Washington State has had one of the hottest summers on record. So little rain that lawns have gone brown, many trees have lost their leaves and homeowners are paying record high water bills. Even with the use of seven rain barrels holding 455 gallons of water and the use of soaker hoses on my mini orchard and lavender garden, my bill still was extremely high. But, the rain has finally come via a storm boasting 50 mile wind gusts! Every last small farm around hurried to get ripe fruits off the vine or tree before the storm hit. That meant grape harvest for me (and a few figs).
|Even chick-chick helped with the harvest!|
With the dry weather the berries were quite small but in the last two weeks had turned translucent and sweet. Chick-Chick had gorged on the lower hanging fruit by hopping up, wings flapping until she had eaten every berry within four feet of the ground! Other birds had taken their toll too but there were still enough clusters to fill a basket - more than we could possibly eat within a week when their freshness would start to wane. So, what to do? Make raisins!
Drying fruit is quite simple especially if you have a convection oven like mine or a fruit dryer. You can use a conventional oven but you'll need to prop the door open for better air circulation.
To make raisins first you'll need to blanch the fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds and then drop into an ice water bath. This will split the skins to aid in faster drying. Just drop the entire cluster into the boiling water. Remove the stems after the ice bath. Place the berries onto a parchment lined baking sheet and place in a 180° oven for up to 24 hours. Take note that smaller berries will take less time. I left mine for 12 hours and that was just a touch too long and some were crispy - whoops!
Sunday morning usually means steel cut oatmeal around our house and this week that meant fresh homemade raisins to go with it. I roasted honey-drenched peaches and some figs to top it off!
|Drizzle with honey and roast sliced fresh peaches at 375°|
|You may need to broil figs to speed browning|
Homegrown and healthy foods. Garden to Table, an epicurean's delight!
What have you been cooking lately?