Coffee, pineapple, missile warning, medicinal herbs … missile warning??!!!

What a crazy weekend this turned out to be.  For those not from here, the national news minimally covered the missile scare in Hawaii.  So to quickly summarize, on Saturday at 8:07 a.m. we (we being people in Hawaii who have cells phones) received a warning text to our phones stating that there was an incoming missile, take shelter, this was not a test.  The warnings subsequently came on the radio and on the television.  Hawaii has been preparing for such an event for months.  We get updates at work, and there is information in our newspapers regarding how we should prepare in the event this occurs.  Our sirens have been changed to include a new sound to indicate a missile strike. We’ve also been informed it would take 12 -15 minutes for a missile to strike us once launched.  To be clear it is a nuclear missile from North Korea that we are preparing for.  When that message came blaring across our phones, there was no reason to doubt it.  29 minutes later I got a text saying that there was no missile, it was a false alarm.  Talk about scary?!  I really cannot verbalize adequately those 29 minutes, but it was bad.  I had a lot of things planned for this past weekend, but the rest of Saturday was spent decompressing, and accessing my life.  Seriously, it was a life contemplating experience.  I’m still a little shaken, and the family members I was able to reach during that period were left shaken as well.

Homework!

So Saturday afternoon after I felt a little better, I decided it was time to get to work on my medicinal herb garden. My daughter and I had recently visited the used book store in Kona and I bought some books on the topic.  I also have a few books on Hawaii medicinal herbs.  I went on-line to Baker Creek Seeds, a really good source of organic products, and purchased a number of seeds to start this garden.  I took my hubby out, and showed him the spot I wanted to utilize for this purpose.  He’s all in.  I’m going to need some help with fencing, but hopefully I can do most of the planting myself.

This is the spot (the before)

It’s right next to the piece of property my husband is preparing for more pineapple.  I’ll start the seeds in containers first.  I’m going to carefully document what I’m growing and what they are utilized for.  I haven’t quite decided how to organize the garden.  I’ll probably have a native section of just Hawaiian medicinals, but I’m thinking about organizing them in sections according to health, i.e., skin issues, stomach issues, etc.  We’ll see; I need to do a little research and get some inspiration in order to make this a really special spot.  I also need to research the Hawaii medicinals better, and find a resource for those plants.  I’m very excited about this area.

In addition to the medicinals, we’re starting a whole new section dedicated to just white pineapple.

The new pineapple patch

If you’ve never had white pineapple, you’re missing a special treat.  You know how sometimes when you eat pineapple, it kind of burns your tongue a bit. The reason is does this is because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein.  I know this sounds bad, but it actually dissolves protein, so it’s literally eating at your tongue.  Your tongue produces new cells so quickly, that feeling goes away very fast once you stop eating the pineapple. White pineapple doesn’t do this.  I tried to find out why, and couldn’t locate any information.  But my guess is that it contains less bromelain.  Also known as sugar loaf, these pineapples are just the sweetest. It’s the only kind of pineapple we grow on our property.  In addition to just eating them fresh or putting them in smoothies, we also dry them and make a  liqueur with the fruit.  My husband prepared the land today, and soon we’ll be planting the slips.  It takes about 1 1/2  years for us to get pineapples off the slips.  Slips come out of the bottom of the pineapple after it’s done growing.   Some people grow pineapple straight from the tops.  There is debate about what makes a better pineapple.  The tops take longer to grow, about 2 years.  We’ve found that tops produce smaller inferior tasting pineapples.  Others will argue the opposite.  But on our property, the best pineapple come from the slips. We have a few patches of pineapples already and get a nice yield, but we love them so much we wanted more.  It’s also one of the crops we sell.

Today, I picked the last of this yield of coffee.  We do have some new flowers and beans on some of the trees, so we’re not completely done.  It’ll be awhile before those are ready to pick, so for about a month or so, we have a reprieve from picking coffee!!! Yeah!!

Otis swimming with ducks

It’s been a warm few days, so we’ve enjoyed the pool.  We have no idea why, but recently the ducks have been coming up to swim.  UGH!! They’ve got 5 ponds they can swim in down in the garden, and they come up to use ours???  Otis was NO help at all.  On one level we’re glad he’s not chasing/killing ducks, but swimming with them?  Otis, help us out buddy.

