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.

Updates for 2014

After a few years of very bad crops, I have left behind the vegetable gardens for awhile. However, I have found that fresh produce is available throughout the summer at the many farmers markets in the area. Here is a list of some of the markets and farms I gather my fresh fruits and vegetables from.

Rockville Farmers Market: Thursdays from 10 to 1 at the courthouse parking lot.

Tolland Farmers Market: Saturdays from 9 to 12 on the green.

Coventry Regional Farmers Market: Sundays from 11 to 2 at the Nathan Hale Homestead on South St.

Wright's Orchard on South River Road in Tolland, CT

Larry Lemeks Berries on Goose Lane in Tolland, CT.

Johnny Appleseeds Peach Orchard on Old Schoolhouse Rd. in Ellington, CT.

Buell Orchards in Eastford, CT.

There are many other farmers markets throughout the state of Connecticut on different days as well as numerous roadside stands. Support your local farmers no matter how small and you will gain in health and well being by eating the freshest of the fresh.

A link to the Connecticut Farmers Markets for 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Apple Harvest Time

 It is the height of apple season in New England.  The orchards are showing a great variety right now.  Nearly any apple you could want you can get for the next week or so.  Columbus Day is usually the peak of apple picking time simply because of the many kinds you can get.
In Tolland, CT., I have already visited our local orchard four times.  I have been making everything from applesauce to fruit leather.  This year I purchased a dehydrator from Nesco,
and it has been used quite a bit already.  It is so new that it takes about half the time to dehydrate as what is recommended.

So far I have dehydrated oregano, cranberries, and of course apples. The apple slices have become one of my favorite snacks to grab.  This morning I had a wonderful fruity oatmeal for breakfast.  It was a great way to start my busy day, which included baking two apple pies, then going apple picking at Wrights Orchard on South River Road.

This year I am going to try baking pies and freezing them.  My sister used to do this every year with my brother, but I figured why bother.  Apples are plentiful any time of year and it is easy enough to bake a pie fresh.  That is so, but it does make it very easy to grab a pie when a party is going on, and warming it rather than having to make it fresh.

My favorite apples for pies always seem to end up being Cortlands.  I do not limit my creations to just one kind of apple, however.  Today's pies were made with Cortland, Empire, and Mutsu apples.  These varieties are more tart than say Macintosh or the favorite eating apple called Delicious.  The apples are also more firm and hold up to baking better.

One of the biggest complaints regarding apples is how they disappear in baking.  The apples do shrink substantially as they bake down, and as the pie cools, alas, the filling seems to shrink even more.  With a harder apple such as Cortland or Empire, the shrinking of your filling isn't as dramatic. The best tip I can give regarding apple pie, is fill that pie up so that the apples are mounded as much as 1-2 inches above the rim of  the pie

I will admit it, I use store bought crusts more often than homemade.  However, they do seem too small for even a regular Pyrex pie plate.  So here is another trick.  Roll out the premade crust a little larger with a rolling pin.  Don't be afraid to do this.  The crust usually does not rip.  Just fold it in half after you roll it, then slip it over your pie plate and unfold.  Gently push the crust into the pie plate so that it is touching the sides, and then you can fill with the apples. 

When my mammoth pie making happens on Sunday for the freezer, I will be using a new recipe for crust that uses lard and vinegar.  I have not used the recipe yet, but I will include it today.  It was my co-worker Lynn that clued me in to using vinegar in pie crust.  It makes the crust not only have a nice
bite to it, but it also makes it flakier.  Lard tends to create a weighty crust, but with the vinegar it seems to lighten it up a little. 

Let's get going with the recipes, now.  I will start with the delicious oatmeal I had, then you can see all the other creations I have been making in this bumper year for apples.

                                                    Fruity Breakfast Oatmeal  

1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Cut Rolled Oats
1 cup water
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1/8 cup dried apple slices
1 Tblsp pomegranate seeds
handful of sliced almonds
2 tsp.maple syrup 

To dehydrate the cranberries, I first placed them in boiling water for about a minute, then I dipped them into ice water.  After drying them on paper towels, I lay a piece of wax paper onto one of my dehydrater trays, then lay the cranberries in a single layer on the wax paper and ran the dehydrater for about 7 hours at 135 degrees fahrenheit. You can also make it easy on yourself and just buy craisins, though they are made with sugar.  Most dried cranberries are made with sugar, so in order to just get unsweetened cranberries I have to dehydrate them myself.  

To dehydrate the apples, I wash and scrub the apples, then cut in half.  I then slice them about 1/4 inch thick, and remove the seeds from the slices that have them.  I don't peel or core the apple first.  Instead I simply cut that part out to create my apple "smile" slice. I then place the slices onto the dehydrating trays in a single layer and then dehydrate at 140 degrees fahrenheit for about 5-6 hours.  
Once cool I place them into mason jars.  This way, if I see condensation forming inside the jar, I will dehydrate the slices a little longer.  

I leave the peels on the apples because they offer trace minerals and elements that the apple meat doesn't have.  You can buy dried apples, but rarely will you find them with the peel still intact.  So that is why I dehydrate my own. 

