Using the Almond dehusker

When almonds are ready to pick some of them have a green casing or husk attached to the almond. Some of the husks are brown and easy to remove and some are more firmly attached. The best way of removing them is with an electric dehusker. The Almonds are poured in the top and the clean almonds come out of the chute into a container.  After dehusking the almonds are  left in the sun for a final drying. The husks can be used as a mulch or even as animal fodder for goats or horses etc. A dehusking machine costs about 800 euros and uses about 750 watts. We usually manage to dehusk the almonds using solar power.

The dehusking machine is quite noisy and the people working closest use ear plugs.  The big thing to remember with a dehusking machine is not to switch it off when there are still nuts inside. You have to wait until you can hear that the nuts have all passed through before switching off. If the machine stops with nuts inside it is difficult to restart. You have to switch the machine off and then  turn the flywheel backwards manually. Then the machine is switched back on again and the flywheel is give an extra push with a foot. This can be quite tricky.  

Kumquat and Lemon Marmalade using a pressure cooker

I have never made marmalade before and have always been put off by the seemingly  never-ending, tedious task of chopping, peeling, shredding, juicing, boiling, testing, etc. But when a friend told me about his method of making kumquat and lemon marmalade by soaking the fruit in sugar for a day, I thought I would give it a go. In his recipe, the kumquats are halved, the pips removed, and then combined in a bowl with lemon juice and sugar for 24 hours before boiling as normal.

My challenge, therefore, was to invent a recipe for a pressure cooker which would be even easier and quicker to prepare. A neighbour’s sister makes quince jelly in a pressure cooker by combining equal parts of fruit and sugar and then cooking for 3 minutes at pressure so I decided to experiment with times to see if this method would be possible for marmalade.

The first attempt was a success (although the cooking times needed tweaking) and I was really pleased with the consistency, texture and taste of the first batch. I had literally thrown everything in together (pips, pith and lemon quarters) but decided that for the second attempt I would tie the pips and lemon pith and skins in muslin to keep them separate.

It was clear that three minutes was far too short and I had to bring the cooker back up to pressure several times. So I decided that for the second attempt I would cook the marmalade for 15 minutes at pressure.

INGREDIENTS
500g kumquats
2 large lemons
400g brown sugar or half the weight of the prepared fruit

METHOD
Cut the kumquats in half, remove the pips and save on a muslin square. Cut the loquats into 2mm slices.
Peel the lemon rind with a vegetable peeler. Shred the rind into 2mm strips.
Put an empty bowl on the scales and weigh in the fruit and lemon juice. Add half the amount of sugar and mix well.
Securely tie up the lemon pith and pips in the muslin square and add toe the bowl of fruit.

Leave for 24 hours, stirring every so often. At the end of that time, the sugar will have completely dissolved and there will be quite a bit more syrup.

Transfer the kumquats and the muslin bag to a pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and slow release the pressure.

Open the pressure cooker and transfer immediately into clean glass jars using a jam funnel and a measuring jug. Turn all the jars upside down to sterilise the caps for about half an hour and then turn back the right way and leave to cool completely.

Facts about our Vineyard

This is just an information sheet to contain the information about our vineyard for internal use.

grape_picking

2013
We start by planting 75 petit verdot on the Era field. There are also a few plants made from cuttings which are white grapes.

2014
Planted 250 new vines on the new field. Half of them Cabernet Sauvignan the other half Bobal.
We did make some wine but it was a mix of our own and some grapes from over the hill.

2015
We made about 40 litres of wine.
The plants were pruned correctly for the first time in October.

2016
We planted 125 Tempranillo and 125 Cabernet Sauvignon

An audit in June by Daniel the Dressing Gown Man states:
There are 660 growing vines.
About 50 did not make it to October.

Harvest:

The harvest happened on the 21st September.
4 crates from new field
3 crates from the Era field
3 crates from down below.
It took about 2 hours with 6 people to do the harvest.

Made about 100 litres of grape must.
About 12% alcohol potential on the light meter.

Pressing:
The pressing happened on 15th of October with the help of Jordan, Pierre, Jane and Caroline the Belgian girl. The wine was quite dry. I estimate that there were about 65 litres.

Notes: Many of the new vines planted were ripped out by foxes searching for insects.
Maybe the goatshit, leaf mold and earth mix should be aged longer before use.

2017
100 bobal ordered. Arrival date 1st April.
 We planted 1 new line and the rest were used to replace dead vines

This time we used the new petrol auger and it took most of the work out of preparing the holes. In August we put the top wires on all the lines.

Harvest:
The team was Sam, Heather, Alex (skateboarder), Phil Kiwi, Nitsan

The harvest happened on the 15th September.
35 crates in total.
18 crates from new field
11 crates from the Era field
It took about 3 hours with 6 people to do the top fields
6 crates from down below this took about 25 minutes

Made about 450 litres of grape must.
About 15% alcohol potential on the light meter.

