Hedgerow Harvest

3 Sep 2018 | 0 comments

Autumn has a spectacular abundance of produce; branches bend under the weight of apples, pears and plums, the fields are bursting with pumpkin, corn, kale, beans, beets, chard and garlic, and the hedges are heavy with jewel-like fruits such as elderberries, blackberries, rosehips and haws.

All these foods are full of health boosting benefits. Dry, freeze, bottle or ferment; there are a myriad of ways to preserve the harvest and reap the benefits during the winter months.

Here are a few of my favourites to make and store for the winter, plus an autumn pudding to enjoy now.

AUTUMN PUDDING

An autumn twist on a summer classic.

1 large head of elderberries
225g blackberries
2 quinces
110g damsons
225g mulberries or raspberries
125g rapadura sugar
8 medium slices spelt bread
1 x 1.2 litres pudding basin

Peel and core the quince, then cut into small pieces and put into a pan with the sugar and about 4 fl oz water. Gently cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Cook the damsons in a little water until soft and mushy. Sieve to remove the stones.
Strip the elderberries from their stalk. Add the damson puree, the elderberries, blackberries and mulberries or raspberries to the cooked quince.
Cover the fruit and bring to the boil and cook gently for 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
Remove 1 mug of the liquid. Cut a circle from one of the slices of bread and line the base of the pudding basin, then line the sides of the pudding basin with strips of bread leaving enough bread to make a circle for the top. Set the top bread circle on one side. Tip the fruit into the lined basin and cover with the reserved bread. Pour over the reserved mug of juice so that the bread is completely soaked in juice. Put a plate that will fit inside the basin’s rim on the pudding and weight it down with anything heavy - kitchen weights or a jar filled with water. Put the basin on a plate to catch any over flowing juice and leave overnight in the fridge.
To serve, remove the weight and plate, gently run a palette knife between the bread and basin and unmould the pudding onto a plate. Pour over any juice that over flowed onto the plate and serve.
 

SPICED SLOE GIN

A warming drink for the dark winter months.

450g sloes
100g rapadura sugar
1⁄2 cinnamon stick
twist of lemon peel
1 x Jalapeno or Aleppo chilli
1 litre gin

Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put them into a large sterilised jar – kilner jars work well. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon peel and chilli, then pour over the gin. Seal tightly and shake well.
Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week, then shake once a week for at least two months.
Strain the sloe gin through muslin then pour into a sterilised bottle.

 

FERMENTED GARLIC

Fantastic winter fare, great for the immune system & simplicity itself – make as much or as little as you want.

Peeled garlic
Brine (ratio 500ml chlorine free water to 1 tablespoon sea salt)
Oregano or rosemary

Place the herbs in a wide mouthed jar. Fill the jar within 1 inch of the top with garlic cloves.
Pour brine over the garlic cloves. Place a weight on top of the garlic to keep it submerged and cover loosely with muslin.
Allow to ferment for 3 to 4 weeks. Keeping your cloves submerged is essential! If the brine becomes low, add a touch more.
Fix a lid and move to a cool place to store.
 

BLACKBERRY & HORSERADISH SYRUP

An excellent cough syrup neat or as a soothing drink when added to hot water.

450g blackberries
150ml water
1 dessertspoon grated horseradish
Honey

Simmer the blackberries in the water until mushy. Sieve out the pips. Return to the pan with the horseradish and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the honey and pour into sterilised bottles. Store in the fridge.


Daphne Lambert is an award winning chef, author and founding member and CEO of food education charity, the Greencuisine Trust. She is an expert in the field of health and nutrition and runs our seasonal Living Nutrition retreats, unfolding the relationship between land, food, health and vitality. 

 

Trill Livestock in the Autumn

3 Sep 2018 | 0 comments

It’s the time of year when we are busy selling this year’s crop of lambs. They are born in April, and will be ready to go to the butcher when they reach about 42kg in weight. The best of them will hit this weight in July, the majority will in September and October, and all but a few runts should have got there before Christmas in a good year.

You may have heard in the news that this has not been a good year for farmers... We galloped from an extended winter with the “beast from the east” in March, to a drought by May with the hottest and driest weather recorded in my lifetime this summer. To top this we have been shut down with TB since January which caused major problems with us not being able to move our yearling cattle to their summer grazing.