Holidays are over, guests are gone, and our daughter is back in school on the mainland.  Things are quieter, but still busy, just a different kind of busy.  Farm busy.

 

 

 

Advertisements

It’s a New Year!!

I am so looking forward to this New Year.  It’s not like I can’t recommit to goals previously set and start anew at any point in the year, but there is something about the first of the year that helps motivate me.  This past year, I’ve grown in my appreciation for all we do on our little homestead, and I’m inspired to do even more in the upcoming year.

A friend of mine recently repainted their home, redid their porch and railings, and planted new plants around their entrance.  Their home looks so beautiful and cozy.  So that is one of my goals, to spruce up the place a bit and fix things we’ve been neglecting for a while.  I see a lot of painting in my future.

I also want to start a section of medicinal plants and herbs in the garden.  Hawaii has some wonderful natives I can put in there.  We already have some things we’re growing that are medicinal, but I want to add a lot more and create a special area dedicated to just this.

And of course, there’s the “get in shape” and “eat right” goal I set every 2 months.  So again, I will start.  If I got a penny for every time I “started” a new workout plan, I’d be rich!

So now to what’s happening around the farm …

We have lots of animals on our little farm – a couple of donkeys, sheep, ducks, chickens, a goose, cats, dogs and fish.  Unfortunately, we have had issues in the past with our other dogs chasing/hurting chickens.  At one time, we had wild dogs killing our sheep.  You get attached to all the animals you have, so it’s sad when you lose one whatever the circumstance, but especially sad when it’s one of your own that has caused the loss.  This brings us to our newest addition – Bailey.  She’s Australian Sheppard, catahoula, and heeler (and maybe other things).   In an effort to insure she gets along with the others animals without hurting them, we’ve been feeding her down in the farm with our chickens and ducks.  She’s a sweetheart, and has been doing quite well.

One of these things is not like the other

Can you find the puppy in the picture?

Bailey

We have one particularly tame duck that literally eats out of her bowl which means the duck is eating puppy food.  It’s a work in progress, but we’re happy they get along.

Yesterday, my husband and daughter painted our new sheep shed.  We even added a little art work to the shed, just to make it a little fun.  It was the perfect day for painting, hot and dry.

We also picked some rambutan.  Last year we got one rambutan, yep just one.  This year we got (drum roll) 6!! Rambutan are such a beautiful fruit.  They look and taste a lot like a lychee.  The name is derived from the Indonesian word “rambut” which means hair, and its name suits it well.  It looks kind of pokey, but it’s actually more soft, kind of like a soft brush. It’s native to Southeast Asia, and grows well in our tropical climate.  Our tree is still quite young, hence the low production.  Optimum production typically occurs around the age of 8 – 10 years old.  We still have a few more years until it gets that old, so I’m excited for what is to come.  Thailand is the largest producer of rambutan.  You have to let the fruit ripen on the tree, if you pick it early it will never get ripe.  You know it’s ripe when it turns the red color you see below.  It’s all green before that.  A serving size of rambutan has about 40% of your daily intake of Vitamin C and 28% of your daily intake of iron.  It also has high levels of manganese.

 

I got two new orchids for my grotto, one pink and one a very pale purple.  Also for Christmas I received two really cute pieces of garden art  – one a large white wooden chicken and the other a stone garden gnome.  I have yet to pick a spot for them, but will take a picture of them when I find their perfect home.

I had family here for Christmas vacation, and was able to take a week off of work.  Tomorrow back to the grindstone and the regular routine, plus a few new goals for this year.  Here’s to a very peaceful 2018.

 

The Miracle Berry

So I managed to get most of my “to do’s” done before Christmas.  The tree didn’t get up until the 23rd, but hey it was before Christmas so it counts!  We picked a bunch of coffee, scooped lilikoi, picked mulberries, and even made jam.  I have family in town which is always nice.  What I most love about company, whatever time of year, is that it forces us to get out of the farm routine (or other household chores), and get out and explore the island or just go to the beach for the day.  We also love sharing our little farm, and showing everyone what we grow and produce.  This brings me to my next blog topic … the miracle berry.

Most of the things we grow on our farm are for  our consumption or for selling.  We do have some flowers which I love to pick and display.  And then we have the miracle berry.  What is exactly is this little fruit??

