In the winter months, citrus fruits shine like miniature suns, their warm colors and sweet flesh almost incongrous amidst the rainclouds and the staid winter veg. They seem to bridge a gap in the seasons, these cheerful, intensely-flavored fruits, coming into season just as the palate begins to wonder, somewhat plaintively, if there isn’t more to eat than root vegetables.
Oh citrus, with your fragrant, star-shaped flowers, and your bright pebbled skins, and your zest and your tart juices and your sweet flesh, citrus trees with your evergreen leaves and your generous harvests, and your zip and your zing and your zest, in this cold and drizzling month we are celebrating you, dear citrus, and this journal is a song of praise and thanks.
We begin this celebration with Lemon Cream, great pale yellow clouds of it, to adorn everything from salads, soups, and seafoods, to the first of the spring berries.
The kumquat is an inside out and backward sort of citrus; the fruits are small as oblong marbles, the rind is sweet and uniquely edible, and the flesh is sour, though full of flavor. You can pop the delightful aberrations in your mouth, whole, for an explosion of citrus flavor, or slice them and infuse their essence into a clear spirit, as we have done here. After that, you’re just a few sweet steps away from sipping a pretty fantastic cocktail.
Lemonade is known as a summer drink, the epitome of tart refreshment on a hot summer day. But lemons, despite their year-round ubiquity in the store, are winter fruits, mostly. Right now is the best time to make lemon curd, preserved lemons…and of course, lemonade! Here’s a simple, delicious recipe for lemonade concentrate. Add water to tailor the flavor to just as you like it. Dare we mention that undiluted, it is essentially a perfect sour mix for cocktails? There’s that, too. You can have it both ways.
It’s no secret around here that we like to can and ferment, and make fresh seasonal food. This recipe for a citrusy winter salsa combines ALL of these pleasures into one delightful bowl. That’s worth dunking a chip or two into.
Spring cleaning’s a thing, but you know, there’s really no reason it cannot start a little sooner, in this season of cabin fever. We like to keep this simple cleaner on hand for all sorts of tasks, especially windows and stovetops. Just a few citrus rinds mellow the intense vinegar odor and add their own cleansing oils to the mix. We won’t go so far as to say it makes cleaning fun…but it does make it better, for sure.
There’s more to the world of citrus, of course; if you too have caught the citrus fever, check out some of these favorite citrus recipes from the past. Beyond Lemonade: Preserved Lemons, Lemon Curd, and Dehydrated Lemons; Candied Citrus Rind; Blood Orange Port Marmalade; Marmalade Cocktails; Lemon Lavender Marmalade; Lazy Lady’s Bitters, and more.
Though we have citrus on the brain, there’s no citrus in the demonstration garden here, alas. Perhaps we should fix that…but in the meantime, there is plenty of other work to be done in the garden this time of year. Dig into the Garden Notes.
We’re pleased to announce that we will indeed be selling bees this year; they’ll come again in the form of nucs from a local Beekeeper. As usual, the exact date is dependent on weather and wildflowers; we’ll keep you posted here as events unfold.
But are you still in the early stages of deciding whether or not to keep bees? Are you bee-curious, but not quite ready to commit to a hive of thousands of stinging insects? You’re smart. Come to our free class to learn what you might be in for. It’s called To Bee or Not To Bee, and it is a basic overview of beekeeping equipment, practices, and terminology. Our own queen bee Karla DeLong will be holding forth on all these subjects, and it is the best sneak peek into the world of beekeeping that we know of. Did we mention it’s free? Space is limited though, so please sign up online, or at the front counter of the store, to reserve your space. Class is held on February 11th; Lecture from 11-12;30, followed by Equipment Overview from 1-2pm.
RSVP IS REQUIRED
For those who have successfully overwintered their beehives, and are looking for more information on how to proceed with their second-year colonies, we offer this class on Spring Management & Swarms. An intermediate class, it assumes familiarity with the basic terminology and hive structure, while providing a more in-depth look at the seasonal challenges and opportunities the beekeeper must manage every spring. From feeding to preventing swarming, and assessing the health, strength, and food stores of overwintered bees, this class is a great way to expand and refresh your knowledge about these fascinating creatures that we tend. Sign up online or in store for the Spring Management & Swarms class, held February 24th at Mountain Feed, from 10-1 pm.
Have you perhaps resolved to eat a healthier diet in the coming year? Have you wanted to try out some of these fun fermentation recipes, but are not quite sure where to begin? Or perhaps you have tried fermenting, but are not entirely comfortable with the process yet? We got you. Come Feb 17th, we’ll be hosting a Fermented Vegetable class, here at the store from 10-12pm. Karla and Jess will walk you through making both brine-based ferments, like Pickled Carrots, and Sauerkraut. We’ll explore the process of fermentation, from start to finish, including ingredient selection, equipment, health benefits, and troubleshooting. This is always a fun, engaging, and informative class. Come away inspired to begin your own fermentation journey! Sign up here, or come by the store to sign up in person.
We hope you see you soon! Whether you come to a class, stop by to browse the store or visit us here online, we are gearing up for a year of exciting events here at the store. We’ll have more classes to announce in the weeks and months ahead, and as always, we would most like to know what sort of classes and events spark your interest the most. Please let us know, by clicking the Contact Us link on our website, or find us on Instagram or Facebook.
Happy February, folks. A short month, but we hope a bright and delicious one. Spring is just around the corner! Think bees and trees and flowers and peas, and a world of kraut and kindness. See you soon...