October 2017: An Autumn Rainbow



Marigolds are blooming, orange and red and yellow, and figs swell softly on white branches. The pumpkin vine still sprawls across the garden path, robust and seemingly oblivious to the shortening days. The peppers, latecomers to summer plentitude, are at their peak in shades of red, orange, green, yellow, and even purple, round or tapered or blocky or shaped like tongues of fire. Harvest such abundance now, in preparation for the long days ahead.

Although this first recipe bears resemblance to the Sambal recipe we recently posted, we have a different set of intentions for this rainbow of fermented pepper pastes. We’re thinking now of dark winter evenings that will soon be upon us, and how that bright, hot flavor of summer gets concentrated in a jar of fermented peppers. Make this one now, and keep it tucked away for a few months. Come January, you’ll be glad you did. A dollop of this paste into some diced, canned tomatoes; voila! Probiotic peak salsa in the middle of winter. This is what preservation is for, folks.

Fermented Chili Pepper Paste

fermented pepper paste

And speaking of tomatoes. Here is a recipe for those that grow tomatoes at home; we’ve yet to see unripe green tomatoes for sale anywhere. It breaks the heart to pick them green in the early season, when we are still awaiting the fullness of their sweet, red, juicy glory. But now, as the days grow shorter, we may find some green tomatoes left on the vine, destined by cruel fate never to ripen. If you are the sort who dwells on what might have been, this recipe may bring about a healing of sorts. Because What Might Have Been should never get in the way of What Might Yet Be.

Fermented Green Tomato Chutney

fermented green tomato chutney

Ah, yes. The Now. Now let us consider the season without thought of preservation, or fermentation. Just the taste of the season, the changes in temperature and the angle of light. A single small pumpkin, an armful of kale, an ancient grain. This next recipe has roots that run way back, though it was recently published in Sarah Britton’s new(ish) book Naturally Nourished. She calls it a Ceremonial Stuffed Pumpkin. While we like the sound of that, the truth is, it can be made and eaten, without undue attention to ceremony or fussiness. For all it sounds fancy, it’s really a simple dish for a cool evening, as autumn drifts like a leaf toward winter. 


Ceremonial Stuffed Pumpkin

cerimonial stuffed pumpkin


If you’re gluten-free, or if you aren’t, we advise you to keep reading. Every cook, regardless of their personal preferences regarding gluten, should have this recipe in their repertoire. It’s strange and wonderful, satisfying and mystifying, all at once. It pleases friends on either side of that most contentious of aisles: The Gluten Divide. The cheese helps. Hark, you say? Tell you more? 


Brazilian Cheese Bread

brazilian cheese bread


There now, we put up two entire recipes that were not about fermentation or preservation. You know what we would like to do now? We would like to preserve some figs. In Brandy. And spoon them over cakes and creams. And make cocktails from their juice. Join us in this indulgence, won’t you?

Brandied Figs
brandied figs

 A simpler, heartier injunction follows. Harvest your herbs now! Before it gets too cold, and too wet, and too muddy. While we like our herbs preserved so many ways, blended to pestos or fermented in pastes, one of the simplest ways is the most versatile; dry them. I can’t count the number of people I know who buy dried rosemary, in a county graced with a rosemary bush on every corner. Rosemary aside, most oregano goes semi-dormant in the winter, so now may be the last chance to harvest some, even if it comes from spent flower stalks rather than the preferred fresh shoots of springtime. Basil, dill, mint, stevia; all of these herbs are best snipped now, and dried at cool temperatures to preserve freshness and maximize flavor retention. C’mon, it’s easy. 

Dried Herbs & Flowers

dried herbs

What else is going on in the garden, besides the harvest of herbs and green tomatoes and pumpkins? Beans are still steady, peas are coming on, arugula is prolific. The compost spawned a flush of unseasonal sproutlings, and the popcorn patch is ready for poppin’! Here follows a closer look, at the little patch of ground we claimed, years ago, at the edge of the sidewalk. What a sweet little farm it has become!

Garden Notes

october garden

Workshops & Events


We headed south recently, to partake once again in the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. Like birds who undertake a yearly migration, we are drawn to this event every year. We had to send a smaller contingent than usual this season, but we were glad to be there, and made some great connections with fermenters and the kraut-curious that we hope will flourish in the years to come. To all who may be receiving their first issue of the Homestead Journal because of this event, greetings and warm welcome from your friends to the north. Come see us in the Santa Cruz Mountains sometime. And in the meantime, we’ll be linked right here, exploring new flavors and recipes together. Let us know how you like it, or if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see discussed in a journal article. We are always open to suggestions; it’s the reason we became a feed store with a nursery, which spawned a kitchen department that became a teaching, traveling, fermentation roadshow! On we go.

Our little roadshow just completed a residency at the Santa Cruz County Fair, too, showcasing our aquaponics systems and giving talks on the importance and benefits of pollinators in the garden. Some lucky winner who entered the raffle to win the Symbiotic Aquaponics system we raffled off at the fair is at home dreaming of catfish dinner and basil all year round…and we can hardly blame them. And our very own Jessica Tunis, humble author of this very journal, won second place with her display garden. Thanks to all who stopped by our booth to say hi, old friends and new alike. Your continuing interest and enthusiasm keeps us inspired, too.

Happy October, Happy Autumn, Happy Fermentation.

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.
This journal and the articles in it were written by Jessica Tunis, unless otherwise noted.