Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday Night Homesteading Adventures

I'm not sure why I had more mental energy than usual when I came home from work last night. But the homestead benefited as I did corn stuff (harvested and ate my first ear), cherry stuff (harvested and tried to pit), and apple stuff (taste-tested the two types after cooking with sugar and cinnamon). There's more to say about each item, so sit back and relax. This is going to be a long one.

First, the corn. I've been reading on how you know when to harvest corn (crack a kernel with your fingernail and when the fluid runs milky, it's ready to harvest). Now that I've harvested my first ear, I know what it means. I did the fingernail thing and got fluid, so I took that ear of corn. When I did the fingernail thing on a kernel farther down on the ear, the fluid was the color of corn milk, if there were such a thing. Ah, what a discovery! The fluid from kernel closer to the top was clear. Aha! I know people have been learning this for thousands of years, but last night I learned it, and it's a great thing to know!I microwaved that thing whole in the husk for 2 minutes and 45 seconds and then ate it with real butter and salt. The ripe kernels AND the unripe kernels were all yummy!

Then, the cherries:
I've been keeping tabs on the cherry trees for the last week or so to try and figure out when I should be harvesting cherries. When the cherries are red all over and soft, they have a mealy texture that's not appealing. So last night I thought I'd see what happens if I harvest cherries before they get mealy. Since I think these are pie cherries, they'll never get sweet, so I thought maybe harvest time is supposed to be while they're a bit hard.Above are the results of my cherry pitting experiment. I made it through about 5 cherries, shaving off bits of cherry while the cherry tried to stick tight to the pit. This is obviously not the right way to do it. I guess I need to do more research here.

Finally, the apples:
I cut a few apples of each kind into slices and tasted them. The right kind had a sweet beginning taste evolving into tart and the left kind had a more full-bodied flavor that was sweeter than tart.

I cooked each kind separately in a saucepan with sugar and cinnamon. If this were a true test, I would have measured out the same amount of sugar in each. This was an ersatz taste test - I just threw sugar in until I felt like stopping. I cooked just until the sauce began to thicken. The left apples kept their shape better (probably because they're smaller) and tasted WONDERFUL after cooking. The right apples tasted good, but the sugar seemed to take the edge off, leaving this apple with less interesting flavor overall. I have more trees that carry the right apple, so it looks like I'll be doing more tests to find where it shines best.

Stay tuned for more homesteading adventures in future episodes. Today the dogs go to the vet to get their shots. They love the car, so this should be fun. As fun as handling two excited dogs on 4-foot leashes can be, that is.

1 comment:

  1. I think I have corn envy. The picture of your ear of corn looks luscious!

    You need a cherry pitter. They have non-mechanical ones (I mean you do a single cherry at a time with a little gizmo-plunger thingie) that would sure be a lot faster than cutting the cherry off the pit.

    Your not-the-best-tasting apples might make good apple jelly. (Great Christmas presents!) Make lots of applesauce from the yummier ones. Great in the winter for a snack, over oatmeal, with pork, on buttered toast, ooooh, I love applesauce. Or use the apples to make an apple pie filling and freeze that. Then when you want a pie, defrost the baggie of filling and plop it into the crusts. Easy peasy.