We are fully in the throes of winter here on the farm. We have been serving dinner at the 'Chef's Table' and are excited to share food in the context of the farm's winter identity. In the summer, our meals involve produce that has been harvested within a day of the event, capturing the characteristics of freshness that can only be found in fruits and vegetables that are allowed to ripen on the vine to the height of their quality. During the colder months we shift our focus to food that we have saved from the summer for use during the winter. One of the ways in which we preserve food is by using our root cellar (pictured). We were visited by master stonemasons who laid the stone for the root cellar, and now we are able to store things within, where the temperature is mitigated by the warmth of the Earth beneath and insulated by the soil above. Items we have been keeping in the root cellar this winter include many types of squash, onions, garlic, potatoes, apples and pears. We are still learning how to optimally keep our vegetables healthy in the root cellar, and also learning which varieties store the best.
Despite the snow, short days, and cold temperatures, we are able to continue growing many things on the farm. Currently we have been serving our spinach, which has been 'sweetened by the frost'. This is a phenomena in which plants release sugars into their cell nuclei to inhibit freezing, and thicken their cellulose cell walls to insulate, resulting in a sweet, crisp vegetable that is unlike anything grown in a more temperate environment. Collard greens and Kale, also hearty winter vegetables, are included in most menus. Our winter citrus is ripe in the greenhouse, allowing us to enjoy Meyer lemons and Mandarin oranges fresh off the tree. Microgreens and edible flowers round out our selection of available freshly harvested products.
We also store by freezing. While 'frozen food' may not evoke thoughts of freshness, we freeze our fruits on the day they're harvested, locking in their optimal flavor and color. Strawberries, raspberries, currants, figs and serviceberries are some of the things we keep in this manner. Additionally, we utilize techniques like canning and preserving in oil to save things like tomatoes, pickles, and applesauce. Dehydrating is also an approach that, when appropriate, results in very long-lasting products.
All of these things together allow us to fulfill our vision of capturing a 'moment in time' on the farm, so that guests can appreciate the seasonality and ephemera of our work. We eagerly hope you can come join us for a meal sometime soon!