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Guava guava jelly

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We have a few guava trees on our property.  The most prolific one is right next to one of our ponds and many of the guavas end up in the pond.  Unfortunate for us, but the ducks eat them so not as unfortunate for them.

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So I spent the morning making guava jelly (while humming the Ka’au Crater Boys guava jelly song the whole time).  Not sure if my nephew Mika reads this blog, but yes, I’ll be sending some his way.  Guavas have a lot of pectin, so making jelly is super easy.  I simply cut the guavas in quarters and boiled with a little water for about 45 minutes.  Then I strained all the seeds out.  Once I had the juice, I measured it.  You’re supposed to use equal part sugar to equal parts juice, so I had 8 cups juice, which technically means I should’ve used 8 cups sugar.  I used a little less sugar just to try and be “healthier”.  But as anyone knows who makes jelly, if you don’t use sugar it’s not going to jell.  I also added about 1 cup of lime juice. It’s a little more lime juice than most recipes call for, but guava jelly is super sweet, so it adds a tiny bit of tart.  I then boiled everything together again, first a rolling boil to dissolve the sugar, then a steady boil (I set my stove to 6 out of 10 in heat) for about half an hour.   It’s super important to stir throughout, especially if the sugar hasn’t dissolved; one it can actually burn, and two it can boil over your pot.  Sticky jelly all of your stove it not fun, and unfortunately I keep learning that lesson over and over again.  DO NOT leave a pot of jelly unmanned on your stove for more than 2 seconds.  Don’t do it, I tell you, it’s a mess.  I digress, after it’s cooked and you test for readiness (I use the cold spoon test – dip a cold spoon into your mixture, let it sit, is it starting to get tacky – yes, it’s ready, no cook a little longer), pour into jars, boil jars, then Pau – Guava jelly.  Well not quite, done, they have to cool and set, but that just requires waiting.

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Finished product

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It came out a dark red color, I think because I used an organic raw sugar instead.  It’s usually a little more pink colored.  It tastes pretty good if I say so myself.

I also picked up lilikoi today; I say picked up, because you’re literally picking them off of the ground.  If you try and pick a lilikoi on the vine, it’s not going to be ready, be patient, let them drop – they’re sweeter that way.  Lilikoi jelly is my husband’s FAVORITE!  Last year, we had a horrible year, and only had a handful of lilikoi.  Usually we have a loads.  This is year is better than last, not like our normal yield, but I should have enough eventually to make some jelly.  I also make a mean lilikoi liqueur.  I hope I have enough lilikoi this year to make some of that as well.  We have a number of varieties of lilikoi on the property.  The purple one is new and isn’t fruiting yet, but our orange and yellow varieties are fruiting.

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You can see the difference in the two in the picture above.  I find the yellow one slightly more tart and the orange a little sweeter, but they’re both delicious.

We have a lot of fruit right now.  My son took the picture below.  Not only did he take the picture, he harvested all the fruit.  I saw it on his Instagram account, and wished I had the picture for my blog.  Little did I know he actually took some pictures of the yield with my camera.  What a nice surprise.  (Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, starfruit, dragonfruit, papaya, pumpkin, and breadfruit, oh my!)

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He took a bunch of pictures.  I love this one, because Otis is licking his lips.  He loves bananas!  I made some pumpkins soup out of the pumpkins, we dried the pineapple, my son gave some of the breadfruit away (we have SOOOO many if anyone wants), and we’re slowly eating or giving other stuff away.

I feel extremely grateful for this little piece of heaven.  But most of all I’m extremely grateful for my husband.  The property was beautiful when we got it, but all the trees, and ponds, and fruit and vegetables, that was my husband’s work.  He is the hardest worker I know.  When he comes home from work, he’s in the garden.  Every weekend, he is in the garden.  While I know for a fact, it is a lot of hard work for him, the farm is his church – it’s his place to connect and be grounded.  He loves it, and I love that he loves it. I’m grateful everyday for him.

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Coffee time!

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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 a 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!!

 

Homegrown lunch

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Everything but the peanuts is from the farm

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I would love one day to be almost entirely self sufficient on our farm at least food wise.  There are certain things I can’t grow or make at this point, so I know that this won’t  happen for awhile unless I completely change my diet.  I’m not opposed to that, but while we have a lot of fruits and vegetables that we do grow, it is seasonable, and I’m still learning to be better at canning and preserving foods for later.  So one month we’ll have a ton of pumpkins or a ton of dragon fruit, and one tends to get tired of eating the same thing over and over again.  But today I started small, lunch was entirely farm produced minus the peanuts in the papaya salad.

