These lettuce seedlings aren’t doing well under lights. My guess: the seed starting soil I used wasn’t very good. I bought a brick of starting soil at a nursery four years ago, and seeds I started in that have thrived. These lettuce seedlings are in soil I bought in Ithaca when I was desperate to get the growing season started. The seedlings will be far happier when I set them in the garden today or Tuesday.
This month’s Post Produce isn’t about produce I’m eating from my garden. Rather, it’s about produce I WILL eat! We’re having a most “normal” spring in central Pennsylvania, meaning spring crops are just barely underway.
My peach trees are in bloom, but the apples look barely awake. Pear blossoms are about to burst. Rhubarb is far enough along that were I desperate enough I could harvest some, but I think I’ll hold out a week or two and let the stalks grow to full-length. Raspberry plants I set out last fall are putting out growth despite having been severely pruned by wild animals during the winter. Blueberry plants are also showing signs of life. Oh, and oregano, thyme, sage, lavender, and tarragon have all sprouted new leaves. If the weather is good when I wake up today, I’ll photograph the perennials for a follow-up blog post. Until then, I’m talking vegetables.
I posted about Walla-Walla onions on April 5th, and promised I was about to start a second tray of seeds. Here’s the second tray, and the seedlings look great—though there’s plenty of algae growing on the soil. Algae doesn’t usually cause problems but it may indicate the seedlings have gotten too much water.
When I Plant Vegetables
Despite the lift my perennials provide, annual vegetables hold much more of my attention in early spring. Two weeks ago, I planted 28 foot-rows of pea seeds directly in the garden. Many of those seeds have sprouted, but there are gaps I’ll fill by pressing fresh seeds into the soil. Also, I expect to plant another 14 foot-rows of peas TODAY!
I wish I already had lettuce, spinach, and mustard seeds in the garden, but I’ve been distracted (see the box, Missing Spring if you want to know why.)
Seeds I planted indoors under lights have had enough time to prove themselves. Many have failed, but far more are growing strong. Tomorrow I’ll start seeds to replace the failures, and a few more I wanted to start two weeks ago before I ran out of time. Photos show where things stand.
Now You Post!
I get very excited as my seedlings emerge; there will be fresh vegetables in less than a month! What about you? Are you already harvesting pounds and pounds of delicious produce, or are you merely anticipating? Post about your homegrown produce and use the Linky Widget at the end of this post to link to yours.
I planted 46 tomato seeds two weeks ago. Here’s what sprouted: Glory of Mechelon—3 of 3. Moonglow—5 of 5. Chili-pepper-shaped paste tomato—9 of 15 (from 2-year-old seeds). Indigo Rose—5 of 5. Mortgage Lifter—7 of 7. Dutchman—6 of 8 (But they’re tiny! The short ones in the photo are Dutchman at about one-quarter the height of the other varieties.) White Queen—2 of 3. I’ll start 23 more seeds later today to fill in for ones that didn’t sprout. Also: my earliest-planted tomatoes—Stupice—look about to die. They’re in the same inferior soil that holds my lettuce seedlings, so I’m thinking to start eight more though it’s kind of late for them to demonstrate cold-hardiness. (Stupice are a short-season variety and I was hoping to get an early harvest.)
My pepper starts have been finicky as they always are. These seem to have been over-watered in my absence which has never helped in past years. Still, some are strugging along: Orange King Bell—6 of 8. Purple Jalapeno—1 of 5. Sweet Italian—5 of 5. Poblano—0 of 5. I intended to start two trays of peppers in the first place, but it looks as though I’ll add two more. As the soil in this first tray dries, the poblanos might just wake up and I’ll end up with too many seedlings.
Use the Linky here and add a link to your Post Produce post. Share what you’re eating or what you plan to eat from your own garden:
It seems every season I leave some onions unharvested, and 2012 was no exception. On a shopping trip in mid-March I failed to buy onions, and this caused some anxiety when I started cooking a meal that demanded them. Happily, the 2012 leftovers were juicy, sweet, and tender, and they made the dish.
Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil was messing with us back on February 2nd so, for the first Post Produce of spring, 2013, my small kitchen garden is locked into winter. I’ve started plenty of vegetable seeds indoors, and they’ll probably remain there until mid April.
