The colours of fall represent that special time at Covert Farms when all of our fields are in full production. With all the abundance of vegetables available, the fall is time for us to preserve the bounty of the fields.
In our preservation kitchen we have started crocks of chilies and pickling cucumbers beginning the slow process of natural lactic fermentation. By using a non-ferrous ceramic crock we encourage the fermentation process, which is entirely dependent on the naturally occurring Lactobacillus bacteria that normally cover the skin of a growing cucumber. Since these are routinely removed during commercial harvesting/packing processes, traditionally prepared pickles can only be made from freshly harvested cucumbers. Preferably Covert Farms cucumbers! Once we sterilize our crocks we add the freshly harvested cucumbers, garlic, dill, and grape leaves. Grapes leaves increase tannins and allow the pickling cucumbers to remain crisp and crunchy after they finish fermentation. When all the ingredients are in place we cover the pickling cukes with salt brine and submerge them by placing a sterilized plate on top of the cukes. This creates an anaerobic environment that allows the souring to take place while the bacteria on the skins of the cucumbers produce lactic acid. This lactic acid is what creates that amazing sour taste that we love so much. We monitor it daily and skim any fuzzy mold on top until we have reached the perfect souring balance, at which time we refrigerate the now pickles to enjoy all winter. The key is tasting often and watching for the colour change as the cucumbers go from bright green to the duller green that signals a good pickle. With pickles on the go along with chilies and sauerkraut bubbling away, we turn our eyes to livestock.
With temperatures falling and winemaking starting to come under control we take advantage of colder temperatures and fat animals to plan our livestock harvest. Our Berkshire pigs will be broken down into breakfast sausage, chorizo sausage, paté, air dried hams, and standard cuts. Our lambs will turn into merguez sausage, chipolata sausage, and everything from legs, to chops. Our Highland cattle will be spared again this year, as our herd isn’t mature enough. However, two large bulls will be making a short visit from Enderby before being dispatched for our freezers. I’m looking forward to trying some liverwurst this year with both deer and beef liver and making a larger batch of Bresaola. Bresaola was a success from last year’s harvest having taken the “eye of round” from Taco Bill and Black Cherry, our two bulls, and soaking them in Covert Farms Family Estate’s Amicitia Red 2010 before rubbing them in spices and air drying them for three months. This was an experiment worth repeating. Good luck for all your own preserving needs this fall and think of Covert Farms when you sterilize those jars!
Join Chef Derek at the Okanagan College this fall at his workshop on ”Sausage & Sauerkraut” through the Food Wine Farm Workshop Series. Date is Sunday November 16 from 1-3 $49 plus materials/tax. Go to: www.okanagan.bc.ca to read about all of the workshops offered and to register or call 250-492-4305.