Quickie papaya salad recipe:

Green papaya grated (there is a special grater for this, see picture below, it’s the light blue handled tool), one large size tomato, one lime, green beans (I substituted moringa beans), fish sauce, and a little chili pepper if you like.

We have a large mortar and pestle that is perfect for papaya salad.  Par boil beans (about 4 or 5 large beans).  Cut tomatoes in quarters and cut lime in quarters.  Put green beans, tomatoes, lime, chili pepper in mortar and start grinding.  Add a little fish sauce.  Fish sauce is salty, start with a little and add to taste.  Grind a little more, and then slowly start adding the green papaya.  I usually use one large green papaya.  This will serve about 4 people as a side salad or two people if this is your main meal.  Keep pounding the pestle until everything is thoroughly mixed.  I add about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce total, and usually squeeze a little more lime in at the end.  Garnish with peanuts.  I do this all to taste.  My husband likes salty and spicy, so he usually adds a little more chili pepper and fish sauce then I do.  Start at small, because if you add to much, the only way to save it is to grate more green papaya.

Papaya salad #greenpapayasalad #hawaiilife #farmlife #homesteading

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The drink above is turmeric, ginger limeade sweetened with honey.  I squeezed about 6 limes for the pitcher.  In addition I boiled two cups of water with two tablespoons of turmeric and two tablespoons of ginger.  I let it cool, strained it and added this my lime juice.  I added more water to fill the pitcher and honey to taste.  A nice healthy refreshing drink for the summer.

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 that you need as you need a lot, but if you keep any bit of the stem on, it’s like you’re eating little sticks.  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 need to cook them longer, and then we just scrape the inside of the bean out as the outer shell becomes too fibrous as it ages to eat.

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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.  But they are quite nutritious.  They have a lot of calcium and potassium, and is known to reduce inflammation in the body.  The flowers can be made into a tea as well, and have been used as a cold remedy in the Philippines. 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.  There 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!

 

Staycation Vacation

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I enjoy when visitors come although my in laws aren’t technically visitors since they have a home right next door to us.  They live in Seattle, so they’re not here all the time.  When they come, we still spend a lot of time doing home/farm stuff, but it also gives us an opportunity to do some exploring and relaxing.  So I took a couple of days off, and started the weekend early.  Wednesday night we saw Wonder Woman.  It was a good movie, but sadly after about 8:30 p.m., I can’t stay awake, good movie or not.  Thursday was spent doing house stuff and lounging by the pool.  Friday, we went up to Hawi and did a small hike (more like walk, it’s 3.5 miles round trip) to see the Mookini heiau and King Kamehameha’s birthplace.  The heiau is pretty spectacular.  It was a hot day, but we were fortunate it was overcast, otherwise it would’ve been very uncomfortable.  Saturday, we went to Kauanoa Beach at Mauna Kea.  It was beautiful, the water was warm, the ocean breezes blowing – it was perfection.  Then we went out to eat at the Fish and Hog, which was great, and then home for an afternoon nap. (okay I was the only one who napped, well me and the cat).  Tonight, we’ll have a campfire.

Why do I write about this?  There is so much to do around the farm, but I didn’t do much, and often times I feel guilty when I don’t take care of chores first.  But sometimes, you have to be the “chore”, you have to take care of you, and just do stuff that you want to do instead of stuff you have to do, or know you should do.  So it was great to just relax and enjoy the beauty of this island and the company of friends and family.  And, I did this without feeling guilty this time.  Okay, maybe just a little guilty, but I’m working on that.

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coffee and mulberry scones with a view for breakfast

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the pool

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evening fire at the pit

Dragon Fruit

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It’s dragon fruit season or as I like to refer to them as – “fruit of the dragon”.  A little homage to Game of Thrones I guess, plus it just sounds so much more exotic.  Last season, we didn’t get a very large harvest which I believe has a lot to do with our lack of bees.  This year, however, looks a little better, and we’re seeing bees on the flowers which is great.

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, comes in different colors and varieties.  We have two varieties, one that is white inside and one that is deep purple.  For those who haven’t had, the closest comparison in taste and consistency would be something like a kiwi.  They’re especially good cold, and in this hot dry summer they will be a welcome treat.

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In the basket above, most of them are white inside.  The fruit that is in the middle with longer green “leaves/petals” and that is slightly darker looking is dark purple inside.  The purple ones also tend to be slightly small in size.

The other thing that is ripening now are our mangoes.  Mangoes may just be my favorite fruit of all time, and I like a lot of fruit.  We cover our mangoes with a small netted bag to keep fruit flies from enjoying them before we get a chance ourselves.  We have a number of different varieties.

