Category Archives: New Products

Apple Cinnamon Mimosa

Celebrate the Changing of the seasons!applemimosa

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 4 sticks – 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 1 champagne bottle
  • 2 cups Big B’s apple cider or equivalent
  • 1 small red sweet apple (Honey Crisps are my favorite)

Directions:

1. Gently whisk together the cane sugar and apple pie spice on a small rimmed plate. Make sure the sugar and spice mixture is bigger in diameter than the rim of your glass. Set aside.
2. To create the sugar/spice rim, wet the rim of each glass by dipping just the rim of each glass in a shallow bowl of water or apple cider. You can also use an apple slice and rub the natural apple juices from it along the rim. Once the rim is wet, dip the glass rim in the sugar and spice mixture until the rim is fully coated. Repeat with all four glasses.
3. Just before serving, cut four thin apple slices and place one at the bottom of each glass along with a cinnamon stick. It helps to tuck the cinnamon stick under the apple slice so it doesn’t float to the top once you pour the liquid in the glass.
4. Pour the champagne until bubbles have settled and the glass is half way full. Next, pour the apple cider until the glass is full. Enjoy immediately.

This recipe is courtesy of Frontier COOP

 

The Art of Fermentation in Crocks

Sauerkraut-1

With Fall around the corner,  it is time to join the growing trend and start fermenting garden produce for the winter ahead.  IF you are reluctant to try fermentation, just know there are no documented case of dangerous botulism ever occurring in fermented foods.  Sally Fallon Morrel, author of Nourishing Traditions and founder of the Weston A Price foundation,   remarks, “Let your nose be your guide.”  and I have found this is trustworthy counsel.

Fermentation is the transformative action of microorganisms that are all around us.  Lacto-Fermentation (a more accurate term) is the time-tested process our ancestors used to produce lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits the bacteria which want to putrefy foods so lacto acid produced during the fermentation process naturally extends the useful, edible life of foods.  We will also discuss the nutritional benefits below.

veggies2Vegetables that can be fermented include cabbage, zucchini, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, beets, turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower and much more just for a start!

By learning to encourage the proliferation of beneficial lactic-acid producing bacteria you are on the road to preserving food inexpensively, healthfully, and for extended periods of time.  There will be no need for water bath or pressure canning with this method.

There are many nutritional benefits to fermenting vegetables

  • Fermented foods are powerful aids to digestion.
  • The microbes begin to break down the food before it enters our digestive tracts.
  • Fermentation breaks down compound nutrients that are known to be hard to digest such as lactose, and gluten.
  • Beneficial for gut troubles.
  • Fermentation produces additional nutrients and enhances the ones already in the foods.
  • Helps to build up higher levels of B vitamins during digestion.
  • Lactobacilli create Omega-3 fatty acids essential for cell membrane and immune system functions.
  • The naturally occuring microbes are often better than high quality commercial digestive enzymes.
  • Fermentation will increase cancer fighting compounds found in cabbage and other brassicas

To ferment foods you can use Ball type canning jars with rings and lids which are ideal for small batches, or  Crocks for larger batches.  A fermentation crock is a stoneware pot designed to hold cabbage and/or other vegetables as they ferment.

Open Crocks and Water-Sealed Crocks.

The two primary types of ceramic crocks for fermentation available are Open Crocks and Water-Sealed Crocks.  Both have advantages and disadvantages to consider.  Generally speaking fermenting crocks have thicker stoneware walls which creates a more stable fermentation temperature, resulting in sauerkraut and fermented veggies with a greater depth of flavor.

opencrocksAdvantages of an Open Crock

  • Generally, less expensive than a water-sealed crock and readily available.
  • Open top and straight walls make it easy to clean.
  • Easy to fit whole or large vegetables into.

 

 

Disadvantages of an Open Crock

  • Ferment prone to developing surface mold and/or Kahm yeast (a harmless yeast that appears when a ferment is exposed to air).  This surface mold can be removed and discarded.
  • Older crocks may contain glazes unsafe for food use, especially crocks from Mexico.
  • Weights and lids often need to be purchased separately and can dramatically raise the cost of the crock.
  • If a cloth is used to cover your ferment, it’s prone to wicking brine onto the floor.

    Water-Sealed Crock

Watersealedcrocks

Water-sealed crocks are a bit more difficult to find.  After a water-sealed crock is packed, two half-circle weights are placed into the crock to keep your ferment submerged. Then, the lid is placed into an open moat which is then filled with water. No outside air is able to enter the crock and carbon dioxide gases produced during fermentation can easily escape or bubble-out.

