September 2015: Sizzle and Sweet



September now, and the light begins to slant, a whisper of fall in the air, though the sun is still strong in the sky. The days are full of heat and at night a breeze is blowing, gently breathing in a new season. The heat of the days is concentrated, in the sweetness of fruits and the red spiciness of peppers, the green lengths of squash, cucumbers, and beans.

The last of the lemons hang on the branches of the old tree like a hundred little lanterns, burning yellow-bright; we pick them into woven baskets and blend them with lavender flowers to make Lemon-Lavender Marmalade.

Lemon Lavender Marmalade Recipe

Featured Recipe with Staff Expert Jess Tunis

Gather the Harvest

All the creatures of the woods and towns are busy gathering against the winter. They say we may get some rain this year, a wet and muddy blessing. In the meantime, woodpeckers are gathering acorns, drilling individual holes for each stored nutmeat.

The mice come out at night and drag away small pieces of amaranth, one at a time, until the whole seeded, weeping, burgundy bush is bare to the stem. The bees are still busily scouting every bloom, and harvesting honeydew from the aphids besides, letting no resource go to waste.

Preserving the Season

In the gardens, at the markets, in the kitchens, people are gathering, too.

Some of us preserve food because we grow it, and some because the act of preservation nourishes us in more ways than one. Some do it out of economy, or a dedication to seasonal eating, or because the bright jars of summer foods make the best gifts for the season of giving ahead.

No matter the kaleidoscope of reasons that motivate us, we see the bustle in our homesteading housewares store, the flats of jars flowing steadily off our shelves, out into the kitchens and pantries of the wider world.

A Celebration, and it’s Aftermath

Many a mason jar, filled with sparkling liquid, was lifted to toast Molly and Ryan last month, as we finally saw our golden couple married off in style.

As anyone who has followed these journals must know, it's been a massive undertaking for these last few months, to gather all the elements together to send these folks off in the style they deserved.

4oz jars of Lemon Lavender Marmalade, Apricot Jam, Huckleberry Jelly and Plum Jam, were stacked as wedding favors for the guests. A whole pig was grown, gifted and roasted, then turned into savory moles and verdes of every kind. Corn was roasted, salsa and guacamole made by the gallon, and 150 plates were piled full. The friends and family danced into the night... and in the morning, the leftovers were piled high.

The Morning After

Whether the bounty comes direct from the garden, or in a circuitous path, good food is good food, to be honored and not wasted.

The very next day, the preservation parties began. Quarts of jalapeños and carrots were brined and set to fermenting; you can see some bubbling away on the shelves of the Ben Lomond store. The piles of roasted corn were divvied up among the crew, and variously frozen, pressure canned, and incorporated into other dishes.

Corn Salsa: Delicious. Fiery. Summer in a Jar.

 Featured Recipe from Molly's Wedding Extravaganza...

Perhaps the most delicious way to use the corn was to include it in a fiery blended salsa, the sweet kernels popping against the sizzling heat of chipotle and fresh jalapeños, roasted onion rounding out the flavor. Whether you have 10 pounds of corn or 50, this is the next best thing, to eating it straight off the golden cob.

Hot Saucy: 3 Methods for Fermented Hot Sauce

Expert Staff Article with Chase, Karla and Dave...

From the Vine, Into the Brine

Salsas and hot-sauces are a guiltless pleasure. No sugar, no ingredients from further than the next county over. Just sea salt, and fresh fruits and vegetables, right off the vine.

Here at Mountain Feed, we've all got our own favorite recipes for our special sauces, whether they be water-bath canned or fermented. You may have enjoyed our recipe last month for fermented jalapeño peppers. But imagine what else could be done with those spicy chunks of green fire. In this article, some of our staff members share their favorite fermented hot-sauce recipes . . .

Tour Notes from the Mountain Feed Roadshow

The latest news and announcements - workshops, festivals and more...

Closest to home, we are pleased to announce the addition of another bee class to our expanding lineup of apiary education. The Fall Management and Winter Preparation Bee Class will focus on the important skills a beekeeper needs to take stock of the health, food stores, and available hive space as autumn approaches and winter looms ahead. Getting your hives set up for overwintering success will create a solid foundation of hive health, enabling your bees to have a successful foraging year ahead. Class will be held on September 13, at Karla's home apiary and will cover winter feeding techniques, robbing prevention, condensation and ventilation issues and more; a complete list of topics to be covered is available here. Space is limited, and spaces are filling up, so pre-register now to make sure that you are prepared to weather the winter ahead!

We're here . . . and we're there. We're everywhere! We're on these world-wide-webs, of course, but we are also at work out in the world, teaching and learning and visiting new places.

Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival

This month the Mountain Feed Roadshow will roll down to Santa Barbara, for the excellent Santa Barbara Farm to Fermentation Festival, on September 20.

It's in a new venue this year; the Stow House, in beautiful Goleta, and it promises to be the kind of scene we love to be a part of, full of curious and excited people, taking the power of food and health back into their own hands.

There will be vendors of every amazing fermented food, and workshops and lectures, covering all aspects of this ancient, healthful, and delicious tradition. We'd love to see you there, old friends and new. Stop in if you can!

Our dear Karla DeLong will be presenting a hands-on demo, a Fermented Salsa Fiesta! It’s always a lively party when you invite Lactobacillus and all their friends in to play . . . come join in the fun!

18 Reasons Urban Ag Academy Event

A little closer to home, Mountain Feed is also participating in the 18 Reasons Urban Ag Academy event: Grow It, Preserve It, Love It. Held on September 12 in San Francisco, at the SF County Fair building, it will be a day full of talks and demonstrations about all of the things we are most excited about; community, food and foodsheds, fermentation, preservation, and the like.

Although Mountain Feed will not have a booth there, our own food preservation darlings, Jess and Karla, will be there, facilitating and assisting and answering questions as they so enjoy doing.

There will be talks by Novella Carpenter (Farm City) and Pam Pierce (Golden Gate Gardening) to name just a few. Stay a little longer, and kick up your heels at the Barn Dance, to be held afterwards. There’s wine and beer, and sausage, and tamales and veggies and salads . . . and there is a Pie Happy Hour. Need we say more?

And it’s all for a good cause, of course. If you come, you may see those girls, their aprons gone for the night, do-si-doing to the sweet strings of KC and the Moonshine Band. Come for the learnin’, stay for the dancin’!

Have a Wonderful September, Friends

Yes, that’s as good a place to end this journal as any, with the thought of those two friends in fermentation, spinning and grinning and dancing on into the night, while fresh batches of pickles begin to bubble gently, beneath the stars.

We leave you, then, with a list our favorite supplies for end of summer preservation . . . have fun with your food, this month and always. See you next time!

Our Favorite Supplies for End of Summer Preservation

A collection of the essential supplies and tools we use in our end of summer preservation endeavors - from home canning to fermented salsa, we've got you covered... 

Must-have home canning supplies, fermentation vessels and more nifty kitchen gadgets that make life easier in September . . .

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.