Sunday, Sept. 21 began autumn here at home. The weather took notice too, with a cloudy sky and intermittent periods of rain and sunshine. We spent the day harvesting our garden, transitioning garden and kitchen from summer to autumn fare, and even bottling some beer.
First off, we raided the garden. Last year we began a small garden, and this year Jodie expanded her efforts. We’re gradually doing more and more gardening, using our first two seasons in the house to help us understand our land: where the sun shines and when, what the soil needs, which spot is best for which plants, and what we want to plant and where. Here are some of the things we harvested Sunday:
- Apples — we have a large, old apple tree, and are working on what the apples are best for. We’re making (and canning) some apple butter and will see how that goes
- Green Beans (both from our garden and from a neighbor’s — "We put up a hundred pints of beans and just couldn’t do anymore," he told me. "Come over and take all you want." You can’t say no to that.)
- Tomatoes — we planted 2 tomato plants this year with only one thing in mind: making our own sun-dried tomatoes. Or, in this case, oven-dried sun-dried tomatoes (cut in half or quarters based on size, slow-dry on a baking sheet cut-side up at 170°F, 6-10 hours). Depending on how this goes, next year we’re going to look at getting a food dehydrator
- Blueberries — it’s been a late season for blueberries in Oregon this year. Even in September, our two blueberry plants have been covered in berries all month. After about 20 minutes of solid picking, now they are all but bare. Some green berries may yet ripen; we shall see. I put back a cup of blueberries for us to use now, and another cup is on a baking sheet in the freezer, to be bagged up and stored later today.
This also marked the season’s first hearty soup, a lentil and chard soup packed with carrots, potatoes, cumin, onions, lentils and Swiss chard.
Last but not least, we bottled a batch of homebrewed porter. With ingredients purchased from Eugene’s Home Fermenter Center, this recipe was billed as a Black Butte Porter clone. After nearly a month of conditioning, we bottled this beer Sunday evening. Even without carbonation, the beer is flavorful, robust – and tastes a heckuva lot like Black Butte Porter. It’s now going to be put aside for another month, not to be opened until late October or early November, once the rainy season has set in more in earnest here. I’m confident that this is going to be one of our finest batches of beer to-date.
Not a bad start to fall.