It’s a red berry that grows on a small shrub. When the flesh part of the fruit is sucked on (we don’t really eat it, we just break the berry up in our mouth and kind of suck on it for a few minutes and then spit it out), a molecule in the berry binds to your tongue’s taste buds which causes sour foods to taste sweet.  You can suck on a lemon and it tastes super sweet.  The molecule is called glycoprotein and it contains miraculin, a carbohydrate chain within the molecule, hence the name “miracle” berry.  It’s pretty amazing,  and it never ceases to thrill those who try it.  The effect lasts about 30 minutes or so.  Anything sweet is intensified.  I once had spaghetti for dinner soon after I tried a miracle berry, and it ruined it.  The sauce was so sweet, I couldn’t eat it.

I often wonder about this plant, and why nature created something like that.  I think it was tried as a sugar substitute, but for some reason it didn’t quite work.  Maybe back in the day when people sailed the world and scurvy was an issue, it made lemons and limes more palatable. The shelf life of a miracle berry is only a few days after it’s picked, so I don’t know that they would’ve brought it on a ship.  What I do know is that it is a neat little addition to our farm that we enjoy sharing it with guests, and they in turn enjoy trying it.

 

Why you should be growing longevity spinach in your garden

We grow five different kinds of spinach on our property – a Brazilian spinach, also called Sisoo (it grows almost like a ground cover and has really curly leaves),  two different varieties of Okinawan spinach – one that has purple leaves, and one that has light green leaves that is often referred to as longevity spinach, Malabar spinach (it’s almost succulent like in its appearance) and Tongan Spinach (its leaves are large, the size of your head!).

  Longevity spinach purple Okinawan spinach Sisoo spinachTongan spinachMalibar spinach

Spinach has a lot of benefits no matter which one you decide to grow.  They all have different tastes and textures, so before you decide to plant a whole bunch of one kind, it’s best to try samples and see which one you prefer.  It’s also important to do a little research to see what types of spinach can grow in your area and climate.  We’re fortunate because most of the tropical spinaches can be grown year round with little problem.

Of all the spinach we grow, I personally like the longevity spinach the best.  Its scientific name is gynura procumbens.  It is  also called “cholesterol spinach.” As the name implies, it’s really good for you.  It’s been called a “super food” – a term we’re hearing a lot lately.  But this actually may be just that.  A native to southeast Asia, it is claimed to help treat a number of different ailments – high cholesterol (bet you could’ve figured that one out yourself), high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatism, insect bites or other wounds, menstrual issues, seizures, and cancer.  It’s even been known to remove age spots!!

You can eat this raw or cooked.  It can be put in smoothies, soups, salads, and even steeped for tea.  Be creative.  I put it in my veggie lasagna and with eggs in a frittata.  We use it in stir fry a lot and my husband likes it in his siamin.  I will say I do prefer it cooked as opposed to raw, but that’s just a personal preference.  

You may be one of those people who feel like they have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, but this is one of the hardiest plants we grow.  It also seems to be fairly pest resistant which is always a problem in our Hawaii climate.  Some people even grow it indoors in kitchen window boxes.  It’s known to do better in semi shade, however, ours is in pretty much full sun and it’s growing really well. 

So if you’re looking to expand your dietary repertoire a bit, eat healthy, and add something to your own home garden, this is the plant to do just that.

Rain, rain go away … just long enough for us to pick coffee

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do, and no time to do it.  I know that happens to everyone all the time, but I’m in the midst of it, and am feeling overwhelmed.  Mostly, I’m feeling this way because of things out of my control.

 Rainy day … again

We’ve had weeks of rain.  Rain is critical to a farm, and given a choice between too much rain or too little, we’d choose too much.  That being said, we need a little reprieve.  We have a ton of coffee to pick, and can’t get outside long enough to pick it.  We’ve decided today, rain or not, we’re gearing up and picking what needs to be picked.  Yesterday, we got to about 14 trees.  We have 60 or so, so we still have a lot to do.  From the 14 trees yesterday, I’d say we picked about 20 gallons.  The trees are loaded, and we’re literally harvesting all the beans on some branches.  Our dry racks are full of coffee as well.