In order to minimise the problems of overstocking that would have resulted at Trill, I took the decision to move most of the ewes (about 180) to another piece of land that I rent at Turnworth in Dorset. They lambed here and did remarkably well during lambing, however I did not plan for the plague of ticks they would encounter at Turnworth, which hit them before the lambs were strong enough to be gathered and treated for the problem. By the time the lambs were 3 weeks old and I was able to round them up without doing more harm than good, the damage had been done, with many of the youngsters suffering from “tick fever”, an infection of the joints that is spread by ticks. Although most of the lambs survived and now look well, they are certainly not as well grown as they should be and it is likely that a good proportion of the lambs will not make the grade before Christmas and will have to be sold in the spring as “hoggets”.

Back to the cattle and during the winter we took the very difficult decision to stop keeping cattle at Trill; we are still not clear of the TB problem (with 4 reactors at the last TB test) which is making our options for selling them very limited. It is likely that a large proportion of the herd will now be sold straight to the abattoir, although we are still hopeful that we will manage to get our favourite cows through a TB test successfully in order that they may go on to live out their days on another farm. When farming is going well it’s the best job in the world, but to be honest it’s been the most challenging year I have had to deal with so far in my career. However, we still look to 2019 with enthusiasm, determined to get things back on track.

Jake runs his cattle and sheep at Trill to manage and support our wildflower meadows. Through his business, Wessex Conservation Grazing, he also keeps herds on National Trust land. Mariel and Romy are very grateful for his and Neil’s support caring for our small flock of Gotland sheep too!

In the Veg Garden

3 Sep 2018 | 0 comments

After the worst start to the year that we have had in our 9 seasons at Trill, it has turned out to be the best year so far, with bumper harvests of many crops. There are always some crops that fare better than others, but this year the majority of crops have done well. The demand for salad has been particularly high, and whilst stories in the news told of supermarkets importing salad from the US we were not having a problem with growing it here in East Devon.

We have been harvesting over 150kg of salad each week through the summer holidays, with our record pick of 68kg in one day, and since the beginning of the year have harvested over 2.5 tonnes in total. Our tomato harvests have been great this year too, with our biggest ever harvest of 70kg in one day and averaging about 150kg each week in the summer holidays. Rita, our trainee has been looking after the tomatoes this year, and we think that the combination of extra attention with sideshooting and training, along with the misting for improved pollination has meant that a lot of the flowers set, and much of the energy went into the fruit, leading to much higher yields than usual. Of course the copious amounts of sun have helped to ripen all of that fruit too.

Other bounteous crops include the french and runner beans, and we have been picking around 60kg of french beans each week. Whilst we have harvested over 500kg of courgettes, we have also sold 1300 of the flowers. We harvested over 2000 bunches of spring onions, a quarter of which were picked in August. This is the case for the majority of our produce; with around a quarter of our earnings coming from August, it is an extremely intense month of harvesting. It is also a sort of second Spring in terms of planting and we have planted about 3000 chicory along with lots of other veg after clearing earlier crops of shallots, lettuce, broad beans and peas.

We have sown about half a million seed so far this year, but we have also harvested a huge amount for ourselves and for the Real Seed Catalogue. We are growing parsnips for Real Seeds and have harvested somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million seed, along with half a million chard seed for them.

So, overall after an awful start which led us to “write off” the year (at the end of April), somehow things turned around as soon as it stopped raining in May, and we eventually caught up. We are lucky enough to have a good setup including a borehole, so that during the dry summer we could irrigate when necessary, which has meant that our summer salad has not bolted too quickly and new plantings didn’t frazzle in the heat (our maximum temperature in one of the polytunnels reached 59.1°C!). It has been a good lesson in not giving up in times of adversity, but has also shown us how reliant on the weather we are to produce food, and on marginal vegetable growing land like that at Trill it will never be simple.

Ash and Kate have created a vegetable growing enterprise, Trill Farm Garden at Trill Farm, supplying the Old Dairy Kitchen as well as neighbouring restaurants with fresh, seasonal, varied produce.

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