional in parts of Italy, it is drunk as a digestif after meals. It's the end of the season for immature walnuts, right now.

The bright green outer casings of the walnut look something like small, speckled apples; catch them when they're young and fresh. As the nuts mature, the shell that is forming inside will become too hard to slice through. Curious? Here's the complete recipe...

How to Make Nocino: an Italian Walnut Liqueur

Featured recipe with staff expert Jess Tunis...

We'll raise a glass of that dark brew, someday, to toast our friends and fellows. In the meantime, perhaps, we'll toast them with a glass of last years' apple cider. The supply of that treat is running low, however. It's time to make more! 

Tour Notes from the Mountain Feed Roadshow...

Yes, it's cider makin' time! Join us, if you will, at the last of the seasons Farmer's Market classes.

This one will be a grand finale. Jess and Karla will be teaching a class on making hard apple cider at the Downtown Farmer's Market on Wednesday, October 7, in a lively and wide ranging class that will cover everything from picking the apples, through crush and fermentation, bottling and storing your finished cider. As it's the last of the season, we thought we'd do a little celebrating as well, so there will be a live band and cider tastings, as well as apple pressing demonstrations. Join in the joy! Come celebrate apple season with us!

Hard Apple Cider Class & Tasting

Wednesday Oct. 7th
Santa Cruz Downtown Farmer's Market
More event info here

Have a Wonderful October Friends...

We'd love to see you at the class, but if you can't make it, you can always visit us here, or even better! at our store in Ben Lomond. Or who knows, we may come to you!

We went down to Santa Barbara last month, to be a part of the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival, and we saw some familiar faces among all the new ones. The Festival was awesome, and we got to talk till we were hoarse, about fermentation, fermentation, fermentation of course! A thing dear to our hearts and guts. It was great to be down in that beautiful town, to see some familiar faces and so many new interested ones. If you're just receiving this journal for the first time since signing up down there, we'd like to extend you an especial welcome. For all the rest of you...well, you are always welcome.

Wherever you are, we thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this journal, and we wish you all the very best of luck, in fermentation, and beyond!

Over to You...

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.