It’s time to harvest; tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsley, squash, mint are all begging to be brought inside and cooked, preserved, fermented and/or dried. Though, if you are an edible food in my garden, more likely placed directly on a plate as salad. More recipes will come on cooking from the kitchen garden. But, for now, a bit about the garden.
Our kitchen garden was designed based on some simple permaculture ideas. We are novices in this field, but we are guided by the principles of using local resources, planting edible fruits, keeping your herbs and annuals close to the house so you can tend to them, building garden beds that require little irrigation, composting EVERYTHING, planting a “food forest,” and generally establishing systems that take a while to create but are low maintenance and autonomous in the long run.
My favorite permaculture technique? Hugelkultur. Long story short, hugelkultur entails burying logs or big sticks underneath your layers of compost, leaves, mulch, soil etc. Why would you do this? Less irrigation for starters. (I watered my vegetable garden 3 times this summer, after planting). Lots of oxygen for the plant roots is another reason. Third, if your compost is like mine and comes mostly from kitchen scraps, the carbon in the wood (brown stuff) balances out all the nitrogen from your kitchen waste (green stuff). The result? We are harvesting zuchinni, basil, crookneck squash, bushels of cucumbers and lots of beans and peas; all out of a bed we hardly watered. And they taste amazing.
Let us know: what are your favorite fruits or vegetables in season right now?
Before diving into the fascinating fundamentals of yogurt-making, you may like to know why anyone would want to make their own yogurt when it is so readily available at the local health foods store/grocery store/walmart. Four reasons:
1) It’s much cheaper, especially if you buy your milk in bulk.
2) You can decide what kind of milk goes into your yogurt. Maybe you prefer hormone-free milk or maybe you are lucky enough to have a source of unpasteurized milk.
3) It’s more fresh.
4) Satisfaction. Or fun. Or maybe scientific interest.
Home-made yogurt recipe
- 2-3 liters cow’s milk* (any milk will do, as long as its not ‘ultra-pasteurized’)
- 5-6 tablespoons plain yogurt
*we are still perfecting our goat yogurt recipe. I suspect it works better with raw goat’s milk.
In a large pot, heat the milk on low, stirring occasionally until it reduces about 10%. Be careful not to burn the milk on the bottom. This takes 1-4 hours depending on what heat you use. Lower heat preserves more nutrients, higher heat is faster. If you are really anxious, you can turn the heat up and stir constantly until the milk bubbles up and then turn the heat to low and allow it to reduce.
simmer milk on low
Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool just until lukewarm (it should no longer be steaming). Add the plain yogurt (this is your cheat), stirring well until mixed. Cover the mixture.
Place somewhere draft-free with a constant temperature like your oven (turned off, of course) a closet, or just wrapped in a blanket in the corner. In about 18 hours, you will have yogurt. Leave it longer than that and you will have sour yogurt, great for doogh.
We refrigerate the yogurt a couple hours before eating, but this is just because we are used to cold dairy products. In the past, dairy was consumed at room temperature because it was always fresh.