Prune those Branches
Monday, February 07, 2011
FRUIT TREE WORKSHOP: WINTER PRUNING
Saturday, March 5th, 1-3pm
@ Grumblethorpe Historic House & Museum
5267 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia
Many Philadelphians grow their own fruit trees, and you could, too! But one of the basics of fruit tree ownership and maintenance is pruning. Find out everything you need to know to keep your fruit trees healthy and productive at this low-cost workshops.
This introductory workshop will cover the basics of fruit tree pruning, with hands-on demonstration on some of the existing trees at historic Grumblethorpe. Workshop leader Phil Forsyth is the Orchard Director of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, a non-profit that plants orchards in partnership with community groups across the city. Forsyth also operates an edible and ecological landscaping business (forsythgardens.com) and writes about urban food growing at phigblog.com.
$ 10 per person
There are 25 seats available, and you must register and pay before the class. To register, visit http://www.philalandmarks.org/calendar.aspx to sign-up through PayPal.
* If the class is canceled due to the weather, there is a rain/snow date scheduled for Sunday, March 6th @ 1pm.
John and Kira’s launches seasonal chocolates
Friday, October 22, 2010
For the last few years, local sweets darlings, John and Kira (Baker-)Doyle, have been producing artisinal quality chocolates from their kitchen in the Northeast using Philadelphia ingredients ( I love the garden mint from Drew Elementary and UCity High School). Now they’ve sweetened the deal by adding seasonal specialties. This fall’s line features spiced pumpkins filled with pumpkin pie caramel and spices, chocolate cherries and rosemary bergamont and mint “urban garden” chocolate bars. you can find John and Kira’s at local farmers markets, the Reading Terminal Market’s Fair Food Farmstand, or order direct from their site at http://www.johnandkiras.com.
Get Your CSA Today
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There is still time to join a CSA for the summer! Deliveries for most begin in just a few weeks, so now’s the time to stop procrastinating and start participating. CSA’s ask you to pay in advance for your produce deliveries so that farms are able to invest in their crops for the season. All you have to do is pick up your share once a week and enjoy all the exciting, local Delaware Valley produce! Some CSAs with Philadelphia delivery (to a park, farmers market, or neighborhood location) that still have openings:
Just Fruit Shares:
North Star Orchard
If you missed your favorite farm, put yourself on the waitlist and a spot may open.
It’s Not Too Late to go to the Orchard!
Monday, November 02, 2009
If’ you thought that you missed orchard season - you’re wrong! While most local orchards have ended their U-Pick apple season, you can still purchase apples, pumpkins, squash, decorative cabbages, mums, and more. This weekend I made a trip to Linvilla Orchards (in Media, PA) and was surprised at both the selection - so many different apples I lost count, cider, cider donuts, plants, gourds galore! A great trip for a sunny Fall afternoon, you can still stock up on Fall’s bounty (and enjoy a hay ride) before Thanksgiving.
More photos to follow!
Gold Rush Apple Time!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
These wonderful apples, possibly the perfect apple, are available for a short period of time from North Star Orchard. To buy them in bulk or to reserve the delicious cider from these apples, there’s a form on their website. You might think that this is overkill, but Gold Rush apple lovers are serious. To see all the hard to find varieties of apples and asian pears (another North Star specialty), visit one of their farmers market locations. If I sound like a commercial, it’s just that their fruit is so good and Ike and Lisa are really nifty people. Check it out.
Pick a winner
Friday, June 20, 2008
Earlier in the week I had the day off from work and nothing very exciting to do, so I headed over to Linvilla for some raspberry picking. The picking was…not great. The guy at the Pick Your Own stand said they had gotten picked over pretty quickly, but if I was willing to put in the time and search deep into the briars, I might be able to get a good haul. In the end, I walked away with half a flat of raspberries (and scratched arms)...but it took forever to find them.
Raspberry picking closed a few days after that for ripening.
Today Linvilla opened their yellow cherry trees for picking, but they expect to be picked out today, as well. Blueberries opened today, as well - and I’ll probably try to get over there early Sunday morning for that. I could eat blueberries until I turn into one, I love them so much.
Raspberries will reopen tomorrow, and strawberry picking is still going on (and is, apparently, excellent).
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
From all of us at Farm to Philly to all of you: Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice….whatever holiday you celebrate this week, we wish you an excellent holiday season. And if you don’t celebrate anything at all, happy Tuesday!
I refer to my own holiday this week as Chriskwanzakah, a secular holiday that demands a tree with lights, a gift exchange, feats of strength, and celebrating the return of the light. Yep, I get to horn in on all the good stuff! This week the Fair Food Farmstand had a Chriskwanzkah gift for all of us: citrus.
