Tuesday 28 April 2015

The Un-Planned Harvest

The remainder of the honey extraction went well as we settled on a workable and non-messy technique. We worked our way through the four, two-sided frames at a couple or three of sides a day and ended up with a very satisfying 22 of our small jars, at 150 g (net). 3.3 kg total. These little jars come from Lidl containing their very reasonable 6-pack paté variety pack and are superbly useful for things like this. We have a lot of people eye-ing up our honey keenly and by potting it up in these 'taster' quantities, we can make plenty of them happy. Oh, and K-Dub... we did try out your method but could not get the honey to leave the honeycomb. K-Dub had suggested that if we un-capped a frame and put this into our tall fermentation bucket at an angle, then whirled it round my head, I might generate enough centrifugal force (I might mean centripetal) to throw the honey out of the comb. Well, I whirled and whirled till my shoulder was nearly dislocated and got no more than a thimble full, hence our change to the warm-gravity method described in my previous post.

Honey on ciabatta for breakfast.
In celebration of our new largesse, Liz decided to knock up a ciabatta bread to eat it on. Neither of us appreciated how sloppy is ciabatta dough and how it spreads out sideways during the rise. The 'knock down' phase prior to the 2nd proving was more a case of trying to pull it all back into one lump but in the end it went into the oven like that and came out as easily the biggest ciabatta either of us had seen. Perhaps we will divide the dough into three or even four 'loaves' next time.

This ciabatta was easily 14 inches square.
That is the oven-tray it is cosily resting in.
No matter, it just got quartered and the 4 portions will get used up via fridges or freezer as appropriate. It was delicious, especially with the honey for breakfast. It has that lovely 'big air-holes' mouth feel, a bit like crumpets.

With the honey all extracted, Liz has rounded up all the 'cakes' of spent wax with a view to washing them clean, melting and re-cooling the whole into an 'ingot' and then trying out some warm jam-jar alchemy involving coconut oil (4 parts to one part of beeswax, we are advised) to make furniture polish. I will let you know how we get on.

Brine cured pork leg joint
Our attempt to brine-cure some bacon did not go quite as well according to plan. Liz cooked it with an old favourite (Delia, I think) recipe in which the joint is slow boiled in Coca-Cola. Sounds horrific but works surprisingly well. Normally, that is. This time, though, it was superbly tender and was very edible but was possibly a tad salty, probably at our salty limit. We think that this is because although the brine cure worked well, I did not have any specific instructions for "3 inch thick round of leg" so I went with ten days in the brine, but then we got all distracted by Liz coming home, then not, then yes, and it did not get rescued till it had been soaking 14 days. Liz soaked it overnight in water but then did not do the boil, water change, boil, water change again thing as she was using the Coca Cola.

A late frost on Saturday night tries
 to catch us out
All is not lost, though. That joint will be converted into bacon'n'bean soup/stew (with no need to add salt!) and the other two joints will be soaked when they come to be used and get cooked through several changes of water. You live and learn. Any future joints will be brined for fewer days, possibly as few as 3-5. We do not need the salt as preservative, after all, as these 'bacon' joints go into the freezer. The brining is more to give us a change to 'bacon/gammon' from straight pork.

Rather white for the end of April.
A rather brutal change in the weather tries to catch us out as we get frosts, cold winds and lashing rain with gritty bits in it; proper wintry showers. It was all forecast accurately by the superb Met √Čireann team, of course, which gave us a chance to go and cover up the sensitive stuff, mainly asparagus shoots, and it is too early to hit much in the way of 'set' fruit blossom (only the plum and damson seems to have got that far yet). It did hit some new emerging leaves on my poor 'baby trees' though, some sweet chestnut which has barely topped grass height yet looks badly 'scorched'. I hope it has the reserves to put out some replacement leaves.

This gap will be Goldie and Nugget's new run.
The bad weather rather pins us down for outdoor work but this week I do not mind. I am creating a new run for our giant rabbits, Goldie and Nugget in the 'gap' behind the yard wall and the sheep fence. This needs a 'bedroom' so I am back in carpenter mode building a sleeping house for the ladies which I can do in the (now) turkey house out of the wind. The chosen patch of ground is a nice lumpy-bumpy piece of rough grass into which a variety of mud, old cow poo and stone was tossed 3 years ago when the mini digger cleared our yard. We are hoping that the banks and dips will give Nugget enough to aim her well developed digging instinct at without her needing to tunnel out. She can build a nice safe warren under there away from Mr Fox if she needs to with a 'Mummy annex' for Goldie in her autumn years. There is also a wealth of good grass in there and taller stuff which will benefit from a bit of lagomorphic management. Finally one little minor hiccup in the Hubbard dept, as one of the 12 dies while we are out shopping. We have no idea why, you normally don't. Little birds go from quite happy and healthy looking one minute, to dead and cold next time you look without pausing at 'ill'. The remaining 11 all seem happy enough and are eating plenty and putting on lots of weight. More pics of them soon.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

I remember what I added to my beeswax polish, coconut or oil seed, plus either linseed or turpentine.