It’s not just the coffee, we have lot other things on the farm that need attention. Asparagus needs picking; I’m hoping it hasn’t gone to fern yet.  We have a lot of lilikoi on the ground that need picking up.  Guavas are falling off the tree (I just see guava jelly rotting on the ground).  Allspice needs to be picked and dried … the list could go on and on and on …

We need to build another sheep/donkey house on the property to keep the animals nice and dry during these rains.  We do have areas for them, but they’re all being used or inaccessible at this time.

The grotto, which I spend three weekends cleaning out, needs to be weeded. I need to add more orchids and flowers, and some cute outdoor decorations I have.

My son is moving out, so we’re going to be converting his room back to our workout room/storage area and converting the current workout room back to our guest bedroom.  It needs to be thoroughly cleaned and painted.

I haven’t finished Christmas shopping; I have NO decorations up at all.  I need to mail the majority of the gifts to the mainland, so I must have them wrapped and packaged soon.

I’m going on a business trip for 5 days.  I’m back on Friday night – just in time for the weekend! AND, I’d like to get this all done before family starts arriving in a little over 2 weeks.

I know I know, some are thinking, it’s not going to happen.  But it will happen.  It has to happen.  So why I am sitting here blogging, I clearly I have a ton of things to do, and am running out of time.  Because this is my life, this is what happens when you commit to living (or trying to live) a sustainable life on a small farm.  There are always things that need to be done, and things out of your control always make it harder to get those things done.   Because both my husband and I have full-time jobs, all these things have to get done after work and on the weekends.

So yes, the next few weeks will be very busy.  This is okay because I’m taking time off during the holidays to enjoy the fruits of our labor this year and spend time with my family.   I love having our little homestead, and while it’s hard at times, I wouldn’t change a thing (okay maybe a few tiny things).

Finally, during these heavy rains, we had an ‘io, a Hawaiian Hawk, take cover in our Royal Poinciana tree.  He stayed there the better part of the day.  I was a little apprehensive to get close to him, but my husband assured me he had no intention of attacking me, so I was able to get this nice shot.  He was beautiful.   There is a family that lives nearby, and we often see them flying above the house.  This is the first time, we’ve had one visit.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  We’ve been celebrating on Friday for the last few years instead of the typical Thursday.  Living on an island, especially an outer island like we do, means that family may not be close by.  This is no exception for us.  While we’re fortunate our son still lives on Island, the rest of our family is on Oahu or the mainland.  So for the last few years, we’ve invited those like us, those whose families are far away, and celebrate the holiday together.  We’ve slowly created our own tradition which is something special.

We didn’t do the typical turkey dinner, rather we cooked a Hawaiian version – kalua pork, corned beef luau (a mix of my husband’s Hawaiian heritage and my Irish), ulu (breadfruit)/cauliflower mash, fruit salad, Kona crab, nabeta, asparagus/green bean casserole, squash crumble, pumpkin soup, and lomi salmon.  I almost forgot we broke open the pineapple liqueur I had made.  For dessert, we had kulolo and a lime/avocado pie.  It was so delicious.  I neglected to take pictures, but have lots of snapshot in my mind and more importantly my heart, so I won’t forget.  A lot of the stuff came straight from the garden.  It feels good to be sustainable and share what we grow.

On Saturday we went to Aikane Nursery in North Kohala.  What a nice group of folks up there.  We got some unusual tropical fruits we’re excited about trying.

This is Pandan.  The leaves are used for seasoning in cooking.  When fully grown it looks very similar to a lauhala tree.

Pedalai – the fruit of this plant looks like a gigantic rambutan.  It’s bright orange with fuzzy hair on the outside.  Its white fleshy interior is supposed to be superior tasting.  We can’t wait to try this!!

We also picked up a new kind of dragon fruit, cardamon, a jelly palm (you can make jelly off of the fruit!!), a dwarf coconut, and a few other things.  We’re going to make signs so we don’t forget what everything is.  Right now, in the garden we have a plant fruiting that we have no idea what it is.  Once it looks ripe, we’ll cut it open and hopefully with a little detective work, we can figure it out.  We need to do a way better job of identifying our new plants, especially the unusual ones.

Our grotto is coming along nicely.  My son’s girlfriend, Mele, gave me a beautiful orchid to add to the garden.  It is a scented orchid too!  We got a few ornamental plants and a few more anthuriums.

