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.

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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.

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Busy, busy, busy

This week was crazy busy at work, the weekend couldn’t come soon enough.  I think this is the first weekend in 3 weeks we don’t have to be anywhere.  That means one thing, we have a lot of catching up to do on the farm.

David got out on the boat Monday for a solo fishing trip.  He launched out of Laupahoehoe.  It doesn’t have the best ramp, so conditions have to be pretty perfect to go out, and it was.  I helped him launch, but he got in all on his own.

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He caught hapu’upu’u (Hawaiian sea bass), opakapaka (pink snapper), and kawakawa (mackerel tuna). He dried the kawakawa, and then we had Chinese style hapu’upu’u and opakapaka.  This is my absolute favorite way to have fish.

You steam the fish in ti leaves with ginger and garlic, my husband adds onions too.  Then when it’s cooked, you pour hot steaming peanut oil over it, add a little shoyu, and it’s done.  Actually it’s perfect.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  It’s a really good way to cook white fish.  I’ve never done a tuna that way, and am not so sure how that would work.

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David finished the dry house this week.  That’s where he dried the fish and we have some coffee in there now drying as well.  Well almost finished, he needs to add some more screening on the left hand side.  He did a great job.  It’s going to serve us well.

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We had our morning coffee on the porch and then got to picking coffee early before it got too hot.  We picked out about five gallons in a little over an hour.  I processed the coffee, and am super happy to report that we had very little beans damaged by the borer beetle. We’re doing a really good job of staying on top of treatments.  It’s only 11:00 a.m. and it’s already super hot, so I took a quick break to jump in the pool, so some laundry, and blog.  This afternoon, we’ll be picking bananas and pretty much the last of the dragon fruit for drying.  We have a little fish left from Monday so we’ll be having fish for dinner … Chinese stye of course.

Garden recap

We spent last weekend in Honolulu with family.  The minute we got home, my husband was in the garden- feeding animals, checking on plants, watering, etc.  He didn’t even take his luggage out of the car.  It’s been a very warm summer which just zaps any energy and I find it hard to do anything in the garden without wanting to take a nap 5 minutes in.  This weekend, was similar.  I had a business trip that I left for Sunday afternoon, so Saturday I spent picking coffee and doing household chores.  As you know, we’ve made the decision to do all our all coffee producing.  We’ve purchased all the major equipment, and my husband has been working on one final project – a room to dry coffee.  We currently have a large three tier dry box where we dry our coffee beans.  It works quite well, but in inclement weather there are some issues.  Recently we visited some friends who have a “dry room”.  That room was HOT.  It would dry coffee a lot quicker than our current system.  So we decided to build our own – well my husband decided to build his own.  I was called in to hold two beams in place, but the rest of the work is his.  He’s poured the cement and framed it.  It will be on a much smaller basis than our friends, but it will serve us well.  I’m curious to see what will be done when I get back.

 

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I went right back to work after last weekend was over, but my husband had the week off and went fishing with our son.  I came  home Tuesday to the feast above.  Three kinds of seared fish and two sashimi with fresh avocado.  It was kawakawa, ono (my favorite, it’s the white one), and rainbow runner.

But now I’m in Honolulu for the week.  Here’s the view:

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It’s actually a way better view than it appears, however, I’m scared of heights and was afraid I’d drop my phone over the edge if I got too close!  You can actually see the sand and people in the water, but again, I was too scared to take that picture.

 

Dragon Fruit & Coffee

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What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday we had a few people come over to visit and  pick some fruit in the farm.  While there were certainly dragonfruit available for them to pick, it did NOT look like this yesterday.  We’re in the process of picking and will be selling to one of the CSA’s we work with in Hilo.

The dragon fruit on the lower limbs gets eaten by the chickens.  As you can see from the picture, some of them are just the right height for them.  Needless to say they love it too.