Advantages of a Water-Sealed Crock

  • Makes for a very easy, almost care-free fermentation experience (You have to keep the moat filled with water.).
  • Neither flies nor fruit flies can get into the crock and lay eggs.
  • Very little chance of mold or surface yeasts growing on your ferment.
  • Takes the guesswork out of making sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables.

Disadvantages of a Water-Sealed Crock

  • The water in the moat must be monitored and filled as necessary. If not, the seal will be broken and air will be allowed to flow into the crock.
  • Narrower opening makes it more difficult to pack your ferment.
  • Shape at the top of the crock, where the lid is, can make it difficult to clean.
  • Sealed environment makes it hard to monitor what is going on inside.
  • Generally, more expensive than an open crock.

In general, the use of metal and plastic containers is discouraged for obvious reasons.

More Information and reliable recipes about fermentation. 

Maria Hodkins, is a local Certified Nutritional Therapist and Fermentation Expert.  She will be teaching an upcoming class on Fermenting Vegetables.  To receive information about Maria’s upcoming classes, please email her at realbutterandlove@gmail.com.

Idiot#2The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermentation By Wardeh Harmon

Maria says this book is loaded with easy recipes many of which are her favorites.

 

 

 

_artoffermentationThe Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz Foreward by Michael Pollan

His book is widely considered the Bible of Fermentation.  For the serious fermenter, this last book is an in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world with practical information on fermenting vegetables, fruits, grains, milk, beans, meats, and much more.  Or you may watch a short Youtube video to familiarize yourself.

Successful Seed Starting


Starting seeds indoors can be a fun and simple process and a great way to inspire children  to get involved in gardening.  Manage the variables of temperature, water, soil, seeds, and light for optimum success with some tips and helpful products.

Botanical Interests Seeds are in stock now!

Botanical Interests Seeds are in stock now!

SEED BASICS

A seed is the embryo of a plant. It is “naturally” enclosed in a protective coat.

Seeds respond to water, light (or absence of light), and temperature. Making good choices for soil and containers will help you grow a strong plant, which will thrive in your garden (inside or out), stay healthy and be productive.

We at Paonia Farm and Home offer Botanical Interests seeds, seed starting containers, high quality seed starting soils, artificial light sources designed to grow healthy rather than spindly plants, and other accessories to make your gardening efforts successful and satisfying.
Sproutkit

A Mini Seed Starting Greenhouse

A Mini Seed Starting Greenhouse

CONTAINERS

You will find all kinds of sizes and shapes of ready-made seed-starting supplies in our store.

However, many ordinary household containers and disposables  can be re-purposed as a seed-starting container.

Containers should be clean.  Re-purposed containers must be sanitized to remove any possible pathogens. Soaking them in a 1:9 bleach:water solution offers one option.

Good drainage is essential to making the container effective.  The container of choice must have a way for excess water to drain away.

Seeds come in many different sizes and shapes

Also, If you will transplant your seedlings as single plants at a distance from each  other plant, then individual pots or divided trays will be the optimum choice. If you will plant your seedlings in clumps or close groupings, then a broad or wide, shallow container could also be suitable.

Other consideration in container choices will be the  seed size, the length of time from planting to transplanting, and the size of the resulting seedling.  Large seeds like beans or squash plants and quick-growing plants (i.e. tomatoes, lettuce, pumpkin) all denote the need for a larger initial container.

SOIL

FoxFarmLight Warrior Seed Starter

FoxFarm Light Warrior Seed Starter

Use a high quality seed-starting mix such as FoxFarm, Light Warrior Seed Starting soil. Generally “you get what you pay for,” so don’t sacrifice quality. Outdoor soil ofter harbors microorganisms and pathogens that, when taken out of the balance of nature, can harm or kill your seeds.  Another choice would be to use high quality potting soil which promotes a moist, not soggy, environment with the ideal mix of air and water to promote germination.

LIGHT

Light is one of the most important factors to creating a healthy, strong seedling. Some seeds get the signal to germinate from light. Other seeds, usually larger ones, can have their germination inhibited by exposure to light. Your Botanical Interests seed packet will have any special seed sowing instructions you need to consider.

This improvised light fixture is adjustable as plants grow

This improvised light fixture is adjustable as plants grow

Sufficiently intense light of the right duration will make a shorter, stronger seedling rather than a taller more spindly plant. A light set-up can be as simple as four fluorescent tubes, two cool and two warm spectrum, hung no more than three inches from the top of your seedlings. A timer will help you consistently deliver 14 hours or more of light per day.