We’re still in coffee picking season, but it’s been raining since we last picked on Sunday, so we haven’t had enough sun or dry time to get out there and pick since.  We definitely have to pick next week; rain or not, it needs to picked.  Right now we have all our racks filled in our dry house with coffee.  It’s been a little colder out, so it’s taking a little longer to dry.  The house is well insulated though, so we don’t have an issue of moldy beans this year.

 

The Giant Lilikoi

First and foremost there is such a thing.  We have one growing on our property now.  It is the same genus as the lilikoi or passionfruit, but it is not the same species.  Giant lilikoi also known as giant passionfruit or Giant Granadillas has the scientific name Passiflora quadrangularis.

IMG_0204.JPG

You can see above, the giant lilikoi is just that, GIANT.  The reason we started growing it is because we love lilikoi, and what could be better than a giant one, right?  When in season, I make lilikoi jelly, it’s my husband’s favorite of all the jellies I make.  Making jelly requires individually cutting a lot of lilikoi and scooping out the pulpy seeds.  Imagine (at least this is what I thought), a giant lilikoi filled with copious amounts of pulpy seed.  I was excited at the prospect.  Instead of scooping 100 lilikoi, I could cut 5 and have the same amount pulp for jelly.  Well it didn’t quite work out that way.  But don’t worry, in some regard, it came out better.

IMG_0205.JPG

This is what the giant lilikoi looks likes on the inside.  Yes, there still is a pulpy seed center, but surrounding it, is a fleshy outer core.  When ripe it can be cut just like a melon.  We tried one for the first time about a week ago, and I am excited to report it was delicious.  To me it tasted just like a pear, my husband thought it tasted like honeydew melon.

IMG_1063.JPG

Above is a picture of one of the fruits growing on a vine.  The vine currently is growing over one of our avocado trees.  It’s such a large fruit that this is working out quite well as they hang nicely.  Ripe, the lilikoi turns a slight orange, just slightly.  We’ve waited way too long on many of them and they just rot. You can eat them green and cook it much like a squash or green papaya.

I did scoop the center out and juiced it to see what it tasted like.  It was not as tart as a regular lilikoi and tasted a little like an orange to me, but milder.

IMG_0310.JPG

The flower of the lilikoi is so exotic.  The giant one is even more so.  I would definitely recommend this plant to the home gardener.  Right now our vine has about 10 lilikoi in various stages of development.  You do need something to hang your vine on, because fruit on the ground tend to rot faster.  It’s perfect for our climate in Hawaii, although it doesn’t like flooding, so don’t plant it in any area that can be prone to that.   It grows best from seed, but you can propagate it from cuttings.  Typically it takes a couple of weeks to germinate, but can take longer in colder temperatures.  There are ways to prepare your seeds to help propagate it better – soaking the seed the 48 hours and scraping the seed with a little sandpaper before planting it said to help the process.  We’ll try growing some here to see how quickly we can get them to sprout.  But truth be told, one vine is plenty for us, it’s a little like a Jack and the beanstalk vine, luckily we have a large avocado tree for it to grow on.

Avocados

IMG_0203.JPG

We have 14 different varieties of avocado growing on our property.  We have 19 trees total.  The goal was to try to produce avocados that would give us a year round supply.  We’re close, although while is a period where we get a break from ripe avocados, there is at least one tree if not more with avocados on it at any given time.

Above is a picture of the avocados that are currently fruiting.  Sometimes when we get an avocado, we are told it is one thing, but when it fruits, it is clearly not what we thought we bought.  We have a few of those trees on our property and have done our best to figure out exactly what kind of avocado they are.  You can grow an avocado from a seed, and a lot of people do just that.  But here’s the rub, the only way you will know what kind of avocado you will actually get is by grafting a known avocado scion (a branch that is about to start budding into leads) on to a root stock.  You have to match the diameter of the scion exactly to the root stock.  Avocados cross pollinate which means they can get pollinated by bees or the wind from avocados in the area, so you don’t know what kind of avocado you will get.

So from left to right, the avocados above are:

  1. Kahalu’u
  2. Linda (these get HUGE aka dieter avocado due to low oil content)
  3. Malama (easy to tell because it gets really dark purple)
  4. Murashige
  5. Pinkerton
  6. ? we were told this is a Kahaluu, but it looks nothing like our kahaluu.  we believe it’s a Nishikawa.
  7. ? Again, we were told it’s a Malama, but it doesn’t have the classic purple until it’s completely ripe.  We believe it’s a cross between a Malama and a Sharwil
  8. San Miguel (MY FAVORITE!!!!)
  9. Sharwil
  10. ? (this was here when we moved in, we think it’s a mini shawil, it has a tiny tiny seed)

Our spring/summer avocados which aren’t shown in the picture are Yamagata, green/gold, Ota, and Fujikawa.  We have one other variety that was grafted by a co-worker’s husband from a tree in their neighbor’s yard.  He named it after the neighbor whose name we can’t remember.