To make the oatmeal, using a saucepan put in your oats, then add water.  Take your dry slices of apples and break them into small pieces, then put into the oat mixture.  Simmer until the water is gone, or until it is the consistancy you like, such as more liquidy or more dry.  I find that cooking the oatmeal for about 7 minutes is fine.  The apples will absorb some of the water, so you may want to add a little more to make sure the oatmeal can absorb enough.  

Add your cranberries, your pomegranate seeds  your almonds, and your maple syrup.  If you like it sweeter, than add another tsp of syrup.  I like it less sweet so I might only add 1 tsp.  


                                 Simple Applesauce For Fruit Leather   
 6-8 pounds of mixed apples (Sweet ones are best such as Gala, Macintosh, Delicious, 
                                               Honey crisp, and Mutsu)
1 cup of water

Yep, that's it.  Core your apples but do not peel.  Place them in your largest stockpot, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot.  Do not overfill your stockpot.  I usually fill the pot perhaps 2/3's full.  Heat to boiling, and stir frequently making sure you get down to the bottom and scrape well.  If you don't the sauce will burn but you can still use the top part of the sauce if it does burn.  Usually about 30 minutes is all you need.  When the apples are soft, remove from heat and place them in small batches into a blender or food processor. 

{Don't have either?  Then you will have to do it the hard way.  Mash them and push through a sieve.  That takes a long time and lots of elbow grease.  Invest in the blender or food processor, or even a sauce maker.  It will save you hours of work and save your back from extreme pain and your elbow and wrist from carpel tunnel.)

I use a food processor and put it on puree.  I blend the apples until they are smooth and form a nice applesauce.  The peels will just blend in and add to the nutrition of your applesauce.

Place in sterilized mason jars, seal with metal caps and process in a hot water bath for about 30 minutes for pints and quarts, 25 minutes for 1/2 pints.  

To make the fruit leather, my dehydrator came with a fruit leather insert.  It is shiny and has sides to it.  I have been told to spray the insert with cooking spray, but so far haven't done so.  The thought of eating fruit leather with Pam spray on it seems very unappetizing.

Use one pint of applesauce per each fruit insert.  Level the applesauce to about 1/4 inch, trying to make it as even as possible.  Place in deydrator and run for about 8 hours.  The fruit leather will look like bacon when it is done.  Cut into strips and peel off the insert. If you have some applesauce that hasn't dried thoroughly, just scrape it off the finished leather.  It probably means you didn't level the applesauce well when placing in the dehydrator.  It is okay, better luck next time, and there will be a next time. Place your pieces into a mason jar for storage.  You will find that you can never have enough mason jars.  They come in handy for everything, including leftovers. 

You can add any spices you want before dehydrating the applesauce, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or cloves.  You can even combine your applesauce with pear sauce or other fruits to create your own unique fruit leather.  


                                       Lard Crust With Vinegar

This recipe came from the Food Network.  I have not tried the recipe yet, but will know by Sunday if it works.  I have had very little success with making my own crust.  Blame it on humidity, or too much sun, or not enough sun, or just ineptitude, but when it comes to rolling out the crust, it always tears or doesn't stay together. 

Some tips that I have been told in the past are make sure you chill the crust before working it.  Don't use a lot of flour to roll out.  Use parchment paper or wax paper to keep your crust from sticking to your counter.  This blog entry will be updated with photos of the technique my brother Craig uses.  He makes great crust, so I will learn along with my readers how to successfully roll out pie crust.


  • 1
    Cut lard into the flour.
  • 2
    Add the last three ingredients, mix and form into ball.
  • 3
    Divide into thirds.
  • 4
  • 5
    This will be sticky until you chill it.
  • 6
    Keep unused portion in refrigerator until needed.
  • 7
    Roll each out into a 9" piecrust.
  • 8
    If you are baking single crust bake at 400 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • 9
    If you are making a double crust pie follow directions from the can of fruit.
  • 10
    As you bake your pie, you may want to add foil around the edges so they don't brown to quickly

                                                   Grandma Ople's Apple Pie

  •  This recipe came from All Recipes.  I made this pie today using a Big Y store bought pie crust.  It came out amazingly.  Surprisingly, the pie was not that sweet.  I expected my teeth to fall out when I read the recipe.  I used a mixture of cortland, empire and mutsu apples.  I will share the recipe as it appears, then I will add what I think I will do next time to add my own touches.  Here is the recipe.  



    Original recipe makes 1 - 9 inch pie 
    • PREP
      30 mins
    • COOK
      1 hr
    • READY IN
      1 hr 30 mins


    1. Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
    3. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes

     Now for my changes                

    Substitute Smart Balance buttery spread for  butter.
    2 tsp. Ceylon True cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    substitute 1/8 cup apple cider and 1/8 cup water for the water (I may use only apple cider just to see how it comes out.)
    6-8 mixed apples such as Cortland and Empire, peeled, cored and sliced.


    Well, happy picking and baking.  




    1. Definitely trying this one!

      1. Glad you found it. I will visit yours as well. I love the entire concept of sharing like this. i don't keep the blog regularly because I have other writing projects, but I will be adding an entry next week that focuses on using maple products.