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The above bowl has three different varieties – manzanilla (dark red on the right originated from Mexico), R2E2 (top light colored, Australian variety), and rapoza (left hand side, it’s a local cross mango).  The R2E2 although cultivated in Australia, it has its origins from the Kent mango grown in Florida.  The Manzanillo mango is thought to have originated from a Haden mango seedling, although, we they look quite different then the Haden.  They were introduced into Hawaii around 1978.  Rapoza’s were cultivated from an Irwin avocado in the mid 70’s at the University of Hawaii.  I have to say they’re all good.  I definitely can tell a bad mango, but when it comes to good mangoes, all of the above a great, and I can’t tell the difference in taste between any of the above.  My husband probably could, however.

I see a lot of tangerines and oranges on the tree, although I’d say they’re probably a few months away from harvesting.  It is a hot dry dry summer.  Our lawn is getting brown and crunchy which is something we haven’t seen for many years.  We’re on catchment, which means our water source is from rain.  Our tank is a little below half, so we’re more conscious of our water use – shorter showers, no washing cars, etc.  Hurricane Fernanda is now a tropical storm and I’m hoping we feel some rain from the remnants of it this weekend, but it looks like it may miss us completely.

Blogging …

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My intention when I first started blogging was purely to document our farm – understanding its cycles, what produces when and what grows well and doesn’t.  But then as I read other blogs I decided to make mine public as well with the intention of updating weekly.  How hard can it be to sit down at my computer and type once a week about happenings in the farm.  There is actually a lot of stuff going on so there is plenty of material to write about.  But alas, theory and practice are always different, and it’s been more challenging than I thought.  Truth be told, it’s not that hard if I just make a commitment.  It is interesting to note, if you look at some of the blogs I follow, many if not most haven’t kept up with theirs either.   So I know I’m not alone in my efforts.  But I’m going to recommit to at minimum weekly blogging (along with other commitments, 10K steps a day, daily exercise, limiting processed and sugary foods … the list could go on).

So today … FIGS

 

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We planted a number of fig trees a few years ago, but the birds always get to most of them before we do, and our yield hasn’t been large.  This year, however, is a different story.  Our figs are going off, and we have lots of them.  We have many different varieties, blue mountain, brown turkey, Kadota, and small honey figs.  The picture above shows the small honey figs, brown turkey, and the Kadota.  We have more varieties, but we haven’t done a good job of remembering what they are (hence the idea of the blog to keep track of these things when we get them).  All the figs are really good, but those small honey figs are so so sweet, they’re to die for.  This year we placed bird repellant discs on the fig trees in an effort to divert birds. We have a few different types, and they all seem to be working well.  We ordered ours from Amazon.

 

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This year we planted number of European figs in a newer section of the garden.  They’re too young to produce at this time, but the trees are growing well, and we might get some next year.  We planted black Madeira Portuguese figs, honey sweet fig – dark Portuguese variety, blue mountain, Genovese Nero fig, and a variety of a giant fig.  We’ll see what variety does well, and plant more of those.   On the Big Island there are 10 of the 13 climate zones located here.  We live in a Mediterranean region here along this section of the Hamakua coast.  Although it’s not a true Mediterranean climate, the classification is close, so we fit into it.  Figs should do well in this region, and this year it appears that is true.

Coffee beans

Two years ago, we discovered we had the coffee borer beetle on our property.  It was disappointing to say the least.  We have three different areas where we grow our coffee, and one area was way more affected than the other two areas, although all the areas certainly had it.  We debated on the best course of action.  There is an organic fungus you can use to spread over the plants that helps reduce the numbers.  When kept in check, it can really help the amount of viable beans a farm can produce.  One has to also be very vigilant about taking care of and disposing of exposed beans.  By the time we realized our problem, a lot of beans were affected.  We decided after much consideration, to chop all the trees down and start from scratch.  We have about 50 trees, and while a lot for us, it is small when compared to most farms.  The life cycle of a female beetle can be up to 190, so figuring if we got rid of all the trees, and waited a year, we should be good for restarting.  All of the trees with the exception of two, grew back large and green and healthy.  We have lots of beans on them, and will manage the beetle from the very start, which should greatly help our actual coffee bean yield.  We have also started a new area in the pasture.  Those trees won’t be ready for a few more years, but we would like to have more trees, which will end up being quite the hobby in our retirement.  (Retirement is still quite a few years away just in case you’re wondering.). So this year, we hope to have a nice yield of coffee.  I’m excited.  Our coffee is really tasty, and while I may be slightly biased, we’ve heard from others it is quite good as well.

