Marsh Edge Farm Notes

Marsh Edge Farm Notes:
Welcome to my farm blog. I don't have a farm, but I do everything possible to have fresh produce on my table all summer long, as well as can and preserve much of what I grow. I live on the edge of Tolland Marsh and three years ago began calling my home garden Marsh Edge Farm. I created a label to place on all my canned goods, and everything I preserve, from jams to saurkraut end up with one of my simple labels.

I have two gardens, one is a spring garden and the other is my summer garden. From each garden I usually can grow enough to keep me in fresh vegetables for the whole summer, as well as enough to can and freeze to last the winter.

I also grow many of the herbs that go into my dishes. One of my favorite things to do with all these vegetables is create recipes that my family will eat. That is what this blog is mainly about, the recipes I develop or create in my kitchen as I experiment. Hope you enjoy reading my farm blog, and I hope you will try some of my recipes.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Time For Harvesting Mint

The mints have been growing steadily since the snow melted.  It is time to get my first batch of mints, before they begin to bloom.  If they are cut now, I should get at least one more good crop of mint, but I can usually get at least three in a season.   I have mints growing in different parts of the yard so they don't cross, though the combination makes a nice all purpose garden mint if you aren't prone to keeping them separate.  I have spearmint, lemon mint and peppermint, and each has its own unique properties. 

What do you do with mint?  One of my favorite things to do is make mint apple jelly when the apples are ready.  Perhaps this year I will make some.  I dry my mint as well.  Once I gather it up, I tie about 6 or 8 stalks together around the stem,
 then hang them upside down and put in my drying shed, which is adjacent to my summer garden.  It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to dry, depending on humidity and temperature.  Cut your mints after the dew has dried, but before it gets to the heat of the day.  That is a general rule of thumb for just about any herb. 
My drying shed is a very small 6 ft x 14 ft building that I use as a potting shed, a drying shed, and general all purpose storage shed for tools.




                                  Spearmint hangs in a dark corner.  I also
                                  dry marjoram, oregano, sage, basil, just
                                  to name a few of the herbs I grow.
                                         




.


Once dried, I ordinarily put the mint into canning jars and then place them in a dark area of my basement.  Any light will degrade the quality of  your herbs, so that is why it is best to keep them in a dark area.  The dried mint offers a nice soothing cup of tea in the                                                 
fall and winter, and can be used to make mint sauces in the cold time of the year.  Just keep them in a loosely woven bag while making the sauce so that when the herbs are stewing with your sauce they won't leave behind any leaves.
Fresh mint offers a very refreshing respite on hot days in the summer.  Here are a few nice recipes for light, cool accompaniments to your summer fare.

Sweet-Tart Fresh Mint Sauce

Yield: Makes about two-thirds cup and doubles easily.
This sauce, without the mint, holds for 2 days in the fridge, but should be used at room temperature. The mint goes in at the last moment to keep its bright green color and fresh taste.
Use sauce hot or cold for seafood and chicken, and vegetable
Ingredients
  • 1/2 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional) (I dried cayenne pepper a few years ago and I use that)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons white wine or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh spearmint leaves, thin sliced
Instructions
  • 1.In a medium bowl stir together the minced onion, garlic, sugar, pepper flakes if using, and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 20 minutes, then whisk in the oil.
  • 2.Just before serving, stir in the chopped mint

This sauce is great for mint coleslaw, and also is terrific tossed into cauliflower. Try grilling some chicken and drizzling the sauce on the chicken. I am not much for seafood, but from what I know about seafood, it would most likely be an excellent addition to shrimp and scallops.

 Mint Sun Tea
Another great way to use your mint is to make mint sun tea. If you haven't ever made sun tea, you basically put in about 1 or 2 cups of fresh mint leaves into a gallon of water. I use the large canning jars. Set in the sun for about 3 hours, check to see if it seems strong enough, then remove the mint leaves and chill. You can add sugar if you like, or lemon for a different taste. This is wonderful on a hot, humid day when you are looking for something really refreshing.


Another recipe for mint is creating a nice sweet mint sauce to be used in fruit salad, or as a topping to honeydew melon or cantaloupe.

Fresh Fruit With Lemon-Mint Sauce

Prep: 20 min., Chill: 2 hrs. Oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are packed with vitamin C, the antioxidant that helps boost the immune system, fight infection, and protect the body against influenza. Serve this refreshing dish after a meal for a light dessert, enjoy it as a snack, or try it for breakfast.

Ingredients
  • 3 large oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 large red grapefruits, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 (6-ounce) container low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprigs
Preparation
  • Place first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, gently tossing to combine. Cover and chill 2 hours.
  • Stir together yogurt and next 3 ingredients just before serving, and serve with fruit mixture. Garnish, if desired

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