Tom’s Sauerkraut recipe

Sauerkraut recipe

“When life deals you cabbages, make sauerkraut!

Sauerkraut is not a pickled or brined preserve but a fermented product which has many health benefits. Vitamins B and C and lots of food enzymes and ‘friendly bacteria’. But the best thing is that it’s the easiest fermented food to make, and more importantly it is a great way to use up excess cabbages.”, Tom

Ingredients:

  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 tbsp salt (the posh stuff if you’ve got it)
  • Large glass jar (a kilner jar is best)

Method:

  1. Take one cabbage, remove a few outer leaves at your discretion, wash off any dirt, core and chop as finely as possible (a mini chopper is a great tool for the job as I’ve just discovered!)
  2. Add 1tbsp salt per medium to large cabbage, and squeeze, squash etc. with your hands in a large bowl. Add some caraway seeds or cumin seeds for added interest if you have any.
  3. After 10 mins or so it will become quite wet – put it into your glass jar and find an ingenious way of keeping the cabbage submerged, I put a jam jar in to squash the cabbage down (see pic). Cover loosely but if using a Kilner jar it’s best not to clamp it shut at this stage as this may inhibit the fermentation.
  4. Leave for at least 1 month but up to 6 months! Will keep after this in the fridge for up to a year.
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The Oak Tree Christmas Party!

Thanks to everyone who came along to the joint Oak Tree Farm and Ipswich Ripple Food Coop Christmas Party. It was delightfully appropriate to share our festive celebrations with Ripple (as the coop is affectionately known) as it was there that I sold the very first vegetables from The Oak Tree Farm (this is when our Community Supported Agriculture Scheme was just a twinkle in the Transition Ipswich Food Group’s eye).

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Help save a local Rushmere-St-Andrew smallholding!!!!

Message to all in Rushmere-St-Andrew and East Ipswich: If you can possibly spare half an hour on Thursday at 1pm please show your support for a neighbouring ecological small holding.

Suffolk Coastal District Council is set to take a decision on whether or not to plonk a whole load of “Executive Homes” on one of the few truly fertile and tree-covered plots of land in Rushmere-St-Andrew. It is the woody plot immediately opposite the big stone church in Rushmere (not the Baptist Church close to The Oak Tree) : please meet there just before 1pm on Thursday 11th December 2014.

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Everything we are working towards at The Oak Tree Farm has been happening on that plot  for decades. I grew up eating vegetables from the plot, and a visit to the site was a huge help when  I first set up The Oak Tree! The local community has been planting trees on the holding, trees that are the size that our trees will be in thirty years time or more – and almost all of them would be cut down to make way for housing!

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When we meet photos will be taken for the East Anglian Daily Times so we will really have a chance to show how important local ecological growing is to us all!

 

 

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Harvesting towards the end of November

I confess that yesterday morning, having seen the weather forecast of day-long rain and typical November temperatures, I wasn’t really looking forward to harvesting. But here at The Oak Tree we harvest right through the year unless the ground actually freezes solid, so off to the farm I went regardless. Actually so long as we have a bit off forewarning before the ground freezes solid, even then we prepare boxes of heeled in leeks and (briefly!) root cellared roots, Brussels sprouts on the stalk etc, for members of our Community Supported Agriculture Scheme.

But shortly after arriving at the farm yesterday, along came farm member John to help with the harvest, in a cheery mood, as always. For the thousandth time I reflected on what an extraordinary thing it is to run a farm with the help of our members, and how incredibly committed and enthusiastic those members can be. The prospect of a rather grim and lonely day was transformed into a day of shared purpose and amusing banter! Another hardy member, Adrian, joined us later in the day, and moving the cows became a lighted hearted joint adventure, rather than damp chore. Another example of the joy of being a free range human…. something I talked about when in ponderous mood three years ago here on this very blog

I take great pride in producing little bags of salad leaves at this time of year as they seem like such an unlikely crop in November.

salad

Our salad leaf current bags, included in this week’s otherwise wintery veg share box, consist of baby kale leaves (surprisingly tasty, and I don’t even particularly like kale!), multicoloured lettuce leaves, wild rocket, baby spinach leaves and baby beet leaves. They take absolutely ages to harvest. I mean hours. We don’t do them every week, and indeed a good solid frost along with darker days as we slide into December, may soon make them impossible rather than just plain laborious, but somehow is seems miraculous to produce fresh salad on an indescribably gloomy damp day.

