Category Archives: Fruit

Let Us Spray

Time to spray Dormant oil on your fruit trees

Let Us Spray
by Bob Zimmerman

Do you have fruit trees in your yard? Now is the time to give them a good spraying.  Dormant oil spray can be used safely and is a good deterrent on a number of bugs that can attack your trees. It is just mineral oil with a few drops of detergent as an emulsifier. You can purchase mineral oil at the hardware store and is much cheaper than the oil sold at nurseries. It basically works by coating and suffocating the eggs and emerging larvae.  Using a special spray bottle attached to your garden hose, thoroughly drench the fruit trees before the blossoms open.  It is not 100% effective but does help to reduce the incidence of coddling moth larvae in apples, aphids on cherries and peach tree borer. It’s important to soak the bark of these trees for maximum control.

Coddling moth trap

This is a good time to hang out coddling moth traps near your apple trees as well. They contain a pheromone which attracts the males which then get stuck on the sticky trap, preventing them from mating with females and reducing the number of eggs laid. They are a bit pricey, but worth it ( unless you like having wormy apples!) Water all your fruit trees regularly now that they begin to flower. Stressed out fruit trees will attract pests, especially aphids. I do not recommend chemical sprays for aphid control as that will also kill beneficial ladybugs and lacewings. Just keep your trees well watered throughout fruit production.

Scale on Pinyon tree

This is also a good time to spray your piñon trees with dormant oil too.  If you see little black dots on yellowing needles, that’s piñon scale. It’s endemic here and will not kill the tree, but will cause significant needle drop making the tree look rather anemic.  The oil will suffocate the eggs and larvae of the insect and significantly reduce the infestation. Also, scrape up and dispose of the dried needles underneath the tree.

White fuzzy masses are the nest of the scale insect

 

You may find white fuzzy masses there, which are the nests of the scale insect. Thoroughly soak the area with the dormant oil spray as well. During the spring and summer look for these fuzzy masses on the undersides of the pine branches and hose them off forcefully with hose nozzle.

Using dormant oil spray is an environmentally responsible way to help control a number of pests in your yard.  No harmful chemicals, and the bees and beneficial insects in your yard will love you for it!

PRESERVING LEMONS

 

Meyer lemons are smaller, rounder, and softer than regular supermarket lemons. They range in color from bright yellow to light orange. Originally from China, they are grown in Florida and California. They are most similar to the lemons grown in the Mediterranean for preserving.

Preserving Lemons
by Mike McGeary

What Are Preserved Lemons?

They are lemons packed in salt and lemon juice, a process that preserves them for many months without refrigeration.

The standard lemons in grocery stores have skins that are hard and have a strong flavor. The best lemons for preserving that are widely available in the United States are Meyer lemons, because their skin is soft and has very little of the bitter white pith found in standard lemons. Also, they are nicely mellow rather than tart in flavor.

I have found Meyer lemons at the Montañita Co-op and Whole Foods, and they probably are available at other grocery stores. The problem is that they are not always available, so you have to keep a lookout for them and get them when you see them. It is also necessary to use them within days of purchase, because the thin pithless skin does not protect them as well as the thick skins and pith of regular lemons. The short shelf life also makes them more expensive, but you won’t need that many to last your needs for months.

You can buy preserved lemons in jars from specialty stores and perhaps supermarkets, but I found that they do not compare in flavor with ones I make myself.

You can learn more about the origin of Meyer lemons, how they are used, and how they have become more popular from a National Public Radio story here:  The Meyer Lemon: More Than A Pretty Face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Preserve Lemons?

I began to preserve lemons because I like to make Moroccan tagines and couscous, and preserved lemons are a basic ingredient. As Paula Wolfert put it in her 1973 cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Food from Moroco (which is still in print): “There is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, no substitute for preserved lemons in Moroccan food.”

In other words, preserved lemons have a unique flavor.

Preserved lemons are also used across the middle east, not just in Morocco. For example, Yotam Ottolenghi of Jerusalem has recipes using preserved lemons in his cookbooks, including Jerusalem and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

I also chop the skin into vinaigrettes and marinades. Recently, I chopped up half a lemon skin and some of the pulp with chopped garlic, olive oil, and salt and stuffed the mixture under the skin of two large bone-in organic chicken breasts, before roasting them in the oven. Yum!

Many people, apparently inspired by Martha Stewart (see NPR story above), are using fresh Meyer lemons in baking, such as Stewart’s lemon and pine nut tart, but that’s an article for another day.

 

How to Preserve Lemons

Mise en place:

  • One-quart canning jar, preferably wide mouth for easier retrieval of the lemons.
  • Cup of non-iodized salt in a bowl, with a tablespoon to stuff the lemons (I use kosher but sea salt is fine).
  • About 12 Meyer lemons (about 8 for the jar, 4 to provide juice to top off the jar after it is filled with lemons).
  • Sharp knife.

Preparation

  • Sterilize the canning jar by filling with boiling water or running through the dishwasher.
  • Put a tablespoon of salt on the bottom of the jar.
  • Scrub the lemons, and cut the tips off the ends of each lemon.
  • Cut the lemons into quarters without separating the wedges. That is, (1) put the lemon on end, and cut down most but not all the way through the lemon. (2) Rotate one quarter. (3) Repeat Step 1. See the lemon on the left in the photo, above.

I learned a slightly different method: (1) Putting the lemon on end, cut down most but not all the way through the lemon. (2) Rotate one-quarter. (3) Invert the lemon. (4) Repeat step 1. See the lemon on the right in the photo, above.

TIP: I hold the knife at about a 20 degree angle so that I can’t accidentally cut all the way through the lemon.

  • Put a tablespoon of salt inside each lemon, reshape, and place in the jar.
  • Pack the lemons as tightly as you can. If necessary to fill holes, separate a lemon into halves. Put another tablespoon of salt between each layer (there will be about 2) and on top.
  • Fill the jar with lemon juice from the remaining lemons.
  • Place the rind from a lemon squeezed for juice on top.
  • Seal the jar and leave for a month or more before using any lemons, shaking daily for a week to thoroughly dissolve the salt.

After the lemons are ready, they do not have to be refrigerated, but refrigeration reduces the chance that a white mold will form on surfaces exposed to air. The mold is harmless and washes off when you use the lemon. (The purpose of laying the skin of a squeezed lemon on top is to provide a surface for any mold that might form, and which can be easily removed and discarded.) The best way to prevent mold is to keep the lemons always completely covered by juice.

To use, rinse thoroughly to remove the salt. Most Moroccan recipes will have you slice the skin into narrow strips and discard the pulp. It is possible to use some or all of the pulp—I usually do—but it will remain very salty, so be sure to reduce the amount of salt you would normally add. You can find many Moroccan and other recipes that use preserved lemons online.

ENJOY!

 

Apricots

It’s apricot season and they are out everywhere! It’s unusual to get apricots here in Santa Fe (about every 7 years) as usually a late freeze comes in spring and freezes all the blossoms, but not this year!

If you don’t have any apricots, don’t worry. There are apricots between La Choza restaurant and Whole Foods on Cerrillos in the Railyard Park for the picking. Last year I picked enough to make apricot jam.

I have a wonderful apricot jam recipe that has St. Germain’s liquer in it. St Germain’s is a liquor made out of elderberries and is delicious by itself but when added to apricot jam while cooking, it gives a wonderful floral nuance to the jam that is delicious. So I am excited to make more this year as I’m down to my last jar of apricot jam. The recipe can be found here.