Tag Archives: harvest

Our Family’s Acme Juicer

“Old Faithful”

I always feel, when I pull this bad boy out of the cupboard, that we’re part of the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour. Acme was always the brand that the Roadrunner featured and it always puts a smile on my face when I use it.

My parents bought this centrifugal juicer back in the 50’s – sometime after my brother, George, was born in 1956 and before I arrived in 1959. Lots of fruit and vegetables have been juiced in this machine and I am so grateful to have it with us in Cabo.

Getting the juicer here was no small feat. It’s heavy, and I mean REALLY heavy and there was no way that it was ever going to be part of my luggage. Mom’s neighbors and friends, Rob and Kathy, drove down every year from Alberta to Vicente Guerrero, a small puebla located on Highway 1, approximately 175 south of Tijuana, Mexico. They come, at their own expense, to do missionary work at the orphanage located there. We admire their commitment and selflessness very much. Anyway, Rob and Kathy agreed to stow boxes for me for three different years so that I could get some of my heavier articles here. The Acme juicer arrived last winter and we were so grateful to receive it.

After my parents bought it, my Dad belonged to a health club that had a steam room. Dad loved onions and decided to make onion juice for himself using the Acme juicer. It seemed like a good idea until he went to the steam room after drinking the juice. One by one, every single man got up and left. It finally dawned on Dad that the onion juice was coming through his pores and he stunk out the other steam room users. They say that a skunk smells his own smell last! I guess that was true in this situation.

My Mom processed high bush cranberries in that juicer and so much more over the years. One of the highlights when I was a kid was the treat of fresh carrot juice when we dug up our garden. I loved carrot juice then and I absolutely still love it now!

Some years ago, the lug nut in the centre of the machine stripped out and I was desperate to find a replacement. The internet is a wonderful thing as I located a parts provider in Minneapolis, MN, who sent me the part I needed to keep the juicer going for a few more decades (this machine was definitely made to LAST!)!

The other day I dug out “Old Faithful” and did up a batch of juice using fresh organic carrots and beets from our local market, ginger, apple and cucumber that we grew in our Tower Garden, ginger and apple. It was absolutely delicious and transported me to those years on the farm when we made our harvest carrot juice in the fall.

Thanks, Mom (and Rob and Kathy), for finding a way to send this treasure and piece of family history to its new home in Mexico!

Tequila – Made in Mexico – Naturally!

Tequila has been part of Mexican tradition dating back to the ancestral cultures. When natives discovered the blue agave plant and experienced its sweet and palatable flavor, they believed that this was a gift from their gods. Prehispanic towns learned to burn it and extract its juice, which was then fermented. The privilege to drink it was only given to high priests and monarchs to enjoy. Upon the arrival of the Spaniards, this precious liquid was distilled, giving us the tequila we enjoy today.

Tequila became the only Mexican product with the distinction of “Denomination of Origin” (D.O.) and can only be named “tequila” if produced in the central part of Mexico, mostly in the state of Jalisco. It must also be made from the “agave tequilana weber azul” or blue agave plant, one of 136 species of agave in Mexico. This plant has long narrow sword-looking leaves and bluish in color. It is one of the most exotic plants in nature and one of the fewest composed of “inuline”, a fructose polymer, which is a naturally sweet ingredient.

It usually takes from six to eight years for agave plants to be prime for harvest. Agave plants grown in the Los Altos region of the state of Jalisco are considered better that the ones of other regions because of higher fructose content. Agave are very similar to pineapple plants but stand from five to eight feet high and are seven to twelve feet in diameter. Often believed to be a member of the cactus family, they are actually a succulent and are related to the lily and the amaryllis.

Harvesting and Drying Chile Peppers

Chile peppers should be harvested for maximum colour, when the pods have partially dried on the plant, as the succulent red pods have not fully developed their colour. Pod moisture content from red chile peppers is between 65% and 80%, depending on whether they are partially dried on the plant or harvested while still succulent.

Oven drying is my preferred way to dry chiles because of cleanliness. In an oven there is little or no dust to settle on them bringing with it microbes that will cause spoilage when stored for long periods. No flies can land on them, no insects can lay eggs in them, no birds can peck at them and expose them to bacteria, mold and mildew. They also become drier. The air in an oven is much more dry than outside air, and the drier the chile the longer it will store and the better it will taste when finally eaten.

Rinse your ripened chiles, remove the stems, and put them in the oven for drying in the same metal screen mesh colander you gathered and rinsed them in. Don’t overheat your chilies. Set oven control at its lowest setting, but not below 140-150 degrees. If using an electric oven, wedge something heat proof between oven and door to allow a 1″ opening. Moisture from the drying food will vent through this opening. Close the door on a gas oven, this will cause moisture to escape via the exhaust gas flue.

Store the pods in zip lock or other air tight containers after they become crispy dry. Any remaining moisture in them may cause mold during storage. If you are drying for seeds, use the lower range of drying temperature so as not to kill your seeds.