Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bringing in the Harvest

If it is true that "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," then Autumn is the time when old women's thoughts turn to bringing in the harvest!! I do a little canning, almost no freezing, and I'm interested in other forms of food preservation.

I know, I know, it's been a very long time since I have posted anything, but this summer was the pits. At least a month of 100 degree temps decimated the garden, and work was a bear, taking up all of my emotional energy.

Now that we've had a month of cooler (and sometimes downright chilly) temps and some blessed rain, anything in the garden that wasn't ruined has bounced back.

I pulled up the San Marzano tomatoes today, not because they are done, but because I need the room to put in some fall/winter plants. I got almost nothing off those tomato plants all summer, but when I pulled them out, they were packed with green tomatoes. I will let some ripen inside to use later, and some will go into green tomato salsa.   I think I post this every year.  So does the Farmgirl, as it turns out.   One of the comments on the post also suggested roasting the green tomatoes (!!) with sweet potatoes.

In a repeat of last year's "haul" photo, this is what I got off my 4 plants.  Enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket.


The Corno de Toro peppers (there is a red pimento pepper peeking out of the background) need just a little more ripening.  The "sun side" is ripe, but the "shade side" is still green.  These are OK, but an improvement over banana peppers?   I don't know.  I might try both next year to test them side-by-side.   

Another reason for pulling out the paste tomatoes is to give my favorite German Pinks as much sun as possible, Hoping to ripen these babies on the vine.  

It's hard to appreciate how large these are in this photo.  I have at least a dozen 1 to 2 lb. tomatoes still on the plants. German Pinks are a very late/fall variety.  There is just no getting around that.  It doesn't matter how early the seedlings are started or when they are set out, this plant will only produce the occasional tomato until September.  They can go until frost kills the vines.  Then the green tomatoes are still fine to bring in and ripen.   The lady who gave me these said her family did that every year, and have had fresh tomatoes as late as Thanksgiving!!    
My dehydrator has been going day and night for a couple of weeks. I bought the peppers in the photo below at the local farmer's market.

I have dried peppers, zucchini and yellow squash, but my favorite thing to dry this fall - is greens!  I only occasionally eat greens cooked by themselves.  I prefer them in something  - think any recipe with the word "Florentine" in the title. Any greens can be dried - spinach, kale, chard, turnip get the idea.  I dry mine on the lowest temperature available, to preserve as much of the nutritional value as possible.   Dehydrating maven Mary Bell suggests powdering them after drying, which is fine, but I like to just lightly crush them into flakes with my hands before storing. They can then be added to any dish while cooking  - soups, stews, rice, couscous, pasta - they would be especially good in veggie lasagna.    

Another favorite is to buy fresh mushrooms on sale at the store then slice and dry those.  They dry especially well.  When reconstituting, the liquid makes a great mushroom stock, and they are good in so many things too - like that veggie lasagna. (do you sense a trend here?)

My other new way of preserving is fermenting. Yes, the experiment I talked about in my long-ago previous post went very well, and I have fermented many things since then!


I love these pickles!!!!!! They taste very different from vinegar-preserved pickles, and they are so freakin' easy to make!!  I have also done radishes, which I liked a lot  -

fermented radishes at the beginning:

photo credit:

And when they're done -


I just wanted to show you that the fermenting processes draw the red out of the radish skins, turning the radish white, and the liquid pink.  It looks a little weird, but tastes good!!  I also made 6 quarts of sauerkraut, which are in bags in the freezer.  I tasted it as I was bagging it, and I think it will be very good.

I didn't like broccoli at all, and I'm not fond of the cauliflower I fermented.   I made beet kvass  (how-to here: ) which is the liquid drawn off fermented beets.'s an acquired taste...I don't dislike it, but it is different.  It is so good for you though, I keep taking a swig now and then.

I made preserved lemons.  The instructions I had called the ones with added spices Moroccan lemons, and the plain ones Italian.   I made plain.

photo credit and how-to here:

Since I had to use lots of fresh lemons to get enough juice (unlike the photo above the lemons have to be covered with liquid) I peeled the zest (no pith) off the leftover lemon rinds, I'm steeping them in vodka, and will soon be making my own Limoncello.  I'm doing the same with Bing cherries to make homemade Kirsch.

What are YOU preserving this fall, and how?