TEMPERATURE

Generally, normal household temperatures are within the ideal range that encourages germination.  You can increase germination percentage and speed by gently applying heat to your soil by placing trays and pots near a heat vent, radiator, or other heat source or you can purchase a heat mat at the store designed to promote healthy seed germination and growth.

WATER

Since plants primarily consist of water,  water application becomes another essential factor in determining the overall health of your seedlings. Water signals to the seed that it is time to come out of dormancy, germinate, and grow.  Young plants are fragile so consistent moisture is vital. Hence seed starting success depends on you to create and maintain the right amount of moisture by watering gently and thoroughly.

Moisten the soil before sowing, especially for the tinier seeds and  maintain consistent moisture after the first watering, but never to the point of soggy soil. Soggy, saturated soil can create conditions that will rot your seeds before they germinate.  Some gardeners cover seed containers with plastic wrap, removing it after seedlings emerge. Sown seeds allowed to dry out may die.

GET STARTED NOW

The back and inside of the BOTANICAL INTEREST or other brand seed packets contain all the rest of the information you need to you plan your garden and start your seeds. Determine if the seed(s) you’ve chosen should be started indoors, and if so, when. By following the guidelines above and the seed starting chart you will be able to create a schedule for when to start your indoor seeds.  Visit the store for best selection of Botanical Interests seeds and all the information you need to get started today!

Stella Natura – 2016 Biodynamic Calendar

2016 Calendar is in stock now.

2016 Calendar guide will guide and inspire

This Calendar has many aspects: a basic introduction to astronomy, a simple ephemeris, a planting guide, a star map, aid for following the movement of the planets in the night sky, and articles by nine different authors. All of these attempt to provide a true picture of the world outside us and ideas to assist in developing a healthy relation to that world.

Author Sherry says, “This calendar is dedicated to supporting a healthy approach to agriculture and to life. It does so by widening our perspective to include the movements of the moon and planets through the constellations and explaining how to time seed sowing, cultivation, and harvesting to enhance the quality of your crops.

“It does so also through monthly articles that develop ideas necessary for a new view of our relation to the land – as stewards, growers, eaters, and shoppers. Several stories turn to the gifts we are offered through the animals; you will be heartened and enlightened by following the progress of biodynamics in India; and the theme of bread is continued. “You will be led to appreciate the joys of wild nature through Thoreau’s essay on “Wild Apples,” and to explore the inner dynamics of life and death in the composting process, where we must seek the balance between neglect and over-manipulation.

“As I send this thirty-ninth issue of Stella Natura into the world I feel as strongly as ever how important each person is in creating a healthy future for our earth. We each need to take into consideration the laws inherent in nature when making decisions that will impact the natural world.”

In Stock NOW at Paonia Farm and Home Supply.  9″ x 12″ wall calendar~Beautifully illustrated
40 pages, 4-color cover~$14.95 retail.

Get Your Yard Ready For Migratory Birds

Feeding wild brids all winter can be extremely gratifying.

Feeding wild birds all winter can be extremely gratifying.

With fall in full swing and winter on the way here are some useful tips to make sure our feathery friends make a stop in your backyard throughout the season.

1. Clean your bird feeder
Get your feeders ready for fall and winter by cleaning them up. Start by emptying the feeder. In a bucket,  combine 10 parts water to one part bleach if you wish to use a safe disinfecting solution. Using an old rag, wash and rinse the bird feeder thoroughly.  Air dry the feeder or dry it with a towel if you are in a hurry.

bird seed 2. Choose a bird feed that is high in protein and fat and stock up.
With temperatures dropping birds begin to grow in winter feathers and start storing energy for the cold weather. Try using black oil sunflower seed as your basic go-to bird seed stock.   If you are more ambitious,  you can use a mix of 60% black oil sunflower seed, some roasted no-shell peanuts, a bit of safflower and some white millet. Bird seed mixes may attract a wider variety of migratory birds.

3. Don’t deadhead your garden
Leave your flowers blooming, it’s less work for you and the birds will love eating the fresh supply of food. The wilder your garden the more lively an ecosystem.

bidsinclippings 4. Save your pruning clippings
If you have some pruning to take care of in your garden, be sure to save all the clippings in a pile. A clippings pile will provide a perfect safe spot for smaller birds to fly into and hide.

birdbath 5. Use a heated birdbath
Finding fresh water in the winter is incredibly difficult for birds, and your birdbath will be a great source! Along with using a heated birdbath it’s important to change the water regularly.