Summer is here! Both raspberries and blueberries are ready for picking. Raspberries are at their peak while blueberries are just starting. Tomatoes are also ready as well. We have cherry tomatoes, paste tomatoes and slicers. Basils are going strong! Dahlia, cosmo and zinnia are also blooming. Ask us about cutting your own flower bouquet. The mulberries are loaded as well. They are tedious to pick but oh so delicious!!!
Last year was our first year running Sweet Briar Farm. We ran into many challenges, made a lot of friends, learned many valuable lessons, and had a ton of fun. We understand a lot of things much better and we start to feel the rhythms of the farm a lot clearer. We also acknowledge our limitation and find ways to serve our farm patrons better. With much consideration and consultation, we are excited to share an exciting change with you.
For this year, we would like to open the entire farm up for u-picking. That means you can pick anything you see growing at Sweet Briar Farm from blueberries, raspberries, to heirloom tomatoes, peppers, other vegetables, herbs, and even cut flowers. We certainly will have some vegetables harvested and available in our farm stand during open farm days; however, it will be limited compare to what’s available for picking. You could also let us know what you need and we can harvest for you on availability basis. We will continually post produce availability on our Facebook page.
For the 2017 season, Sweet Briar Farm will be open on Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. Our first farm open day will be June 17. During the week, it will be open by appointment.
We hope you will enjoy this opportunity to gather your own fresh ingredients to turn into delicious meals. Come and see how things are grown on the farm and stay in touch with where your food come from.
Along with this exciting change, we create a Facebook group called “Friends of Sweet Briar Farm“. It will be a place where members can share seasonal recipes. We mostly eat what’s available on the farm and we’d love to share that journey with the group as well. And occasionally, we will post u-picking opportunities for limited produce and discounts for surplus we have available exclusively to group members. We invite all current and future Sweet Briar Farm patrons to join.
We are excited for this new adventure and we hope you are too! If you have any feedback for us, we’d love to hear from you!
It is that time of the year when the chives are blossoming profusely. They are beautiful!
We harvest the blossoms to infuse white vinegar. The vinegar takes on the subtle chive flavor and its beautiful blossom color.
Harvest the blossoms when they are just open, before they set seeds. Put the blossoms in a glass jar and pour white vinegar over it. Keep the jar in a cool dark place for two weeks. After two weeks, strain the vinegar through a fine sieve or using cheesecloth. Store the strained vinegar in a glass bottle to add to your dishes.
On cold and extremely windy days like this, I’m happy that we took the extra time to move our hens to the greenhouse couple months back. The girls absolutely do not want to go outside today. They have plenty of dry warm space to hang out inside while still enjoying the sunlight. And they have vegetables and squashes brought in to them! Talking about spoiled hens!!! I built the structure on the right from sunflower stalks for them. They fight over it every night, and the losers get to sleep on the official roost.
And no, we are not getting many eggs from them this time of year. We are ok with them focusing their energy on keeping themselves warm and healthy. And we are focusing more on keeping them warm and healthy. The time will come when they return the favor!
We have a few productive sugar plum trees this Spring. They are amazingly tasty fresh but we couldn’t eat them fast enough, so we store a fair amount of them in our freezer. Now that things are slowing down in the garden, we have more time to process what we have harvested.
We did a lot of research to find the perfect recipe for the plum since they deserve as much. Most jelly and jam recipes use too much sugar. We wanted a recipe that let the fruits shine through. We ended up combining several recipes we have found and adjusted them to our taste. It came out exactly as we had hoped, sweet, tangy, plummy, warm with holiday spices, and finish with a hint of orange. Here is the recipe we used which makes about 15 half-pint jars.
3 lbs of plums, pitted
4 medium apples, chopped
1 fresh pineapple, chopped
2 oranges, juiced and zest
1 lemon, juiced and zest
1 lime, juiced and zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground clove
low or no sugar pectin
sliver of butter
4 cup of sugar
Combine plums, apples, pineapple, all the juices in a pot and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes while stirring frequently.
Add all the spices, butter, and pectin (*) and turn the heat to high to achieve a rolling boil while stirring constantly. The butter will keep the mixture from foaming.
Pour in the sugar and cook for another minute while stirring.
Ladle the hot jam into the hot, sterilized canning jars and seal with lids and rings.
Refrigerate when cool or proceed with canning (**).
(*) Follow the instruction that comes with the pectin you use for the appropriate amount to add. The key to this recipe is to use pectin that does not require sugar to gel. We used Ball Real Fruit Pectin for this batch. We plan on trying Ponoma’s Universal Pectin next.
(**) This recipe has not been tested in a lab for its safety. We tested the acidity ourselves and found it to be at 3.15 pH which deems safe for canning; however, you should always check it for yourself since real fruits will vary based on many factors. We also use a pressure canner for canning.