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The coffee borer beetle is in Hamakua.  It’s not going anywhere, so we are going to be more vigilant about managing it than ever before.  It’s a bit of a bummer, to say the least, but we really enjoy the coffee we grow, and it is a fact of life at this point.

Summer is almost here

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It feels like it’s already here it’s been quite hot lately.  Our lignum vitae tree, also called the Tree of Life, is covered in periwinkle flowers and bees.  It’s been awhile since we’ve seen this many bees.  I’m hoping they’ll migrate over to the lilikoi flowers.

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We’ve seen a few different types of bees on the flowers.  I was able to get some nice shots of two different kinds.  The second one is really small compared to the regular honeybee.

It’s nice to see all the bees, the tree is earning its name, the tree of life.

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In other farm happenings, our last set of duck eggs hatched.  Our white call duck was sitting on two eggs.  Every day we’d check to see if they had progressed, and during our last check found one ducking that had hatched and one egg in the water.  The mama was uninterested in her baby.  At this age and size, if the mama doesn’t take care and keep her baby warm and cared for it won’t make it.  The egg in the water wasn’t viable unfortunately.  We took the other baby duck who was now a loner, and put it in our incubator and kept it in the house.  It started to imprint on my husband and just quacked non stop until he would come by.  We ended up putting a small stuffed animal in the incubator with it to keep it company.  We checked the local farm store to see if they had any baby chicks with the intention of getting one to keep it company, but they had none.  We then called our neighbor, and she had a recent hatch of baby chicks, and she graciously gave us two.  At first we weren’t sure if they would like each other, but it didn’t take too long until we could see they would okay together.

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The chicks are just the perfect size, and as you can see they’re buddies.

Our dragon fruits are starting to flower.  We have two different varieties, one that’s white inside and one that’s dark purple/pink inside.  They taste pretty much the same, although I find the white a little sweeter, and my husband finds the purple one a little sweeter.  Right now the purple ones are starting to flower, although we see a few white flowers coming up too.  The flowers are pretty spectacular.

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You can tell the purple dragon fruit because the leaves surrounding the flower have a purple tinge on the ends like most of the buds above.  The flowers at the top have no purple on the edge so the insides will be white and the one in the middle has some purple.  Last season we didn’t have too many fruit although we did have a lot of flowers.  Hopefully most of the flowers will pollinate and we’ll get a nice batch of dragon fruit this time around.  Dragon fruit is one the fruits we sell.

Today we had a chance to get out on the boat for a bit.  The water was so calm it was like a lake.  We didn’t catch anything trolling, but my husband jumped in and speared some kole we’ll fry up for dinner.  We ended the day with a jump in the pool when we got home.  It was a pretty good weekend.

 

 

Home Again

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It’s been a few weeks since my last entry.  We went to Boulder to see my daughter graduate with her Master’s Degree.  We spent about a week and half  there.  The weather was beautiful and warm for most of the trip, but the last two days we got a snow storm.  The snow was beautiful, aesthetically speaking, however practically speaking it was COLD, and we lost power for a bit.  Overall the trip was wonderful.  I’m happy to be home, back to our little homestead.  It’s clear summer is right around the corner, it is has been hot.

So what’s growing right now …

lots of tomatoes (I’m super excited about this!), white mountain apples, Anna apples (we only have about a 10 on all the trees combined), figs, asparagus, blackberries, pumpkins, papayas, lychee (mostly from my in-law’s yard!) and … vanilla!  Our vanilla plant flowered!  I’m not sure how old it is, but we never thought we’d see flowers.  The bug that pollinated vanilla orchids is no longer around, so vanilla has to be hand pollinated.  The flower opens for one day only, so you have to catch it at just the right time.  I’ve hand pollinated about 6 flowers so far.  Let me rephrase that, I’ve attempted to hand pollinate 6 flowers.  I’m not sure if any took, you have to be super gentle.  So here’s the issue, our orchid plant is growing up two royal palm trees we have, and the flowers are really high up.  AND, I’m scared of heights.  Between David and I, I watched the youtube videos of how to pollinate the flower, so the job at this point is mine.  I think I’m doing it right, but it’s a really fragile job, and you can lose the pollen so easily.  We’ll see what happens.  If we get any vanilla beans, I’ll be excited.

Here’s a recent harvest from a quick morning trip to the garden.

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You can see some of the orchid flowers just above the end of the ladder.  That’s a 20 foot ladder although it’s not all the way up.  We didn’t plan for the orchid to grow that way, it just did.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s pretty amazing.