Don’t get your hopes up - this is not locally grown citrus. While we do have an abundance of greenhouses in the area, I’m not sure such a thing actually exists! But this citrus really is the next best thing. The Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-op, which is based in Hustontown, PA, makes organic citrus from family farms in Florida available to local sellers. I’m sure there are other places these babies are available in the area, the Fair Food Farmstand is carrying navel oranges, Cara Caras, Hamlin Juice oranges, Nova Tangelos, and red seedless grapefruits. I tried a Tangelo during my volunteer shift at the Farmstand this past Saturday - they’re outstanding!
At this time of year when a lot of us start craving citrus, this is as close to ‘no guilt’ as it gets. If you can’t support a local citrus farmer here, at least we can support a small grower on the East Coast.
Happy Chriskwanzakah to us all!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
We made a Morgantown run yesterday and came back with this bounty of local produce. Our first stop was Weaver’s Orchard. I found this farm on localharvest.org and, since it is located close to Shady Maple Farm Market where we planned to stock up on some (alas, non-local) dried pasta and nuts, we were excited to check them out. If you love apples, this place is worth the trip. There’s a great selection of homegrown apples of all types, plus ciders, pears, jams, honey and a bunch of other produce (like the garlic, potatoes and brussel sprouts we got). We also bought various types of apples, Seckel pears, Asian pears and some Harrow’s Delight pears on the recommendation of the farmer. I grabbed a pick-your-own schedule because I’ll definitely be returning.
Then it was off to the zoo that is Shady Maple. This is a really big conventional grocery store that also sells a lot of bulk foods, like the pasta and nuts we were after, and a pretty good selection of Lancaster-grown produce. We bought a half-bushel of Jonamac apples for applesauce – lots and lots of applesauce to freeze.
We were almost ready to leave when I saw a bin advertising enormous, Lancaster-grown Fairytale pumpkins. At $3.99 for any size pumpkin, I chose the biggest, heaviest pumpkin I could get my hands on! Mind you, I’m not the one cooking the pumpkin pies this year for Thanksgiving so I have no immediate need for a pumpkin, let alone one that our cashier couldn’t lift. But how could I pass them up? I’ve heard that this variety is good for baking and so far it hasn’t disappointed. I’ve been baking big pieces of it in batches all day and pureeing them for the freezer. So far I have about 16 cups of puree and I’m just about halfway done with the job. I’m thinking pumpkin bread, maybe some soups and Jennie’s pumpkin roll. Any other ideas?
Cider! + A Roasted Tomato Sauce
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Yesterday, I picked up 2 half-gallons of Gold Rush Cider from North Star Orchard at the Rittenhouse Farmers Market.
I bought also some very nice cauliflower—they sell by the pound, not the head, so those of us who are cooking for one can buy a small head. I like that.
And, I bought the last of the tomatoes from another vendor at the market. I have been making delicious sauce to freeze from a recipe in Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells. Here’s what you do:
1. Heat oven to 425.
2. Wash and core tomatoes.
3. Halve them. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Place them cut side up in a baking roasting pan for 45-60 mins. (I put parchment paper in the bottom to keep the juices from welding the tomatoes to the pan.)
5. Cool a little, then puree to desired consistency. You’ll find that it’s a wonderful, slightly sweet very tomoto-ey sauce. Add milk, and I think it will make a terrific tomato soup.
Note: you don’t need to peel or seed them, nor do you need to use oil in the pan.
Get Asian pears now!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
North Star Orchard is in the midst of an Asian pear boom! If you love Asian pears, now is the time to seek out at the Orchard’s various market locations - Clark Park, Rittenhouse Square, and Headhouse in Philadelphia, and a bunch of other suburban locations.
North Star is currently producing the following varieties of Asian pear: Hosui, Yoinashi, and Olympic. The Hosui is slightly acidic but mild with a crisp, juicy, off-white flesh. The Yoinashi has the highest sugar content of all Asian pears and is extremely juicy with a lovely butterscotch flavor. The Olympic has an outstanding storage life and flavor actually improves with storage. They’re sweet with an earthy flavor.
And don’t miss out on North Star’s apple harvest! You can find Florina, Golden Russet, Stellar, and Sugar Snap apples at market.
North Star Orchard is located in Coatesville, PA.
Linvilla Orchards - raspberries!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
The Linvilla website reported this morning that raspberry picking was “excellent”. The guys working the Pick-Your-Own stand were less enthusiastic. “These raspberries are pretty picked out. Jump on the back of the tractor and we’ll take you up to a patch hidden next to the apples,” they advised.
