Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Harvesting Potatoes

Harvesting Potatoes
and cooking potatoes too.

This week's video reflects back to the day we planted the potatoes (notice my son is planting them), we show the harvesting of the potatoes, demonstrate a recipe using our potatoes and enter some potatoes at the fair. See how things turned out. 

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 springs rosemary
garlic powder or granulated garlic
Kosher salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 425ยบ.
Pour oil into a 10"x 13" pan.
Wash potatoes and slice them into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the pan.
Pull the leaves off the rosemary stems and sprinkle them over the potatoes.
Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, pepper, and garlic.
Stir potatoes, making sure to coat all of them with oil.
Put the pan in the hot oven and cook for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft. Stir potatoes again before serving.

Potatoes are a high starch, cheap food. But, as far as I am concerned, they are essential on the homestead. A five pound bag of potatoes could cost as little as $1.69 (August 8-15, 2012; Albertson's Flyer; Price with Preferred Savings Card). The question is: Why would anyone in their right mind grow their own potatoes if you can buy 5 pounds for a buck-seventy? Heck, I may have only gotten 100-150 pounds of potatoes and will likely only eat 50 pounds during the season and from what I can preserve (some will suffer spoilage and some will be given away). That works out to about $85.00 for all that hard work in preparing the soil, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and storage.

Rumors have it that potato farmers will not even eat their own potatoes (rumors; not validated ( I wondered why. Here's a web site that may demonstrate some of the farming practices in growing and harvesting potatoes: 

I am not being critical only to the farmer; consumer responsibility comes into play here as well. Think about it: 5 pounds of potatoes for a dollar and sixty-nine cents. In the same ad where I discovered this deal on potatoes, Albertson's was offering 3-two liter bottles of soda for 4 bucks. Consumers are not willing to pay for good food. We want food that looks good and "seems" good and is CHEAP. After all, Endothall is an organic solid of white odorless crystals. If we don't know it's in there, then it can't hurt us, right?

The problem for me is: In order to create a potato that is marketable to the general consumer, it must look a certain way, it must be a certain size, it can't have blemishes, it can't have protrusions and be grown together with other potatoes and the like. Farmers want to harvest potatoes on their schedule and beat the fall moisture that will cause all kinds of problems. So, they soak the potatoes in herbicides to kill off that which is above the ground.  

According to Dr. Holly Menninger, NY Invasive Species Research Institute (, "The use of any aquatic herbicide poses risks to non-target plants and aquatic organisms." She does throw a "but" in there, but (there's mine), that just does not sit well with me. I chose to grow my own. 


Hope you enjoyed the video.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fermenting Pickles

Fermenting Pickles

How to Ferment Cucumbers

If you like dill pickles, you love this recipe. This episode of Back to the Homestead starts out with a short demo of what wild fires in Southwestern Idaho can look like...a small one...but nonetheless a wild fire (as seen from the homestead).

Then we discuss how to ferment cucumbers by using lacto fermentation. We'll take the fermentation process from harvesting from the garden to the week after the process has started and the taste test.


Small and medium cucumbers with no blemishes
Peppers (Mild, Medium or Hot)
Dill (or Dill Seed)

Brine: 1 gallon of water to 12 tablespoons (not teaspoons) of sea salt (or kosher salt).