Even with John and Adrian’s help, we were harevsting late, using the last of our night vision to gather the veg, before switching on our 12v solar charged lighting to pack the boxes.

Last night the sky was overcast, but Monday was a beautiful day, and while doing the evening check of the animals, I took this on my phone (sorry about the image quality – shame you can’t see the crescent moon properly).

sunset

 

 

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Sprout Top, Potato and Chorizo Soup

Apparently Brussells Sprout tops are very good for you, as per this article from The Guardian.

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Sprout top, potato and chorizo soup

The same article gives the recipe for this soup, which, I must say, has quickly disappeared! Very hearty and rich, perfect for a cold and rainy day.

Enjoy!

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Last week of November 2014: Veg share box

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In the veg share boxes this week:

- at least 600g slice of Crown Prince squash

- 350g carrots

- 400g parsnips

- 2 large leeks

- 350g Brussels sprouts

- 100g Swiss chard

- 70g mixed salad leaves (wild rocket, baby beet
leaves, baby kale leave, mixed lettuce leaves, baby spinach leaves)

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Green tomatoes – Preserving group day!

Well done, and many thanks, to all our wonderful preservers who did amazing work last Friday making green tomato chutney to go in to our veg share boxes during the 2015 hungry gap!

green toms

No food whatsoever is wasted at The Oak Tree! Green tomatoes make a lovely chutney, so this is a wonderful way to keep our supply of food up throughout the year as we only put vegetables grown on the farm into our veg share boxes, we don’t buy veg in when the supply gets slower in the hungry gap.

Our preserving queen Christine was mistress of ceremonies:

Preserving queen Christine!

Preserving queen Christine!

Ably assisted by many members of our Community Supported Agriculture Scheme

Janus busy chopping green tomatoes

Janus busy chopping green tomatoes

Kirsty gets stuck in!

Kirsty gets stuck in!

 

 

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A late November veg box….

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This weeks veg share box contains:

- 2 Brussels sprout tops OR 300g Brussels sprouts

- 100g Swiss chard

- a generous amount of butternut squash (or maybe a large slice of Crown Prince squash toward the end of the week)

- a large leek

- 400g parsnips

- 350g carrots

See below a list of recipes provided & tested by the oak-tree-farm members which uses one or several of the above vegetables. And please, if you do have one of your very own, please send it over! Thank You.

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Chard roulade

Running out of ideas on what to do with your mountain of chard? Here’s a quick and easy but unusual recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Plenty of chard (up to 500g ish). You may also use spinach.
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g pack of cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Optional extras:
Add garlic and different herbs to the mix for more distinctive flavours. Thyme, Oregano, Nutmeg and Cloves are all good options. Or add chives to the cream cheese.

Method:

  1. Chop or tear your chard (or spinach) and steam or boil it till just soft.
  2. Squeeze out excess water and work it a bit to make a sort of chard mush.
  3. Leave to cool down, then add salt and pepper and 2 beaten eggs.
  4. Spread the mixture on to a GREASED rectangular baking tray
  5. Bake at 180′ until it JUST starts to brown on top.
  6. Leave to cool a bit and remove from the tray onto a flat surface
  7. Spread on the cream cheese and roll up like a Swiss roll
  8. Serve sliced

Bon appetite!

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This week’s veg box

In the veg boxes this last week (check out Joanne’s size 7 boots at the bottom of the picture for scale!):

- 1 big squash or two smaller ones

- a big leek

- 350g carrots

- 400g parsnips

- 70g salad leaves

- 150 g tomatoes

- half a big white cabbage or 1/4 of a huge one

See below a list of recipes provided & tested by the oak-tree-farm members which uses one or several of the above vegetables. And please, if you do have one of your very own, please send it over! Thank You.

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