Saturday Reflection at Pure Grace Farms

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.’ –  Margaret J. Wheatley

Saturdays on the farm are always my favorite. There is no need to set an alarm as I am usually up before the dawn anyway. The house is blissfully quiet as I tiptoe to the coffee pot, pour a cup of coffee and ease into my favorite chair to watch the sun rise over the mountains. As the sky evolves in color from grey to pink, orange to red, finally settling on its shade of blue, I have time to reflect on the week that has past and the week to come. 

Sliced Tomatoes for Sun Drying:How to Sun Dry Tomatoes - So Sweet , taste better than candy.  www.puregracefarms.com

Today my reflection is on the cold weather that is certainly coming and the need to harvest warm weather crops before the frost sets in. I have left my peppers on the vine as long as I dare, as this past week I have had to cover them twice to keep the frost at bay. Today will be spent harvesting, roasting, drying, chopping and freezing peppers. Tomatoes are still going crazy, so these will have to be attended to as well. Fortunately, last week was spent sun drying tomatoes so I am able to check this task off my list.

Home made drying frames:How to Sun Dry Tomatoes - So Sweet , taste better than candy.  www.puregracefarms.com

Sun drying tomatoes is surprisingly simple to do. The biggest hassle is in keeping the insects away. I use cheesecloth to cover the tomatoes and cover the frames with an additional light garden cloth. Works like a charm. If you need something to dry tomatoes on, check out the homemade drying frames here. Once the tomatoes are dried, put a few in olive oil for a great addition to pasta or salad dishes, I like to eat them straight out of the jar, they are so sweet and better than candy. 

How to Sun Dry Tomatoes - So Sweet , taste better than candy. puregracefarms.com Saturday would not be complete without a special nod to one of my favorite blog sites. This weeks nod goes to Earthward. Valeries recipes for pure food are always delicious with beautiful photography. While Earthward does post about local happenings, her tips on seasonal foods like Seasonal eats: 10 reasons to stock up on fresh local tomatoes are informative and worth taking a closer look at.

Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil:How to Sun Dry Tomatoes - So Sweet , taste better than candy. www.puregracefarms.com Enjoy your Saturday and don’t forget to take a few moments for reflecting. I would love to hear what weekend plans you come up with so drop me a line and lets have a nice little chat.

How to Sun Dry Tomatoes

How to make a drying frame

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Preserve your Homegrown Herbs: 3 Simple ways

“How I would love to be transported into a scented Elizabethan garden with herbs and honeysuckles, a knot garden and roses clambering over a simple arbor.” –  Rosemary Verey

Signs of fall are beginning to pop up everywhere at Pure Grace farms. The green bean plants look shaggy, corn stalks are turning yellow, and pumpkins have turned bright orange overnight.   Homegrown Vegetables - Sustainable Living with Pure Foods A sure signal it’s time to harvest the flavorful home grown herbs planted in late spring and early summer, before the chill sets in.  Now is when sustainable living kicks into full gear. Homegrown tomatoes will be canned, frozen, sun dried and made into every kind of sauce imaginable. Root vegetables, leafy greens, onions and garlic are readied for planting to ensure a steady supply of pure food over the winter and on into spring of next year.

How to Preserve Homegrown Basil: In the Freezer-My first choice for preserving fresh garden herbs is to place them in a bed of ice.  I appreciate simplicity and this method is very simple.  The herbs retain their color and flavor my pure food recipes as they would if I had picked them straight out of  my garden.

When harvesting your herbs it is good to remember that basil, savory, parsley, marjoram and dill are considered tender herbs and will not survive even a light frost.  The leaves from these herbs should be harvested and the plants removed. For sustainable living, you can leave a  few plants until they flower and produce seed.  Then harvest the seeds to use for next years season. 

How to Dry Homegrown Herbs: In The Pantry-Drying fresh homegrown herbs does not have to be difficult.  I have found a way that works for me that is quite simple and painless.

Oregano, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, mint and sage are hardier herbs. Harvest the leaves heavily leaving plants intact. Before the first frost, place a clay pot upside down over the herbs and spread a thick layer of straw around the pot. This helps to keep the plants viable and they will return in full force next year in spring and early summer.

Preserving homegrown herbs makes sense. You save money, they are delicious for pure food recipes and preserving also increases your progress towards sustainable living.

How to Preserve Homegrown Basil: In the Freezer-My first choice for preserving fresh garden herbs is to place them in a bed of ice.  I appreciate simplicity and this method is very simple.  The herbs retain their color and flavor my pure food recipes as they would if I had picked them straight out of  my garden.

Fresh herbs are a delicious way to season pure food recipes.  Unfortunately, they do not stay fresh forever. 

I would like to share with you three simple ways I preserve my herbs after harvesting. The first way is to freeze them in small usable portions.  These little cubes work great in soups and sauces for a wonderful homegrown fresh flavor. 

How to Preserve Homegrown Herbs with Sea Salt: In the Pantry

The second way I preserve herbs is using sea salt as a natural preservative.  The beauty of sea salt is that it preserves your herbs fresh and once preserved no refrigeration is necessary.

 The final way I preserve my herbs is by drying on a simple homemade drying rack.  Tim has made several racks. They are great for stacking. The drying  process is quick and easy.

How to Dry Homegrown herbs: In The Pantry-Drying fresh homegrown herbs does not have to be difficult.  I have found a way that works for me that is quite simple and painless.

Once dried, herbs can be mixed together in different combinations to make tasty blends that save you the expense of buying them at the grocery store. Best of all you know exactly what you are getting when you grow, preserve and make your own blends. Sustainable living at it’s best.

I will be sharing  my favorite seasoning blends in my upcoming post. Write and tell me your all time favorite seasoning blend and I will spread the love and share some of those recipes in my next post.

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Seven Springs Homestead:Green Thumb Thursday