Of course, the man driving the tractor had yet another opinion. According to him, it was the last couple of rows of the regular raspberry patch that we wanted. “No one ever looks there!” he declared.
Happily, the tractor man was right. The husband and I picked four quarts of gorgeous raspberries this morning. And we amazed the guys working the stand in the bargain. “We haven’t seen that many raspberries come out of there in at least a month,” they said. Never underestimate the picking power of two determined people with a yen for raspberries!
One of these quarts will be frozen for a nice snack mid-Winter, but three of those quarts are now raspberry jam. And, in a nod to the September Eat Local challenge, I used a new canning method. Well, new to me, at least. Short cuts tend to make me a little nervous, but the idea of skipping the water bath and simply sealing cans by inverting them was too irresistible.
All my jars of raspberry jam have sealed correctly (I heard the “ping”!), so it seems to have worked. It took such a small amount of work that I think this would be an ideal first foray into canning for the novice.
Here’s how to do it and what you’ll need:
3 lbs. raspberries
5 cups sugar
3 oz. liquid pectin
a mess of small canning jars
OK, start with your canning jars. Separate the lids from the jars and put everything in the dishwasher. Set your dishwasher to its hottest setting and put them through a cycle. Alternatively, you can give your jars a wash in hot, soapy water and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven, and placing lids in a bowl of boiling water. The point is that you need your jars to be hot when you start packing in the jam.
Place raspberries in a sink full of cold water. Swish your hands around in there a few times and make sure all the stems and assorted stuff is removed. Lift the berries out of the water gently and drain.
Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor for about 15 seconds.
Put the berries in a large saucepan with the sugar and bring to very full boil and be sure you stir constantly. Add the pectin and return to a full boil. Boil hard for one minute and keep stirring!
Remove the pan from heat and skim off the foam that’s floating on the top. Immediately ladle the jam into the hot jars (you should leave about 1/8 of an inch of headspace). Wipe off any jam that gets on the threads of the jar and screw on the lids tightly. Turn the jars over so they’re resting on the lid for about five minutes.
Turn the jars upright and be sure to test the lids to make sure they sealed within one hour. There you have it: homemade raspberry jam!
And if you have a jar or two that doesn’t seal, you can always put it through a water bath for five minutes. This made five half pints and two pints of raspberry jam.
Coincidentally, if you want to try to make jam minus the pectin, I found a recipe here.
Pick your own
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Linvilla Orchards - pick Summer apples now!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Linvilla Orchards is one of the areas best known ‘pick your own’ farms, not far from Center City and only about 15-20 minutes from my house in Delaware County. The 300 acre farm grows an impressive array of fruit - six varieties of strawberries, six varieties of raspberries, seven varieties of blueberries, blackberries, 34 varieties of peaches, 30 varieties of apples, five varieties of grapes, four varieties of pears, plus apricots, nectarines, and plums. Oh, and vegetables - tomatoes, eggplant, corn, and peppers. Oh, and you can pick your own pumpkins and holiday trees. Let’s not forget the lake stocked with trout for fishing! Truly, the place has everything…even hayrides to deliver you to the appropriate field!
Right now, apples and peaches are in excellent picking, as are the grapes and all the vegetables. The Mister and I ran over there today to sample the Summer apples - Paula Red and Ginger Gold.
The Paula Red is the lovely little apple on the right in the photo. It’s known as an excellent apple for making applesauce - it needs no sugar at all. The apple is crisp with a slightly tart flavor - it’s just delicious! Now is the perfect time to pick up some Paula Red. These Macintosh-type apples seem to be at their peak right now. I could not resist chowing down on one right there in the orchard! A word of warning - don’t use this for pies. When cooked, this apple gets extremely mushy…which is why it’s so excellent for applesauce!
The Ginger Gold is a new-ish apple variety discovered in Virginia in 1969. It is my absolute favorite Summer apple - it has the taste of a Fall apple. It’s juicy and mildly tart, with the added benefit that it resists browning when cut. You can do anything with it - pies, applesauce, salads, although it’s classified as a dessert apple. I love to eat them plain and fresh, or sliced with blue cheese.
After apple picking, we meandered over to the peach grove. The peaches are fantastic right now, although we found many more yellow peaches than white. The blueberries were very picked out - we only managed to pick a handful of blueberries.
The grapes were amazing and no one was picking them! Early Concords are in season right now. Concords are a slip-skin variety. I’m still deciding what to do with these - I have about four cups of grapes or so, so if you have suggestions, please pass them on. I’m thinking some sort of dessert.
The next event coming up at Linvilla is August 25 - the tomato festival!
137 W. Knowlton Road
Media, PA 19063