Tag Archives: breadfruit

Garden and Food Update: Our Outdoor Grocery Store


Posted by Cassie

We just spent about 3 days mowing, machete-ing and planting around our property. It’s hard, hot work, but in the summertime you have to do it fairly regularly or things will just grow out of hand with all the rain. I can mow about an acre that is flat(ish) and Britton does another acre that has a fairly pronounced slope.

Mowing the lawn
Mowing away!

We have two of the same mower so sometimes we mow together, but we can also exchange parts as we inevitably break something. The good news is that all the growth and work also means FOOD! Lots and lots of food.

Red Bananas
Delicious creamy red banana

In the summers I can buy about half of what I normally do at the (indoor, conventional) grocery store and only need to go shopping every 10-12 days instead of every 5-7 days and we could probably go even less if we could stand to eat mangos every snack and meal. Instead I end up having to shovel off the rotting mangoes from the roof of the cabana and the chickens and turkeys eat them. A good exchange for some eggs and meat down the line.

Mangoes and ocean
Rooftop mangos

Fruit 2
A quick stroll around the finca for about 10 minutes I came up with this plate of food. Eggs, figs, Surinam cherry, mulberry, sapodilla, pomarrosa, papaya, mango, passionfruit

And while I love the delicate little berries like mulberry and pitanga, and the succulent passionfruit, nispero and figs, the real staples that make it so you don’t have to go shopping as much are in the starches like breadfruit and plantains.

Breadfruit
Breadfruit AKA pana ready to be picked

Plantains and lechosa
Plantains and papaya from our finca

Both breadfruit and plantains taste and can be cooked much like potatoes. They can both be harvested and used green or a little more mature. I prefer to cook with amarillos and ripe pana, but that’s just my preference since we still have a limited kitchen and the ripe ones take less time and prep. I often cook them with our eggs. Just add a few peppers and fruit and it’s a fully rounded meal!

Harvesting Coconuts
Britton and a friend harvesting coconut

Another great food that we are currently under-utilizing is coconut. We have two varieties that are currently producing. One is a smaller yellow coconut and the other is a large green one. They are both good. The green one tends to have a lot more coconut water though. I would like to eventually make our own coconut milk and oil. For now we are just eating the meat and drinking the water.

Coco water
Coconut water filled into a bottle and ready for some tragos!

Papaya open
Papaya AKA Lechosa

Another favorite of mine is the wild papaya we have growing. These just grow as volunteers. I think the birds drop their seeds. I never was much of a fan of papaya because I think it smells a bit like vomit and it is recommended to squirt lemon or lime juice on papaya to cut that smell. But this rounder variety doesn’t have that smell. So it is like having a cantaloupe tree! And I LOVE cantaloupe. This stuff is so good! They call it lechosa here I think because when you cut it open a milky sap sort of forms as you can see in the lower left of the above picture.

Lichi
Grow little lychee grow! (Red flagged plant beneath the royal palm)

We are starting to see the fruits of our labor in some of the trees we first planted like the pomarrosa. And we are still planting more trees. Like this little lichi/lychee above as well as a governor’s plum and longan.

 

Pomarrosa
Both Britton and the chickens congregate around this little pomarrosa tree to eat straight off it

Pomarrosa is so good! One of the few truly crisp tropical fruits. It has a rosey smell and a crunchy almost jicama texture. It looks waxy and the redder they are, the sweeter. This variety is seedless and you can basically eat the whole thing in 2-3 bites. I love to add them to fruit salads for a pink burst and a nice crunch.

chickens and pomarrosa
Chickens and turkeys scavenging and fertilizing around the pomarrosa tree

We all love “shopping” at our outdoor grocery store. It’s the most beautiful supermarket I know!

Roble carpet
The aisles of our grocery store… littered with fallen flowers. The store may be a little warm but way better than unnatural air conditioning!

Tropical Garden flower
An the floral selection is way better too ;-)

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The Wait is Over: Puerto Rico’s Summertime


Posted by Cassie

Summer in Puerto Rico is a bit hotter and more humid than the rest of the year, but generally it feels pretty good to me. Of course, I have always liked the weather a bit on the hot side. When it gets too hot we go snorkeling or lay in the baby pool or take lots of showers. If it rains, everything gets cooled down quite a bit, but then the bugs come out. In fact, I would say that everything here seems to be waiting for the rains so that they can come out.

All the bugs, all the plants, and the animals. Even us. Everything has been waiting for the right moment to be in full bloom before it takes off with life. And sometimes nature acquiesces and it rains every day for an hour, three days in a row and then she becomes fickle and it doesn’t rain again for a week. But it has been enough for things to get the cue for their yearly debut.

Quenepas
Quenepas growing!

I was taking a look at one of the citrus trees when I felt a shake on the tree. Suddenly a lizard pops up. It is not unusual to find lots of gecko lizards all around, but this one was bright green. A baby iguana! I decided I would try and catch it. I had no idea whether or not they bit, but I thought I would try anyway. I aimed for the tail, and through my chicken and turkey catching (and mosquito and ant swatting) I have developed quicker Ninja reflexes.

I snatched him right off the branch upside down. He wiggled around a bit and Britton brought me a plant pot and we threw him in there. Unfortunately the pot had a rather large drain hole and he snuck out. Not 10 minutes later, though, at another area of the yard, I caught another one and we were able to take some pictures of him. I held him with a plastic bag because he was indeed trying to swing around and bite my fingers!

Baby Iguana (small)

We have read that iguanas lay and hatch about 50 eggs in a clutch and so they must have just hatched somewhere on or near our property because they are all over, if you can just see them through the greenery. I think iguana may indeed soon be a common dinner option around here. Especially with all the fruit and vegetables that we want to eat (and not feed to them)!

Quite a few trees and plants are bearing fruit already which is awesome. We have so many passionfruits (parchas) that the vine covering the other tree makes it look like we hung Christmas globe ornaments all over it.

Parcha vine
Parcha vine in a tree with a fruit

After picking some of the parcha, we laid them in the sun for them to yellow a bit more until they ripen fully.

Parcha line
A line of parchas

We have also noticed the breadfruit is fruiting as well as the quenepas. The guava tree is flowering and even our new lime tree is fruiting. And our everbearing starfruit tree continues to impress us with its abundance.

Guava Flower
Guava flowers!

Breadfruit
Breadfruit (we are not exactly sure the best time to pick them or the best way to cook them)

It has been pretty cool to be able to go outside every day of the year and interact in some way with nature. My dreams have become filled with plants and animals much more than the human dramas that filled them before.

Polish Hendrix(small)
The chickens and turkeys are doing great!

I feel much more connected to the food and the land. We have also become much more patient. Delayed gratification is a must when you wish to eat from the land, even if it is just a portion of your food. We had to become patient and wait for the chickens to grow to full size and now the hawks for the most part leave them alone. And now we wait for their eggs. We have to wait until the plants feel strong enough to fruit. We cannot rush anything along.

Even building the coops have helped to remind us of this. It would be much easier to simply buy new wood or a prefab shed rather than have to take down an existing structure, remove the nails, powerwash the wood, sort it, cut it to a new size and then reuse it. But it is much less wasteful and more resourceful to repurpose something and give it new life the way nature does every day in her cyclical way.

Britton has done a great job with all of these projects that he has built nearly completely himself without any outside help (besides me, when I am his assistant).

Coop site
Turkey coop base is coming along

So for the patient ones, the Puerto Rico summer has many gifts. The ocean is flat and full of fish and turtles, the roads are quieter (except for the Noche de San Juan which was one huge party!) and all the food -including iguana- has decided the time is ripe for the picking!

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