About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Spud harvest

At some point when I was looking the other way, my potatoes got blight.

The dead stems of the King Edwards are there, in amongst the weeds, if you look closely enough

We had a spell of cold, wet weather, which probably encouraged it, and I don't suppose those weeds helped, either.

Still, all is not lost. I dug up three bucket-fulls of spuds. I haven't weighed them all yet to see how this compares with previous years, but I think it's quite a bit down. Still, it's a lot to process all in one go. Why bother processing? I usually just put them in sacks in the store room. You see, the thing with blight is that if it's infected the tubers - and with that rain it's sure to have washed onto them - they rot in storage. I found a few rotten tubers in the ground, but most were fine. The only sign of blight was tiny brown spots, in some cases only visible when I peeled the potatoes. They're perfectly good for eating now, just not for storing.

You can't see the blight, but I know it's in there

If I want these to last, I need to do something with them. I have plenty of freezer space, so that's the obvious option, but raw potatoes don't freeze well. That it, they freeze just fine, but then go black and slimy when you thaw them, which is less than appetizing. They need to be at least par-boiled if they're to be frozen and thawed to an edible state. I thought I'd go a little further. If I'm bothering to wash, peel, chop and par-boil three buckets of spuds, I could put in just a little more effort so that I have something ready to put straight in the oven (or possibly microwave) when it comes out of the freezer.

We usually eat potatoes in three forms: Mashed, roasted, or chips (fries). I've been making frozen chips for several years, having figured out how to do it in response to a previous blight incident. I hear that mashed potatoes freeze well, so I boiled them up in large batches and deployed a new kitchen gadget for mashing them, of which more in another post. As for roasties, well if Aunt Bessie can do it, surely I can too? I usually par-boil them then roast in oil in the oven. For freezing, I par-boiled then applied the hot oil in the frying pan.

Trial batch of to-be-frozen roast potatoes

I tested the theory with a small batch of King Edwards, which cooked from frozen in about half an hour and were pretty good - perhaps a little dry, but we usually have gravy with a roast dinner, so that's not really a problem. I'm not sure whether the Desiree will be as good - they seemed less crisp when cool, as they went into the freezer, but hopefully they'll crisp up again when cooked.

This is a work in progress. I tried bracing myself to do the whole lot at once, but it seems that I don't have sufficient stamina for the job. With all that hot oil and fat, it takes a lot of concentration. This is tiring! Also, with the harvest moon this week, I've been harvesting other veg too. The stock of frozen peas and green beans is increasing, and I cut my first ever cob of sweetcorn.

First sweetcorn

Hm, not quite what I'd hoped for, but better than it might have been, and it was tasty.

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