So I’m up in Sonoma now for most of the week, punching down, taking readings and holding down the fort. Which leaves me with me a lot of time for contemplating nature and cooking. So high on the list is to make another batch of Tomato Marmalade given the great reception it’s getting. Then there is the ever present critter population which has shifted as we go into wine-making overdrive. Trust me, I will tie these two themes together at some point.
First the marmalade: after multiple readers advised me to get a Microplane Zester, I went straight down to The Sign of the Bear, Sonoma’s gourmet cooking store, to claim one. Good news: it does make zesting easy and fast. Bad news: it doesn’t cut the zest in strips. And strips are what you expect in marmalade. So I found myself back with my trusty peeler and knife.
The interesting thing about making a second batch of tomato marmalade was that the second five pounds of tomatoes I harvested weren’t like the others. They are smaller and sweeter. Then the available oranges were much smaller than those I found last week. So I ended up adding two instead of one. It’s sort of like making Rhone style wines. You are always adjusting to compensate for the characteristics of the wine that particular season. (And this season, we have a lot to compensate for. The cooler than normal season has caused our grapes to ripen so slowly, they can’t keep up with the natural drop in acid.)
Which brings me in a roundabout way to Biodynamic practices. The core of the system is to create a closed loop. Nothing leaves the farm, nothing is brought into the farm. Everything is recycled.
Okay, we don’t have livestock for manure, but I’m trying to do my bit. As I skin tomatoes for marmalade, I’m throwing the cores and peelings down the hill where the critters can get them. Similarly, when we harvested the Cinsault last week, we tossed the shriveled bunches on the ground for the foxes. Then we dumped the stems from the crusher/destemmer over the hill for the deer. So far, it seems that “recycling” is working. In fact, every time I go to the crush pad to punch down, there are at least three deer hanging around in hopes that I’ll throw more skins and stems out for them.
Judging from the poo I’m seeing, everyone is enjoying tomatoes and grapes these days.
But hold on. Someone else has shown up to enjoy tomatoes and grapes.
Okay, I lied. I can’t really tie tomato marmalade and poo together in any meaningful way. But hey, Circle of Life, my friend. It’s all about adjusting and recycling. And that’s the most profound thing I have to say today.
I didn’t think about the strips needed to marmalade, yeah you are out of luck. Frost hit here so I picked all the green tomatoes & am trying green tomato jam, we’ll see. It might all end in the compost bin too.
I have an actual tool called a “lemon zester”. It’s a cross between a microplane and a veggie peeler. It does do long strips – not quite as wide as what you’ve got pictured here – it only has 4 or 5 holes. Go google oxo lemon zester – and see what I mean.
Mine’s not an oxo, but I <3 it so much it travels with my chef's knife when I go on cooking assignments. (aka visits to friends and family)
that’s some impressive poo — but now I’m in even less of a mood for tomato marmalade!
You’re a crack up. Clearly, you did not study the sciences in school or you would know to place something in your photo that has a consistant size to use for scale – like a coin or pen. That stick could be the size of a javelin. If that’s the case, I don’t want to come across the varmint that laid down that log!
Sorry the microplane didn’t work out for you. Treat yourself to some parmesan cheese from your local shop. That microplane will be one of the handiest tools in your kitchen.
Where else but your blog can we go from vineyard, to gourmet food shop in Sonoma, to the kitchen, and then examining poo? AND it all ties together so neatly! Thanks for taking the time to be so descriptive and educate us.
I used the same stick for both photos. Since I had hiked up, I didn’t have too much handy. I considered putting my iPhone down. But whatever beasties left these “presents” had also sprinkled the ground around them. I didn’t really need a deer repellant iPhone. I tried to encourage Oscar to put his paw down for size, but the area was so stinky, even he wouldn’t cooperate. And this is a dog that eats carrion.
Oh. Fox POO.
I thought this was about my least-favorite database. 🙂