Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The ‘Mystery Berry’

Honeyberry plants, aka Lonicera caerulea (say that three times fast after a glass of wine!) are non-invasive relatives of the honeysuckle – don’t picture the vines wildly covering your grandmother’s hillside! These plants grow much like traditional blueberries in a bushy form.

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So most importantly for our berry lovers – what do these oblong shaped blue guys taste like? Much like wine, that seems to depend on each person’s unique palate – they have been described as a ‘mystery berry’ flavor, reminding some of blackberry, cherry, grape, and even subtle kiwi. With a very thin skin, the zesty sweet-tart berries melt in your mouth when enjoyed fresh off the bush. They work well in any recipes calling for blueberries, adding a sweetness and unique depth of flavor. Jams, pies, muffins, let your imagination grow wild in your culinary ventures with these special berries.

Also called haskap berry (from the Japanese name for the plant), this relatively ‘new’ fruit has actually been cultivated in cooler regions for centuries, farmers in Asia and Eastern Europe knew them well and how to grow honeyberries. The plants are native to Russia and Siberia and have remarkable cold tolerance, surviving temperatures of -55 degrees Fahrenheit and blooms that can tolerate spring frosts with little damage. It typically takes a full year before the plants start to produce any noticeable quantity of fruit, but we hope to have a handful to taste for ourselves this season! New rows are planted!

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A Rare Pear?

Museums nationwide are filled with relics, art, antiques, and archives that preserve the rich and diverse history of our country’s past…but in Massachusetts a good many natives know that on the rare occasion a piece of history might just be growing outside! Growing outside for over 380 years to be exact (a hell of a lot of birthday candles!), the sole surviving Endecott Pear Tree has been celebrated in history, art, and poetry, as well as illustrated in books, magazines, murals and postcards from as early as the 18th century. The Endecott certainly rivals our measly 25-30 year old orchards trees here on the farm!Endecott-3.jpg

“Since the 1630s, the singular, Endecott Pear Tree has resided here in present-day Danvers. The tree is the last survivor of many fruit trees planted here under the direction of the first Massachusetts Governor, English Puritan John Endecott (c1588-1665). Endecott was a thirty-nine year old zealous Puritan gentleman and member of what became the Massachusetts Bay Company. The company was established in England to profit from settlement in the New World and establish a commonwealth of likeminded inhabitants loyal to England, but steadfast in their Puritan religious beliefs.

Endecott is known to have extensively cultivated his farm, including the establishment of apple and pear orchards. Tradition has it that the surviving pear tree, most likely not part of the more extensive orchard area, was planted by the governor’s own hands or at least by his personal direction near his dwelling house. Dates for this planting are believed to be somewhere within the period of 1632 to 1640. Whether the tree was from nursery rootstock first planted at his Salem garden and transplanted here, or from an actual seed stone is lost to history.Endecott-print.jpg

Pears in England during the 16th and early 17th century were often used for the production of “perry,” an alcoholic drink made from fermented pears in a process similar to cider making. The fruit of many of the varieties used for making perry have a harsh, bitter taste. Unlike apple trees which have a fairly finite life expectancy, some pear trees are known to produce fruit for several hundred years. The pears from the Danvers tree have been known as “Endecott Pears” for several hundred years, and have also been identified with a variety of sugar pear known as “Bon Chrétien.”

Many writers have waxed poetic in describing the tree’s heritage. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of its longevity and President John Adams spoke of its significance. Written up in scores of periodicals, including being featured in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” this modest tree has become iconic. It has survived hurricanes, century snowstorms, neglect, soil stripping, industrial development and even a murderous attack of vandalism by teenagers in 1964.

The Endecott Pear Tree is the oldest surviving cultivated tree in America. It is an authentic living link between us of the 21st century and our pioneering founders of the early 1600s. An important symbol of heritage, strength and resilience, it is truly a national treasure.” Endecott-Pear-1923.jpg

Still bearing fruit to this day, this amazing tree continues its fascinating life as part of our unique and varied heritage. For a more in depth history of this special tree, pour a glass of Greendance Pear Wine and enjoy the full story on the archives website here: http://www.danverslibrary.org/archive/?page_id=1829

The Busy Bees of Spring

Despite the freezing and almost freezing past few nights, our honey bees are flying about busy as ever during the sunny days. Their current focus is on our strawberry fields but its their hard work and honey from last season that we are enjoying–our first bottling of Greendance Mead!

