900 Gallons of Kraut - Fall 2016

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900 Gallons of Kraut - Fall 2016

It's actually been a year since we first started to have to process very large quantities of vegetables two times a year - once in Spring and once in Fall - to capture the seasonal produce available in our area. We put away our main ferments (Old timer, Curtido, Kimchi) twice a year so only now do we have a chance to change up our recipe, sourcing, textures, temperatures from the product we are STILL selling from June 2016. So now that we are in Fall 2016, we are really excited to have a better grounding, some more knowledge under our belts, and better equipment and storage like temperature control, better fridge, and different textures of Robot Coupe blades to make a better product. We also just have a different handle on ingredients, their profiles depending on time of year, or who to source the best produce from. It's all really exciting!

The Farm at Windy Hill just a mile from our kitchen is growing us multiple tons of carrots, beets and cabbage.

The Farm at Windy Hill just a mile from our kitchen is growing us multiple tons of carrots, beets and cabbage.

We always make our core three fermented vegetables but we also make small batch ferments throughout the year based on seasonal abundance to explore different fermentation techniques,, to remain in contact with how much we enjoy fermenting vegetables in the midst of constant marketing and deliveries and to keep our customers engaged with new flavors.

We are purchasing vegetables from growers in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia this Winter. We'll be putting away 12,000-14,000lbs of produce over the next month to two months that we will sell through May 15th, 2017. That will bring our 2016 totals of local vegetables sourcing to nearly 25,000lbs. We will be storing nearly 900 gallons of veggies from 14,000lbs of vegetables.

Cleaning blade, replacing blades for industrial food processor to make sure all goes smoothly.

Cleaning blade, replacing blades for industrial food processor to make sure all goes smoothly.

 

This Fall 2016 Processing goals are: 

1. Do not get exhausted, exhaustion equals short cuts and short cuts equal only decent ferments at best.

2. Pay folks to come help get it DONE because duh.

3. More notes, more details, more temperature control, more notes, more notes. More notes. 

4. Make the best ferments we've ever made. This includes better texture via new Robot Coupe blades. It also includes better control of temperatures with installation of mini splits on temperature read outs in each kitchen. 

5. Don't run out of cooler space (always a problem) like we did in Spring 2016 and get the ferments in the fridge at the specified times we've designated for each Kraut (i.e. Old Timer is 5 weeks, Kimchi is 4 days) Luckily, we have a new, very large 27' Walk-in cooler for storage now. We also will keep our kitchen at 65 degrees for barrel aging. 

6. Lindsay has been hard at work setting up an effective compost system for the huge amount of vegetable scrap we have. Thus far, we get Mildreds Meadows to pick up our uncooked scraps to feed their pigs. Convert it to pork... 

It'll be fun. Ann Keener helps us so much. Joe does too and he's a local dude. We just want to keep getting better and better at this. Thanks for your support of Harvest Roots and we look forward to you eating this kraut. 

- Pete Halupka

 

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Harvest Roots Forages Their Kombucha

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Harvest Roots Forages Their Kombucha

 I was a 20-something west bound type. Weird to say it all is starting to blur together already. But it was a significant time, me in Oregon on my youthful voyage. I ended up on a farm named Myrtle Glen east of Coos Bay. It is an impressive, awe inspiring place that still sticks with me today. 

American Persimmons Fall 2014, N. Alabama

American Persimmons Fall 2014, N. Alabama

I weeded chard, harvested kale too low on the stalk (like a cabbage), harvested strawberries - the whole sha-bang. But I vividly remember my relationship to plants that existed without my labor. I was ingesting Samual Thayer's Nature's Harvest. Sorrel tasted like warheads in the woods. Mullein looked like that plant mom had in her yard and "Cowboy toilet paper". Dandelion needed way less maintenance than swiss chard. I began to make entire salads for our big farm dinners entirely of foraged components. 

Elderflower in my mother's yard. We've decided to stop fighting the birds for the berries and instead ferment the blossoms with rose for kombucha.

Elderflower in my mother's yard. We've decided to stop fighting the birds for the berries and instead ferment the blossoms with rose for kombucha.

I have this thing where I like to eat. The freer and wilder the better, hence my passion about foraging. It's like a big, little secret, a communique with few listeners (though I hate exclusivity and like free knowledge therefore...). In fact, just yesterday I was helping our older friends purchase an RV. The salesperson and I walked back to the store side by side shooting the shit. Yaupon holly graced either side of the door we were about to walk in to. I had heard he was a salesman in training so I said, "Hey bud, see this plant? Here is one you can strike up a conversation with..." But seriously, I don't like that people don't want those apples like I do. Demystify. 

"Urban" apple our friend Lucy turned us onto that bore more apples than any apple I've seen growing south of Virginia. Incredible astringent, medium sugar, no tannins, great for vinegar. Pressed two gallons of cider. Amazing storage apple. They were harvested in September and are still viable in our compost pile. 

"Urban" apple our friend Lucy turned us onto that bore more apples than any apple I've seen growing south of Virginia. Incredible astringent, medium sugar, no tannins, great for vinegar. Pressed two gallons of cider. Amazing storage apple. They were harvested in September and are still viable in our compost pile. 

Fenceline seedlings for Wild Apple Kombucha

Fenceline seedlings for Wild Apple Kombucha

It's important that this plum has disease free fruit. Like, I haven't ever seen a healthy fruiting plum in the Deep South. Let me know if you have via email. We made Mountain Plum and Sage after harvesting 25-26lbs of this fruit off of two medium sized trees in Cloudland, Georgia. (Zone 6b/7a)

It's important that this plum has disease free fruit. Like, I haven't ever seen a healthy fruiting plum in the Deep South. Let me know if you have via email. We made Mountain Plum and Sage after harvesting 25-26lbs of this fruit off of two medium sized trees in Cloudland, Georgia. (Zone 6b/7a)

Speaking from a personal perspective (Pete), I feel like kombucha is a really great, rather simply maintained culture that is a great vehicle for experiments. We aren't super into delineating labor and tasks for some reason but Lindsay definitely taught me how to make kombucha and, full disclosure, she heads up the fermenting of our kombucha for the most part. I usually dream up the recipes and sourcing based on season though that is not 100% of the time. I forage for kombucha because it employs these principles of terroir and wildness into a beverage where that is rarely navigated. I like to forage kombucha because it can be challenging to our audience, because I don't want to make things like other people. 

Being an aquarius, I tend to want to add to a dialogue. If kombucha has a dialogue, my contribution is foraging eccentric, wild, abundant medicinal herbs and fruits. Not only do we make a ferment from these wild candidates, as fruit explorers we also hunt along the way, considering all plants and fruits and herbs for selection into our own orchard and/or garden. We will continue to collect wild genetics for propagation.

Sidenote: My ethereal, spiritual sentiment (Remember? I'm 20-something) is that that Diospyrus Virginiana tastes, looks and is so bountiful because of exactly where it germinated. Yes, that specimen could be further propagated. Yes, we do that. Yes, we will continue to do that (duh). But I'm speaking more of the magic of that wild apple seed in that particular location that chose to germinate. If I had a religion, it would be either bees or this genetic roll of the dice I'm speaking about. 

When I say this last part, I want you to think about a dialogue. This dialogue has me and Lindsay and our business and our customers - that's all who is there. It's a performance -  Why in the hell would we make boring kombucha?  

 

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