Little Ark of Taste

Did you ever wonder why all bananas in the grocery store are yellow? Where are the red bananas? Hint: It didn’t happen that way naturally.

Ask us, and we’ll tell you that our farm is a Little Ark of Taste representing some of Potter County’s best local foods. On our little Ark of Taste, we are dedicated to the cultivation of delicious and distinctive foods.  We grow them, eat them and promote them right here in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Where else but the local farmers market can you find  items such as local heirloom garlic and heritage varieties of potatoes and onions. Read through our farm’s local food guide to find some of these items — like the rare and almost extinct winter onion, the rare potato onion and the reestablishment of our farm’s original garlic.

For us, it’s about heirloom and heritage varieties because “these foods naturally taste great”. Taste some and see if you agree.  Visit the Potter County Farmers Market and you’ll see a flotilla of Little Arks of Taste as each individual farm has something special to offer. And by the way, if we could, we’d grow red bananas.

FarmBrochure1FarmBrochure2

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Field O’ Garlic

Since the slow start in the early spring, the garlic has grown well. In fact, it looks like we’re back on schedule. We anticipate picking the scapes in mid-June with the bulb harvest in late July. While we wait, we would like to share some information that we found on the Natural News website and The Garlic Song from YouTube.

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(NaturalNews) Hospital antibiotics have become one of the most over prescribed “medicines” today. As a result people have ruined their digestive systems, and ironically, have lowered their natural immunity to all types of infections in the future.

Garlic possesses potent antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties and is able to help protect and facilitate removal of unfriendly bacteria. It is also very high in natural antioxidants that destroy free radicals, which also supports a strong immune system.

The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, is the key component to killing and warding off harmful bacteria. Crush it to activate these compounds, and eat it raw, in a warm tea, or in lightly cooked food.

Learn more: Read Natural News a science-based natural health advocacy organization led by activist-turned-scientist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger.

And last but not least, here’s The Garlic Song

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Go Bananas Making Wine

Advise from a beginner wine maker — Go Bananas! So, you are probably thinking of a tropical fruit wine, right? Well actually, we’re making wine using our very own Potter County grown potatoes.

Peeled Bananas

Peeled Bananas

We have abundance of Russian Bananas fingerling potatoes, which we are making into a potato wine. The interesting thing about potato wine is that every time you boil a batch of potatoes for dinner, the potato cooking broth that usually gets poured down the drain is the part that is needed for the wine making. The cooked potatoes then can be use as they normally would as a food item. And, oh by the way, potato wine tastes fabulous. At least as good, if not better than, the potato salad.

Sliced Bananas

Sliced Bananas

In case anyone was wondering how Russian Bananas got their name, we have a hint. We have some nice ones, shown here. They could pass for banana slices — don’t you think? Look at before slicing photo  — They look like a pile of bananas. These ones were harvested last October, and kept in our old-fashion root cellar, and have held up nicely. They had a few small sprouts starting, but are still very firm and very much useable.

Wine makers notes: To begin, we washed and peeled the potatoes, then we sliced them, and then boil them. Most recipes say to boil them whole and unpeeled. So why did we peel and slice them? To peel or not to peel, that is the question! We find that after long storage time, the Russian banana skins toughen. It is noticeable when they are boiled for potato salad, for example. When they are freshly dug or haven’t been in storage long, the skins are very tender and do not need peeling even if used in potato salad. It is only when they have been in storage for a long time that the skins become slightly tough. In this case, these potatoes are for dual purpose: Boiled to use potatoes for normal uses like potato salad, and we retain the cooking water (potato broth) for the wine making. So, we wanted the potatoes to be scrubbed for the wine-making recipe. And we also wanted in this case, that the potatoes be peeled and sliced for potato salad recipe.

Banana Wine Must

Banana Wine Must

We used Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast, Pectic Enzyme and yeast Energizer (nutrient booster). And, we are using 10-gallon stainless-steel milk can for the primary fermentation vessel. As of today, we have two wine musts in the works. And, the yeast has taken nicely as shown here with thick form layer on both of the musts. For secondary fermentation, we have some 5-gallon glass carboys with airlocks. And, we have a hydrometer and siphon tube at the ready for the next steps in the wine making process.

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Ohman Red Garlic

Bees and trees 028We are down to our last bag of garlic bulbs from last year’s harvest. But no need to worry,  because last fall, we planted about 150 pounds of cloves to harvest again later this summer. Our last of the 2013 is Ohman Red (shown here) and it is still firm, and has it’s very strong garlic flavor.  So, it is indeed a good keeper.

About 5 years ago, we bought some of this kind of garlic from Andy Heffner, who lives over in Ormsby, Pennsylvania not far west of Smethport. And since then, our farm has been growing it. A couple of years ago, we sold some to the Good Growing Gardens at the Poor Farm in Smethport, Pennsylvania.  And, now they grow it too. That’s how heirlooms have remained viable over the years — by being passed to new growers. So with that, here’s the rest of story:

The variety Andy Heffner  grows came from Carl Ohman, a long-time garlic grower in East Smethport. Carl had worked for Tidewater in the 1920’s when they were bringing in Italian immigrants to dig lines by hand. One particular workman Carl taught to speak English and, over the years, they became friends.
Every day for lunch, this Italian worker had two red garlic cloves, pepperoni, Italian bread and a liquid from a green bottle. He was never sick.  Carl eventually learned that the garlic came from the Milan region of Italy. In fact, when people came from Italy to the United States they were told to smuggle in the garlic – men, in their pockets, or women to sew it inside dresses. Any garlic packed in luggage would be found and thrown away.
When Carl finally got some of these bulbs, he had to promise he would replant half of his crop every year. By the time, Andy met him, he was peddling four tons of it. Andy would end up buying 30-35 pounds of it to plant.

Story based on a newspaper clipping: (2009, September 25). ‘Round the Square. The Bradford Era.

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Off To The Bee Yard

A Bee Yard presentation by Dave Smith, a local bee keeper, was given at the North Central PA Beekeepers Association meeting held today in the Keating Summit, Pennsylvania. Here are the sites and scenes from that informative discussion. Keeping pollinator honey bees benefits the environment as well as provides a healthy food product. It’s un-BEE-lievable how important bees are to the world.

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Shallot Surprise

Our first scouting trip to the crop field earlier this spring to check the shallots wasn’t very encouraging. After the cold winter, we noticed that many of the fall-planted shallot sets had heaved up and were partly exposed above the soil. We thought for sure that this would have caused them to fail.  Much to our surprise today, we see that the shallots have started to green-up nicely.

beet soup 240 crop

Shallots have been something that we like to grow, but have had varying degree of success. We have spent a few years now experimenting with them to find the right variety of cold-tolerant shallot to grow in our cold-climate and also to figure out how deep to plant them. In the past years, thinking that shallots are not as cold-tolerant as garlic, we have planted them deeper in the soil to give some protection in the winter and the hash elements. However, the problem was that because the shallots were so deeply planted, they didn’t produce nice large bulbs, but instead a lot of smaller bulbs. Seems that shallots, like onions do best when planted near the soil surface. So, this year we might have finally found the combination. Let’s hope for the best.

 

 

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Aren’t Those Leeks?

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Nope, they are young garlic plants. Garlic and leeks are in the same plant family and at this time of year may look the same. Garlic grow from the cloves planted last fall  in the garlic field.

So in Potter County, here’s a take on that old Poem:

May showers bring local crops,
That is what they say.
But if all the raindrops turned to bulbs and hops,
We’d have quite a flavorful day!

beet soup 234 cropped

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