The pressing happened on 15th of October with the help of Sam, Heather She-Wolf,  Phil Dynes. The time before pressing was much shorter and wine was still sweet. I estimate that there were about 280 litres.

2018
We planted 200 bobal in the top half of the Era field .
This was done by Aida and me after Christmas.
It is the first time I have planted the vines early.
All of the holes were done with the petrol auger.

Aida counted all the vines and there were 813.

Harvest:
The team was Jen (australian) Amber kiwi, James.

The harvest happened on the 9th October.
30 crates in total.
21 crates from new field
9 crates from the Era field
It took about 3 hours with 4 people to do the new field
4 crates from down below.
These had powdery mildew so they were dried for sultanas rather than wine.

Made about 390 litres of grape must.
About 14% alcohol potential on the light meter.

The pressing happened on 9th of November with just Sarah and I.  I estimate that there were about 260 litres.

The harvest was less than the previous year because the table grapes below the house got a bad case of Powdery Mildew

Chemicals for powdery mildew. Contact fungicides work well as preventatives and for early, mild infections, notably potassium bicarbonate compounds and horticultural and neem oils.  Phytotoxicity can be a problem with some plants, however, so care should be used before broad scale application.  Systemic fungicides include triflumizole (e.g., Terraguard), myclobutanil (e.g., Eagle), the strobilurin group (e.g., Compass O, Insignia, Heritage), which is very prone to inducing resistance in pathogens, and thiophanates (e.g., Cleary’s 3336, OHP 6672).

Chemicals for downy mildew. Contact protectants such as mancozeb (e.g., Protect) and copper, alternated or mixed with systemics like mefenoxam (e.g., Subdue MAXX) applied as a drench at the beginning of the season and sprays of dimethomorph (e.g., Stature DM), phosphonates (Aliette), and strobilurins (e.g., Fenstop, Compass O, Insignia, Heritage), have shown good control.  Effectiveness of any given chemical depends on the particular downy mildew pathogen present; what works well for one may give minimal control for others.  Tank mixes of more than one of these agents in a rotation can be useful.

 

2019

Harvest:

The team was Pud, Julie, Rael, Maggie, Helen Tinsel, Sarah

The harvest happened on the 7th September
About 15 crates in total.
It took about 2 and a half  hours. 

The low harvest was maybe due to the fact that we did no irrigation.
The powdery mildew was very successfully controlled. 

We had no tractor until around may so the weed clearance was done with the weed wacker in May.

About 13% alcohol potential on the light meter.

 

 

 

Tuesday 12th July 2016

lavender summer cortijoblog
Today was a balmy hot day at the Cortijo and temperatures are abnormally hot for this time of year. The lavender is in full bloom and there are loads of different butterflies and bees collecting pollen from it. One of these days we will have our own colony of bees so that we can reap the benefits of this hive of activity.

There are also some beautiful flowers on the way to the swimming pool:

2016-07-12 12.50.29

2016-07-12 12.51.27

Olive Oil FAQ

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OLIVE OIL FAQ

Is oil made from green or black olives?
All green olives eventually go black. The olives in Spain are mostly green in mid November but by January almost all of them have turned black.

Is olive oil made from the stones or the flesh of the olives?
The oil in olives is concentrated in the flesh not in the stones. After milling, the stones are mostly intact. Stones do not make any distinctive contribution to the flavour of the oil and in some extraction techniques the stones are removed.

What is the difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most expensive. Extra virgin olive oil must be extracted using only mechanical means without the addition of any solvents and with a temperature of less than 30C.

Extra virgin olive oil must have less than 0.8% free fatty acid because better oils have a low acidity. Each time an olive producer takes a load of olives to the mill, a random sample is taken and this is analysed in a laboratory. The acidity influences the amount that is paid for the olives.

Extra virgin olive oil must have a peroxide value of less than 20. The peroxide level is an indication of how much oxidation has happened, all oils oxidise but excessive oxidation results in rancid flavours.

In order for an oil to qualify as “extra virgin” the oil must also pass an official chemical test in a laboratory and has to be evaluated by a trained tasting panel recognized by the International Olive Council.

What is the basic process of olive oil extraction?
First the olives are ground up into a paste. This was traditionally done with 3 massive heavy conical stones which were dragged around in a circle by a donkey. One of the cooperatives where we take the olives uses a more old-fashioned technique (click here for more info).  Nowadays,  the olives are ground up using electric motors. Traditionally the olive oil paste was then spread out on circular mats which were stacked in a press and pressure applied to squeeze the oil out of the paste. Pressing the olive paste would now be considered an old-fashioned technique and nowadays most oil is extracted in centrifuge-based systems.

Can I use olive oil for frying?
Olive oil is versatile and can be used for roasting, sautéeing, shallow frying, dressing and drizzling. Since it has a high smoking point (210ºC) which is higher than the ideal recommended frying temperature of 180ºC for most foods, it can also be used for deep-fat frying and many chefs recommend it.

Click here if you would like to BUY OUR OLIVE OIL.