Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Tag: drying

Sun-dried everything

Summer is winding down. Today’s high temperature was 28 degrees. Right now, at about 1am, it’s 18 degrees outside. Still very pleasant, but it’s getting too cold to spend the whole evening out in the courtyard. In the next month or two we’re going to lose the last of the leaves on our grape vines and fig trees. That will be a sad day. By the time January comes around I suppose we’ll also find out how good adobe-brick walls are at keeping out the cold.

Back in July and August we had daily highs between 35 and 40, and clouds were a rare sight. The locals use all that sunshine to dry fruits and vegetables. No cooking, no additives — except sometimes salt. Just leave it out in the sun for a few days.

We sun-dried our figs, but we also tried it with other things, like grapes, pears, and peppers. Some experiments were more successful than others, but at least we have a few things stored away for winter.

Regular readers of the blog will already have heard plenty about our fig production, but I'm still going to show you another photo of them because we love them.

Regular readers of the blog will already have heard plenty about our fig-growing efforts, but I’m still going to show you another fig photo because we love them.

OK, just this one and no more fig shots, I promise.

OK, just this one and no more fig shots, I promise.

Peppers threaded onto string, drying in the courtyard.

Peppers threaded onto string, drying in the courtyard.

Green peppers turn red as they dry. Maybe you knew this but I was surprised.

Green peppers turn red as they dry. Who knew?

Drying grapes and slices of pear. This didn't really work out, but they look cool together.

Drying grapes and slices of pear. This didn’t really work out, but they look cool together.

In truth, our grapes were much better fresh.

Our grapes were much better fresh.

What else can I tell you? In fact I’m behind on posting and there’s a lot to talk about. We’ve had visitors, we’ve been out to see a few more of the fantastic archaeological sites in the area, and we’ve been busy building a sedir (low outdoor sofa) for the courtyard. But those things deserve their own posts. I should say, though, that our cat Molly is doing much better lately. Thanks for all the good wishes sent her way.

I’ll leave you with a photo taken yesterday from a hill on the other side of the village. We used to think it was all private land up there, but we found a dirt road leading to a picnic area at the top of the hill. Great views of Hıdırbeyli, Germencik, and the Menderes Valley to the south, but also a great spot to get some perspective on our place.

We're the last house on the right, and that's the fig orchard up on the hillside. The fig trees are much greener than the surrounding olives.

We’re the last house on the right, and that’s the fig orchard up on the hillside. The fig trees are a lighter green than the surrounding olives.

Farmhouse outlined in yellow; orchard outlined in red.

Farmhouse outlined in yellow; orchard outlined in red.

Meeting the locals

From the day we arrived we have been overwhelmed by the hospitality of our neighbours. Just after we landed it was the holiday of Eid (celebrations and feasting to mark the end of Ramazan) and all of our closest neighbours gave us plates of home-cooked food. Some of them don’t have much, but all of them insist on giving us bread, eggs, vegetables, olive oil, etc. We hope they will be happy with fig jam in return!

figs drying on a specially made wooden pallet

Figs drying on a specially made wooden pallet

As well as sharing the things they have grown, our neighbours have been keen to share their knowledge and experience. For instance, I didn’t know how to properly dry figs. Did you know that you first wait for the figs to fall onto the ground and then you pick them up and dry them in full sun for a week? Also, the ground should be recently ploughed to make it softer, so the figs are not bruised when they fall.

This means that fig picking can take weeks as you wait for them all to fall naturally. In some other fig-growing regions, the figs are chemically treated to make them ripen all at the same time. Doing it the slow, natural way is why Turkish dried figs command such high prices in supermarkets. Time will tell if I have both the patience and the back strength to collect figs every day for a month! But in any case it can’t be more exhausting than the job I was doing in Britain.

Days have been pretty hot but it cools down during the night and there is always a gentle refreshing breeze in the evenings. It is not like this in other parts of Turkey. In Konya or Antalya, you can’t sleep until about 4 or 5am as it is still hot and there is no breeze, In Istanbul, it can be quite humid so you are constantly sweating even when you are sitting still. We don’t have air conditioning here yet but we’re coping very well without it.

Relaxing at the beach

Relaxing at the beach

You can see on our local attractions page how close we are to archaeological sites and the sea. Alongside all the renovation work, so far we’ve managed several times to jump in the car and head to the beach for a couple of hours around sunset… it has been great! There are no traffic jams, no queues, and at that time of the day the beaches are quiet and the water is very inviting.

Building a new bed

Building a new bed

My parents have been staying with us for a while, and have been really helpful. Recently we were also visited by Jason’s parents: all of a sudden we are very popular with our families! 🙂 They also helped a lot in the garden and helped Jason to build a bed… very handy as we are still waiting for our furniture to arrive.

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