Friday, August 26, 2011

Farming in July

Yeah, yeah, I know July is LONG gone but just for the record...

I spent a lot of time in the month of July trying to make my meat surplus shelf stable because my freezer was very literally overflowing. This is what a five pound bag of pig fat looks like, cubed and ready to be rendered (I did about 5 of these):

And this is what my kitchen looked like during the render-fest:
The crock pots were going 24/7 to render the fat; there are multiple methods to rendering but I found that doing it in crock pots was the easiest. In the jars you can see the finished product, still hot from rendering after being strained from what you see on the stove, which are "cracklins". What you can't see are my counters and floors covered in fat drippings. Kinda slippery. After rendering most, but not all of the fat in my freezer I got 3 jars of tallow and maybe 8 jars of lard? A years supply, yes indeed.

 In addition to the fat rendering I have been making and pressure canning bone broths to store up for all those cold winter soup-based dinners. NEVER THROW OUT YOUR BONES!!! Soon I will experiment with making pemmican from some beef that I dried. Wahoo! Experimental food!

Meat: 7; We culled our flock down to 11 birds and split them into two breeding groups.
Eggs: 187 equivalent of 3 dozen large chicken eggs.
Produce: The gardening lesson of the month was that used coffee grounds make great fertilizer and are often free! Also, Brussels sprouts are best tasting when they have had a frost making them a great fall weather crop. We planted ours in spring and noticed in June that they were already forming sprouts. If we let those sprouts grow to full size they would be tough and inedible. Not to be dismayed I read that by picking the sprouts when they are the size of marbles they would still be tender and the stalk would continue to grow more sprouts. It works and they certainly are delicious! When we get closer to the first frost we will stop harvesting these at marble size and let them grow to full size.
  • Beets: 11 oz.@ 1.40/lb= .96
  • Snow Peas: 9 oz. @ 3.40/lb=  $1.91
  • Green beans: 2 lbs. 5 oz. @1.80/lb= $4.16
  • Carrots: 1 1b. @1.20/lb= $1.20
  • Chard: 4 lbs. @3.34/lb= $13.36
  • Kohlrabi: 1 lb. 7 oz. @2.86/lb=  $4.11
  • Cucumbers: 7 lb.@ 3.76!!!/lb= $26.32 Wouldn't you know that I grew a rare and sought after cucumber variety called 'crystal apple?' The regular cukes were going for 1.50/lb =$10.50
  • Principe Borghese tomatoes: 1 lb. 6 oz. @ 2.13/lb= $2.93 This is a lovely cherry-type drying tomato
  • Strawberries: 4 lb. @4.55/lb= $18.20
  • Brussels sprouts: 4 oz.  Couldn't get a price on this because they aren't yet in season
  • Kale: 10 oz. @ 1.77/lb= $1.11
  • Peppers: 3 oz. @ 2.00/lb= .38
Estimated value of July Produce Harvest: $58.82 and that is without the inflated crystal apple cukes!

Bartering: This month I bartered my canning services for green beans from my mother-in-law and canned 20 pints in my new-to-me pressure canner. I was able to keep 11 pints. My friend also let me pick my favorite "sungold" cherry tomatoes from her garden for a split of the proceeds. I now have a quart of delicious dried sungolds. They taste like candy!