Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chamomile Tea

As I posted up the photo of the chamomile, it occurred to me to wonder what part of the plant is used for tea. A quick search proved that it's the blossoms! Well, we have lots of those.

So...I went out and snipped them off and will allow them to dry. I think in this weather they don't need to be in the dehydrator! This is pretty much all of the flowers here, so it's not a lot. Still, it's enough to try out and see if I want to grow more German Chamomile next year. It's a self-seeding annual but I don't think I left enough to self-seed!

The info says it has to be German chamomile, that the common roadside chamomile is virtually scent-free, and the Roman chamomile (which is a perennial) isn't the right kind for tea either.

Wikipedia provided this photo and the idea to mix the dry chamomile blossoms with cinnamon and dried apple bits. Might have to try that!

Garden Mayhem

It occurs to me that we haven't talked garden for a few weeks. Everything's growing really well. Except, of course, the things that aren't such as my green pole beans, which didn't germinate, I replanted, and still didn't germinate. Had poor carrot germination also.

No ripe tomatoes yet at our house.

The pumpkin plant thinks that not only should it produce giant pumpkins, the plant itself should be giant.

I've had several pickings of raspberries.

The dill and the chamomile are new best friends.

We're regularly eating beets/beet tops, swiss chard, and lettuce. We've begun stealing baby potatoes from under the plants. We've eaten one fennel and the other one needs picking. The kohlrabi-from-seed is doing well. Must thin the rutabagas soon. A few bush bean plants are doing well, but I don't know that they'll supply even one meal at a time. :(

The bees are happy and making honey, and we added another set of supers one evening last week. The current estimate (two hives) is about 120 pounds of honey.

We're finally getting typical hot July weather, which means Jim is out cutting hay. We're about two weeks behind on that because there hasn't been a rain-free window long enough in the forecast until now. The local farmers' market is in full swing (too bad they don't seem to have anything not in my garden--except ripe tomatoes!) and our friends' cherry trees are bowed under from the weight. Bad year for cherries because they've split from all the rain. But for someone willing to put them straight in the freezer or dehydrator, it's not so bad. The orchards that depend on shipping out are suffering.

That's about where things are in our 'scratch' world!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rhubarb Melomel (Mead) -- Part 3

Today we racked both the amarone wine and the rhubarb mead. For the amarone, which is a kit wine, we followed the directions. For the mead, we made up our own :)

The mead's specific gravity today was .998. .004 down from the first racking. Apparently this is good. (The amarone was also .004 down.)

No photos today, because, well--nothing looks different than last time. We racked the rhubarb mead into a fermenter, then Jim 'degassed' it by agitating it vigorously with an attachment to his drill. Meanwhile I'd mixed 1/2 teaspoon of potassium metabisulphite into 1/2 cup of cool water. We then mixed this thoroughly into the mead, then let it sit 20-30 minutes before re-racking it back into the glass carboy. (We understand the purpose of the PM to be making sure the fermentation is turned off, or complete.)

With fermentation locks in place, both carboys are now out in our mudroom (cooler than under the dining room table where they've been living until now!) with a garbage bag over each to keep them in the dark. And there they shall sit for 2-3 weeks until we do it all again.

Again, the taste tests on both were positive.