Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ube - Purple Yams

Ube (Dioscorea alata) - these were a gift from a fellow fruit grower who spent time in the Philippines. Ube is in the same family as the invasive air potato, so we have been growing them in large pots. Pots are a great way to grow yams and potatoes here in Florida. The pots help prevent pest damage and make harvesting very easy.

The key to keeping the deep purple color is boiling the yams with the skin intact. Most of the color is just below the skin.

Yams must be cooked before eating! Boil the ube for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and peel off brown skin with the edge of a knife blade - scraping the skin off.

I use a food processor to pure the ube...isn't the color beautiful? I save some of the deep purple cooking liquid to add to my recipes for extra color.

 Next, I made Ube Halaya. This is a sweet Ube jam used in many recipes. It can be added to smoothies, ice cream, cakes, and cookies.

Easy Ube Halaya Recipe

4-6 cups cooked/pureed Ube
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

  1. Melt Butter
  2. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix well over medium heat
  3. Add evaporated milk and vanilla if desired. Continue stirring.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add Ube a little at a time. Continue stirring. After about 15 minutes, your arm will be very sore, but you must keep stirring for at least 40 minutes until very sticky. 
The Halaya can be stored in the refrigerator to use in recipes, or molded into a buttered dish to enjoy as is. 

Ube Cookie Recipe

1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ube halaya (see recipe above)
  • 1-2 T ube cooking liquid (strained)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (for coating)

    1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt.
    2. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar, then add egg. 
    3. Mix in halaya and cooking liquid if desired. Mix wet and dry ingredients together.
    4. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight. 
    5. I use a small melon scoop to size cookie dough balls. Roll and coat in powdered sugar.
    6. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

    Friday, October 3, 2014

    Tropical Vegetables

    Katuk - 

    Sauropus androgynus

    One of the most popular leaf vegetables in Asian countries, katuk is high is vitamins, minerals, and protein. Also known as sweet leaf and star gooseberry, it is often used in stir fry and soups containing seafood. In addition, it is very good cooked with eggs.

    Okinawa Spinach -

    Gynura bicolor

    Rich in iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamin A, okinawa spinach not only makes a gorgeous fresh salad, but also tastes wonderful. In Asia, it is paired with ginger and sesame oil in stir fry

    Growing both plants will provide families with year round salad greens in hot climates. 
    We sell both plants and leaves of both species. 

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Inga - Ice Cream Bean

    Inga Edulis - Guaba (as it is known in Ecuador)
    This is one of my favorite fruits. The light, fluffy pulp that surrounds each seed is sweet and airy...more like cotton candy than ice cream. 

    This is a variety I received that was being grown in California. I am not sure if this is Inga feuilleei or another Inga sp. The fruits are much smaller and the skin is thicker than Inga edulis but the pulp tastes very similar. 

    Fruit can be refrigerated to make it last longer. Seeds from refrigerated fruits are still viable, however, seeds must be planted as soon as possible after being removed from the fruit pulp. 

    The smaller size makes it easy for a single person to eat. The longer fruits in Ecuador required a few people to finish. 

    We currently have many seedlings available for sale.

    Friday, August 29, 2014

    Naranjilla - Lulo: Juice Recipe

    Naranjilla is a fruit grown in South America. It is called naranjilla in Ecuador and Lulo in Columbia. There are two varieties that I have grown. One has leaves covered in spines, but fairly clean fruit. The other has spineless leaves, however the fruits are covered in brown fuzz. Regardless of which variety you grow, the fruits should be washed and the stems removed prior to using the fruit.

    This is what the spiny leaf fruit variety looks like when cut open. 

    I squeeze the pulp and seeds into a bowl...

    The pulp is then mixed with equal parts water, blended well, and strained. The seeds generally do not break apart when blending and are easily strained. 

    Sugar will need to be added as the juice is quite tart. Naranjilla juice has a nice, semi thick quality and an unusually delightful flavor. It also makes an excellent shaved ice flavoring. This is made by first making a simple syrup by boiling 2x sugar to 1x water, then adding the strained pulp. 

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Fresh Batch of Local, Raw Honey Available

    Local Raw Honey
    for sale
    Sarasota, Florida

    Each jar of pure, raw, unfiltered 100% honey comes with a heart shaped piece of beeswax from our hives. 

    Our most recent honey was pulled June 2014. We currently have quarts and pints available.

    Our bees feed on a wide variety of flowers including bananas, passion flower, lychee, avocado, mango, pumpkin, Brazilian pepper, and many others. Our honey is always stored in glass.

    Our 5 hives are managed with only non-chemical practices. We created a cement base to prevent hive beetle reproduction and have a water mote around the base to prevent fire ants. Our honey is 100% raw and is never heated or filtered ~ there will be a thin layer of beeswax and pollen. Consuming raw honey with pollen can help those who suffer from pollen related allergies. 

    Raw Honey for Pickup

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    Mallika Mango

     The Mallika Mango is a wonderful choice for Florida backyard growers.

    It is a semi-dwarf, Indian dessert variety that is a hybrid between Neelum and Dasheri. We planted this particular tree last year and it has been one of the best producers. Mallika is also disease resistant and considered one of the best tasting mangos.