All of our our avocados are creamy and buttery.  If we had a tree produce stringy, watery ones, it would be cut down, and use it for mulch.  My absolute favorite avocado is the San Miguel.  While I said all our avocados are buttery, this one is the so creamy it melts in your mouth.  We have 3 of these trees.

We had one avocado tree growing when we bought the property.  So the remaining 18 were planted by my husband in the last 13 years.  All are producing at this point.  From graft it takes about 3 – 5 years to start producing fruit.

Avocados are one of the healthiest foods for you.  In a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving you will find:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
  • Then it contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).

This serving size has 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 “net” carbs, so it’s considered a low-carb food.  Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fats.

 

 

What it takes to make a cup of coffee …

The first year that we harvested coffee from our own plants and roasted it, we didn’t get much. We had a couple of pounds of processed coffee.  The processing of that first batch taught us a lot.  Everything that first year was done by hand.  We hand pulped the coffee and hulled the parchment by hand as well, as we had no equipment.  Those two bags were precious, and I wouldn’t have sold them for anything (well maybe for a whole lot of money, and I’m talking a few grand).  I barely wanted to offer anyone a cup of coffee, let alone a bag.  It was a LOT of work, and after that I can say that I truly appreciate a cup of coffee because I literally know the work that goes into making it.

I’m not a huge coffee drinker, and reserve it mostly for the weekends sitting on the porch in the morning before we start our day.  But I think anyone who grows things, whether it be on a huge farm, or a backyard plot, or herbs grown in a planter on the kitchen window, understands the work done to have producing plants.  That translates to the taste of the products grown.  Whether it actually tastes better may be subjective, but it’s yours from your hard work, so yeah, it tastes the best, better than anything you’ve ever tasted before.  AND just for the record, I want to be clear from an purely objective view point, our coffee is the best coffee around, and not because we’ve grown, just because it actually is.

So over the last few years, we’ve progressed from hand processing to buying equipment to assist with that processing.  That was a quick decision; hand pulping a bucket of coffee cherries is one thing, it simply can’t be done when you have any bulk.  Well sure it can be done, but not without losing your sanity, and without any level of efficiency.  So our first pulper was one that we have now, we’ve just added the motor this year.  Seriously can I get an “Amen” for electricity.   We picked about 10 gallons of coffee yesterday, and that little motor got it done in minutes.  There is something to hand cranking, and muscles gained in the process, but after picking for two hours, you don’t want to hand crank anything.

IMG_0975with the hand crank

IMG_0130.JPGwith the motorized crank.

The cherry is the red coffee bean

IMG_0123.JPGIMG_0122.JPG

So the hubby and I got in a little disagreement last week about when to pick.  He thought we should wait a week, and I thought he didn’t want to pick that weekend, and he was coming up with excuses.  But well, he was right.  We waited a week, and our cherries are a beautiful dark red, and clearly that weren’t quite ready to pick the week before.  The picture above shows a little bit of whitish residue on our cherry and leaves.  That is a clay we are using to manage the coffee borer beetle, and it works like a charm.  It’s all natural, and organic, and we’ve had a lot of success with that.  We had probably 5 beans yesterday that showed coffee borer damage, and that’s out of 10 gallons.

IMG_0128.JPG

So after you get the red cherry off the bean, you ferment your beans. Best fermenting times are 8 – 14 hours, it depends, on the quantity of beans you have, the temperature,  and the kind of bean.  When you take the red part of the bean, you’re left with two slimy half beans.  They’re slippery, and hard to pick up if they fall on the ground because of that mucilage.  So the fermenting part, gets rid of that mucilage.  Too much fermenting can change the taste of the coffee bean.  It’s an art, growing and processing is an art.  It’s an art we’re learning, which means one day our coffee, which is already really good, will be even better.