Coming and going, and going and coming. The endless round trips to the hive. We have around 20 hives each season that work endlessly.

Mead has a longer history than our earliest civilizations, being produced some 30,000 years ago. Letting a fine wine age can be a great reward, but we would not recommend sampling any wine quite that old. Ancient man traveled out of Africa into the north and brought with them bees, their honey, and the key ingredient – yeast. There are theories that mead was first discovered in hollows of treats where hives would form and get filled with water during the rainy season. Add honey, water, and some native yeast – voilá the rough recipe for honey wine was born. Whatever its accidental origins, Mead making became a tradition across Europe, India, and China.

Monk drinking wine right out of the barrel Li Livres dou Santé by en Aldobrandino of Siena - France, late 13th century. British Library

Keeper of the Mead having a sample…or two.

 

 

Honey and Mead were prized in Europe and popular for many millennia until the introduction of sugar cane brought back by some famous world explorers. Honey took a back seat to the less expensive form of sugar and Mead became an art form kept alive by monks in their monasteries. There, hives were kept for beeswax–a necessity in ceremonial candle making–and provided a surplus of honey.

 

 

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So in honor of the great traditions of our ancient ancestors, we channeled our inner Scandinavian and produced a mead with great smoothness, light floral aromas, and flavors of pure local honey. So whether sailing to new worlds, conquering neighboring strongholds, or lording over your hall—fill your store rooms with Greendance Mead.

 

Spring Daffodil Dinner Details!

Daffodil Dinner

To attend please call, 724-547-6500   *Space is limited*

*Cost of attendance can be refunded up to 48 hours prior to event, after that time the cost is non-refundable. Thank you.

 

 Menu

Amuse Bouche ~ Organic Truffled Eggs – Horseradish Fluff

Salmon Tataki ~ Seared Salmon – Spring Veggies – Watercress Sauce

Wild Mushroom Risotto – Organic Pork Belly ~ Arborio Rice – Forest Mushroom

Creme of Potato & Laurel Mountains Ramps ~ Somerset Potatoes – Stream Side Ramps – Beet Chips

Olive Oil Poached Asparagus ~ Fried Torn Bread – Prosciutto – Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Intermezzo ~ Artisan Cheese – Raw Honey – Raisins on Vine

Braised Boneless Short Rib ~ Tomato – Organic Beef Short Ribs – Spring Onion Potatoes

Sand Hill Berries Dessert

A White for Spring

A few bottles mingle in the nude on one of the cellar’s bottling tables, waiting for Jay to reload the label machine. Recognize them by their color? This sweet white has a hue of gold and a pure American white grape flavor that will bring back memories of picking grapes from your grandmother’s arbor. Still guessing? Niagara is back, the new vintage was bottled late last week—all 600 gallons! It’s on our shelves now for those that have been waiting, or try a sip in the tasting room. Either way, be sure to stop in and enjoy the sweet taste of spring.

Apricots!

About one spring in three the apricots make it through the spring frosts. This is a new variety, and supposedly cold-tolerant. If this year is successful, it would be a lot of fun to consider plantingApricot Bloom and Bee a small grove which would supply us with a tart, rich apricot wine.

Spring Pruning

What is the best way to describe spring grape pruning? With a graphic.

For those people unfamiliar with horticulture, it may come as a surprise that TONS of grapes result from vines that have essentially no growth from the previous year in the early spring of the year. Over the next few week we will be removing the spent canes from last year and any evidence of excess growth from the previous year. We will allow only one cane per spur each with two buds. (An emergency cane will be allowed to grow, however.)

First we will go though the rows with hedge trimmers removing long cumbersome growth from 2011. Then we will selectively prune the healthiest cane growing closest to the training wire down to two buds. Then following that a person armed with loppers will remove excess dead wood so that no new canes can possibly emerge. With painstaking effort we will move from the drawing at the bottom right to the drawing at the top left!

The four stages of the vine

The four stages of The Vine