The potager shed

The potager shed

Hi.

Welcome to my blog. This is just my personal garden and food diary. I’m a flexitarian, vegetarian at home, but more flexible when with friends. I’m trying to grow our own food so we leave a lighter footprint on this precious planet.

Over the past six years I have been transforming a one acre former vineyard on a steep hill into a garden. There are distinct areas; an 80m2 vegetable garden, a small orchard, a pond and a sunken path flanked by two long mixed borders.

We are in a small hamlet near Faugères in the Occitanie (formerly Languedoc) region of France. Our soil is rocky schist. Summer temperatures can reach 40℃ and in winter sink as low as -10℃. Water comes rarely but is diluvial when it does.

Lizzie

Dry, dry, dry

Dry, dry, dry

As if this summer hasn’t been dry enough, the lovely Ali bought me a dehydrator for my birthday! Actually, I couldn’t be more thrilled. The freezer is exploding with veg-herds pies, soups & sauces. The cupboards in my office are full of pickles and chutneys. So the logical next progression is to dehydrate some of our produce so that it will keep its flavour and take up a lot less space.

The machine arrived from Germany yesterday morning. It’s a Karstein 10 shelf professional model. Within a very short time it was running in the garage, loaded with sliced limes, lemons, oranges, makrut lime leaves and figs.

Figs waiting to go into the dehydrator

I can see that you have to be as patient as Job since almost nothing dries in under six hours and most things take much, much longer. However, gardening needs a ton of patience too, so it shouldn’t be impossible. The trick will be to stop sampling too much the produce each time I check to see if it’s crisp yet.

After around 10 hours the citrus and figs seem to be dry, so now they are in jars. I can’t imagine they’ll last too long as I’m already thinking up ways to sparkle up recipes with delicious citrus. I’m keen to see if we can stop wasting that second half of a lemon once the G&Ts are made. Tonight we’re sampling Australian Giniversity Gin from Margaret River, with Schweppes Indian tonic and our own dehydrated lemon slice - from a garden lemon. The flavour of the citrus is much more intense. I think it will become a favourite.

As some of the makrut lime leaves crumbled I ground them in a mortar so we have some highly fragrant lime powder to add to winter curries.

Makrut lime leaf powder.

Makrut lime leaf powder.

I use lots of figs in the making of the kefir we have with breakfast each morning, so those won’t last too long. Although we have three fig trees in the garden and another that overhangs our fence, not one of them produces any figs. We’ll have to find a wild tree.

Now the dehydrator is busy making apple leather, using some of the apples I picked a couple of weeks ago, a little cinnamon and some honey from our bees in Valencia. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile the shelves are filling up and there is still plenty coming out of the potager. I think I’ll be drying tomatoes, kale and herbs next, then I have some mangoes and a pineapple that I want to turn into both chutney and delicious dried snacks. It’s going to be a tasty winter.

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Sometimes I look at the worktop and see a stack of vegetables that need to be used. It fills me with joy and I hate to waste anything, so this new machine is going to be a boon. Thanks Ali.

OK, what shall we cook?

OK, what shall we cook?

Brunch in the potager

Brunch in the potager

Cour-bhaji

Cour-bhaji