We also picked some coffee today.  Not a lot, but more than last week.  It never fails in the beginning of the season, I’m super into the picking process.  It’s exciting, I know that we’ll have a lot of our own coffee, and it’s a walking or rather “picking” meditation in a way.  I really get into it.  Sadly, I now this feeling will change.  Picking coffee for a half hour is different than picking coffee all morning.  My husband and I will pick about a 5 gallon bucket each time we pick during season.  Today we picked about a quarter bucket together.  We also roasted 4 pounds of coffee in our new roaster today.  The beans aren’t from our farm, it’s what we’ve been using to help season the roaster.  I LOVE the machine.  I know it’s just a roaster, but this is going to serve us quite well.

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The finished product.  It’s been a busy weekend on the farm.

Coffee time!

Berries are starting to turn red.  Last week, I picked some of my sister in laws beans, and this week, I picked a few of ours as well.  Good news is that while there appears to be some coffee borer beetles in our beans, it is very minimal.  This last batch had only 2 beans with the beetle.  I’m so relieved, but still cautiously optimistic.  We’re going to be treating monthly to help insure the level of infestation stays really low.

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We recently made a big decision regarding our coffee processing.  We decided to purchase a motor for our cherry huller, a larger home roaster, and a parchment husker.  We currently have a cherry huller, that takes the red coating off the bean (see pictures above).   As you can see from the above picture, there is a hand crank.  It works well, and is a work out in some respect, but with the amount of beans we produce, hand cranking just isn’t sustainable.  This new motor will make this process substantially quicker. For large yields, we typically sent our beans off to a local coffee producer  who would take the parchment off the bean and then roast the coffee.  These recent purchases will allow us to do this all by ourselves.  The roaster that we had (and still have) roasts about 1/2 pound of coffee.  The new roaster will roast about 5 pounds of coffee at a time.  I’m excited to take this big step.  It was a large investment financially, but in time in will easily pay for itself.  Best of all, it looks like the family will be getting some special estate coffee for Christmas!!

 

Moringa

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We have a number of Moringa trees on our property.  These trees grow very easily here.  They’re native to South Asia, and are a draught resistant plant.   You can eat everything on the moringa tree.  The leaves which are small and round are highly nutritious.  Eaten raw they have a peppery taste to them.  I like to put them in soup.  It’s a little tedious picking all the leaves off, and because they’re small you need a lot of them.  The leaves have the following nutrient value:

  • 9 times the protein of yogurt
  • 10 times the vitamin A of carrots
  • 15 times the potassium of bananas
  • 17 times the calcium of milk
  • 12 times the vitamin C of oranges
  • 25 times the iron of spinach

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The plant also has bean pods.  You can eat them when they’re smaller, just like a green beans, or if you wait until their slightly larger, you can eat only the inside of the bean as the outer shell becomes too fibrous.  It’s still really good this way, and in fact, I actually prefer them.

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skinny beans in the bucket, larger ones on the table

You can eat the Moringa flowers as well.  They can be eaten raw or  lightly cooked, but you can’t cook them too much as they lose their nutrient value.  Eat too many, and you might have to make several trips to the bathroom.  They too are quite nutritious.  They have a lot of calcium and potassium, and are known to reduce inflammation in the body.  The flowers can be made into a tea as well.  They’re also not supposed to be eaten if you’re pregnant, however they are good for nursing moms.  Always good to check these things out if you’re pregnant or nursing.

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And finally the bark, yes the bark can be used as well!  There are quite a number of medicinal uses for this as well.  There’s a process to make it into a paste.  I haven’t done that yet, and probably won’t until I do further research.  I have, however, eaten all the other things off the tree.  They’re also a really pretty tree, especially when it’s flowering.

Other happenings around the garden …

We picked the first red coffee beans, they’re in my in laws yard, but we’ll be getting ours very shortly as well.  So it’s officially staring our processing season.

And most exciting … I wrote a little about our dragon fruit, but the really exciting part is we have bees!!! Lots of bees.  I’m not sure if they’re coming from a neighbor who keeps bees or they’re wild, but they’re pollinating the flowers and doing a bang up job if I may so say myself!!

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all kinds of bees too.  I love having them around!