     Mallika mangos are typically picked mature green.

    It is very east to tell when they are ready - simply cup the mango with your hand and lift gently until the mango is lifted no more than 45 degrees. If it is ready, it will break from the stem (former panicle) into your hand. A clear sap will ooze from the attachment.

    Now, it is time to place the green mango into a cardboard box or better yet, a paper bag inside a cardboard box. Ripening can take 10-21 days. Fruit can be refrigerated once ripe/yellow. The flesh is a beautiful deep orange - sweet, aromatic, and fiberless.

    A Mallika Mango tree is a great mango for backyard growers, and is small enough to be kept potted for those without yard space.

    Saturday, May 31, 2014

    Sapodilla - Ice Cream Recipe

    Sapodilla is a fruit that grows well in SW Florida. The trees are attractive and can produce many fruit. 
    They are tolerant of poor soils and periods of draught, though providing them with irrigation during the dry season can help with increased fruit production. 

    The bark contains a white sap called chicle that has been used as a base for chewing gum. 

    The flavor is a bit like brown sugar and the texture a bit like a ripe pear.  Sapodilla can be eaten out of hand, but it makes an even better milkshake or ice cream. 

    To use in recipes, remove skin and seeds and then puree. 

    Sapodilla Ice Cream (no egg, no cook)

    3/4 cup heavy cream
    3 cups milk
    pulp from 5 small sapodilla - about 1-1/3 cups
    1 cup cane sugar

    Blend all ingredients well. Process in ice cream maker. After processing, you can put in the freezer for a firmer ice cream.


    Sideroxylon foetidissimum is a related tree that is native to FL. The taste reminds me of canistel mixed with sapodilla with a hint of cantaloupe. It contains quite a bit of latex. 

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    Seco de Pollo - Ecuadorian Chicken Dish

    One of my favorite meals from Ecuador is Seco de Pollo. Seco means "dry", but this dish is anything but dry. My friend, Maria Isabel, taught me how to make the recipe in the Pastaza province of Ecuador. Here in Florida, it is the perfect dish to make March - May because just about all of the ingredients can be grown in the garden and picked right before eating. 

    We were able to make dinner for six for about $1 (15 cents per person!) Most of the ingredients are grown on our farm, including the pastured chicken. 

    Seco de Pollo

    2 tomatoes
    1 purple onion
    2 carrots
    2 green peppers
    2 T Aliño
    Fresh cilantro
    1 T mustard
    1 tsp. cumin
    1 T. achiote paste ( or 2 tsp. annatto powder)
    2-3 T. oil

    Vine ripened tomatoes are a must! 

    Preparing all of the food before cooking is very important, as this will make the dish very easy to prepare. It is made in one pot, making for easy cleanup. Dice the onion,  carrots,  tomatoes and bell peppers. 

    You will also need to chop a handful of cilantro (or more :) and have some aliño on hand along with minced garlic.

    I put about 2 Tablespoons of sunflower seed oil in a large pan. 

    Cook the onions, peppers, carrots, garlic, and then add the tomatoes. 

    Next, add 2 tsp or more of cumin, 1 tsp of annatto, 3 T of alino seasoning, and salt to taste. 

    Next, add chicken pieces (I prefer to use dark meat for this dish). The chicken is from our own pastured chickens. 

    add the cilantro and cover for 45 minutes. 

    We serve this with white rice. You can also omit the chicken and add black beans or another protein. The vegetable mix is excellent alone on rice as well. 

    Ecuadorian Rice

    2 cups rice (rinsed well)
    3 cups water
    1 T. oil
    1 T. chopped purple onion (optional)
    salt to taste
    Add all ingredients to a pot on the stove top set to medium/high. Place lid so that it is offset a bit. Bring to a boil. Boil until water is just above rice. At that point, place lid on securely and set to low. Cook for 20 minutes. 

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    May Harvest Face

    So far this month, we have harvested Seminole pumpkins, tomatoes, bell peppers, italian peppers, ginger, garlic, and carrots. 

    We have passion fruit, mangos, lychee, longans, bananas, pineapples and melons growing larger each day outside along with lots of herbs and more garlic. Green bean and Hawaiian corn plants are growing well. We also have our first naranjilla (Lulo) fruits growing.  We had to hand pollinate the flowers using a small sable hair paintbrush. 

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Beeswax / Coconut Oil Polish

    With each jar of honey, we give a small heart of wax from our bees. Beeswax can be used in making lip balm, candles, and much more. My favorite use is making polish.

    Beeswax Polish Recipe

    1 part beeswax
    3 parts coconut oil

    Melt beeswax in a pot or double boiler. Once melted, add oil and mix. Pour into glass jar and allow to cool. You can also melt directly in the glass jar in the microwave. We have a special pot we use for melting beeswax and our stove top has a melt setting that works perfectly. We have had one batch for two years now and it still works and smells great.

    This polish is great for wooden spoons and bowls, wood furniture, and leather...and also for polishing rocks and seashells. It can also be used to soften dry skin.

    Below are rocks we brought back from Ecuador. Look at the different after applying some polish! It makes them look like they did when we found them wet in the river.



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