IMG_0125.JPG

fermented bean (they get all bubbly)

After fermentation is done, you rinse the beans off with water, and lay the coffee out on dry racks.  We now have a little house my husband built.  Today, it’s raining, so that house is awesome.  Our first go at dry racks worked well, but they were only protected from the elements from three sides, so during raining season, we did have some beans go bad with mold.  This shouldn’t happen in our dry house. Again, something we learned along the way.

IMG_0085

IMG_0126.JPG

Drying coffee can take about a week or so.  Yesterday it got up to 104 degrees in the dry house.  We have a fan in there as well.  Ideally you want it less than 100 degrees, but hot, hence the drying part.  But Mother Nature has a lot of control over that.    You dry the coffee so that the bean has about 10 -12% moisture left.  This is something my husband can tell.  He literally bites the bean and he can tell if its dry enough.  I’m still learning this part.  Once dry, you can store coffee with its parchment on for up to two years.  We keep ours in large burlap bags, until we’re ready to roast it.

When it’s time to roast, you remove the parchment.  This is the paper like part covering the bean.  We had a small hand parchment remover, which was fine when we just wanted to roast a batch for ourselves.  But we’d have to put the coffee beans in a few times to fully remove the parchment.  Not only was it time consuming, but it would damage some the beans in the process.  So we ended up buying the electric huller.  Again, can I get an “Amen” for electricity.  This will save us a lot of time.  I’m not going to lie, it was spendy, but we decided to go for it, as we’re going to be doing all our own processing.

IMG_0138.JPGcoffee be a with parchment on top, coffee bean (green bean) with parchment removed on bottom

IMG_0141.JPG

old huller

IMG_0132.JPG

new huller

Once the parchment is off you can roast.  For our coffee, we’ve found that that French Roast or dark roast leads to a really smooth coffee taste – not fruity, and little to no bitter after taste.

IMG_1013.JPGThen we weigh it, and bag it in 1/2 pound or pound bags, and put our pretty label on it.

IMG_0142.JPG

There is a whole other discussion on how to actually to brew your coffee. I will say, don’t grind the bean until you’re ready to actually make your coffee.  That preserves the quality of your bean the best.  But using a French press, or ninja machine, or regular coffee brewer, is a whole conversation in and of itself.

And that my friends, in a nutshell is how you make a cup of coffee …

IMG_0143.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

When life give you lemons …

make limoncello.  It took a lot longer to do than I had planned.  Making limoncello is actually easy.  You basically peel lemons and then scrape off all the pith and put the pithless rinds in a jar with some alcohol.  I chose vodka.  I made limoncello once before with Everclear; it tasted like rubbing alcohol.  Okay, well I’ve never actually tasted rubbing alcohol, but that’s what it smelled like and my limoncello was horrible.  It was a waste.  So this time, I took my time and really made sure all the pith was off which was pretty time consuming – hence the “it took longer than I had planned” part.  For those who don’t know the pith is the white stuff on the inside of a rind, and when making limoncello that pith will ruin your liqueur.  I followed a recipe just to insure I had the right proportions and used 10 Meyer lemons.   I choose vodka because I’ve had success making liqueurs with that before.  I made jelly out of the remaining parts of the lemon.  If the limoncello doesn’t come out, at least I have the jelly.  That tasted good, it takes like lemonade in a jar.

IMG_0104.JPG

I also finished making the pineapple liqueur.  It’s okay tasting, just a hint of pineapple.  I think I may have let it sit too long, which I didn’t know was possible.  My son said he had some made by someone else, and they only let it sit overnight and their’s was delicious.  Next time I’ll try it that way.  The lilikoi, however, I know tastes better sitting.  I tried it yesterday, it was okay.  I need to add more lilikoi, but we don’t have any currently, so I’m waiting.  You can see the pineapple liqueur in the top left corner of the picture.

For the limoncello, the recipe said let it sit for 3 days, so I will do that and see what happens.  Crossing my fingers it comes out okay because we have so many lemons, and this would make a really nice Christmas gift.  I bought some really pretty bottles at Ben Franklin the other day just for this purpose.

We should have plenty of coffee this year, so I’ll be making my coffee liqueur like I do each year.  For coffee liqueurs I usually use rum instead of vodka for the alcohol.  I like making liqueurs because it’s a different way of preserving what we grow, they’re easy to make, and they’re the perfect gift to bring when invited to a holiday party.