Despite spring’s reluctance to arrive, I’ve already harvested and prepared food from one of my planting beds. What’s more, the low hoop tunnels I installed last fall have wintered over several lettuce plants, and I anticipate being able to make salad by the time I set seedlings outdoors – using several varieties of lettuce.
My last lettuce harvest of 2012 was at Christmas but it didn’t decimate the lettuce crop. Many plants left in the hoop tunnels survived winter. They didn’t do any growing and there’s frost damage around the edges of some leaves, but the plants will spring into action when the weather warms and I’ll harvest a homegrown lettuce salad about when I’m normally planting for a mid-spring crop.
Until this year, I’d never harvested from my garden in March. The experience further motivates me to think about winter as a fourth growing season. If I can find time through all the other craziness in my life, I’ll expand my winter gardening activities this fall. Maybe I won’t wait for atmospheric carbon to pull hardiness zone 10 north to Pennsylvania. If I can afford to, perhaps I’ll grow pineapples in central Pennsylvania despite cold winters.
Now You Post!
That’s all I have this month. I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate Post Produce with actual, fresh, homegrown vegetables at the very end of winter. Please share yours. Use the widget below to link to your post about what you’re eating from your garden. Thanks for visiting!
One of four 12-pound or larger neck pumpkins I harvested last autumn, this winter squash dwarfs my largest chef’s knife and hangs off both sides of a very large cutting board.
This month’s Post Produce is only barely about winter squash. You see, my dad moved out of our family home. He decided to take an apartment in a progressive care facility, and I’ve been spending a whole lot of time in Ithaca helping him get settled, making repairs in the house, and staging removal of everything. We hope to have the house ready to rent by June.
During my last stint in Lewisburg (where I live), I made a small vat of curried squash soup. To do that, I cut up a 12 pound neck pumpkin and cooked some of it, leaving a big chunk in the refrigerator. When I packed up to return to Ithaca this week, I brought the leftover (uncooked) neck pumpkin along. Tonight, I cooked it.
When I Cook Alone
I tend not to be super-motivated when I cook for myself. I usually cook a meal for six, expecting to eat it over the course of three or four days. I’ll have it for dinner one day, lunch and dinner the next, and so on until it’s gone. The neck pumpkin plays into this scheme for my current stint in Ithaca: I’ll have it and mashed potatoes with the boneless pork ribs I cooked tonight. That ought to get me through the weekend and partway through next week.
The photos show what I did with the squash. This is a super-de-duper-de basic preparation that results in a classic side dish. What makes it special is that the neck pumpkin I used came from my garden in October, and it’s still in great shape in February! Two more neck pumpkins sit in a rocking chair in my dining room and will likely become curried soup, gilled squash, or more mashed squash… it’s hard to predict.
Now You Post!
To participate in this month’s Post Produce, scroll to the bottom of this page. There, use the Linky widget to link to your blog post. Simple; quick. After you link, please visit other bloggers’ Post Produce posts and see what your fellow gardeners are eating.
The neck of a neck pumpkin is solid squash meat. I used about two-thirds of the neck for one batch of soup, one-third of the neck and some slices of the bulb for a second batch of soup, and what was left of the bulb became mashed squash that I’ll eat over the next four or five days.
These are the pieces of neck pumpkin I brought with me to Ithaca: they still need to be peeled and scraped before going into the cook pot. I work on my mom’s in-counter cutting board after clearing off such things as hose washers, giant tweezers, and tungsten microelectrodes. Since my mom died, my dad has reinterpreted the use of the kitchen.
The old vegetable peeler I remember from my earliest days is incredibly dull but still able to cut the skin off a winter squash. My mom left a new, sharper peeler, but that has moved with my dad to his apartment. In case you’re preparing winter squash for your first time, please pare deeply. The flesh directly beneath the skin is firm and bitter, and your squash will taste better if you remove the skin and one or two more layers of flesh.
After peeling the sections, and scraping the stringy stuff from the insides, I cut the squash into fairly large chunks and add them to a pot of water.
The Pyrex pitcher on the right dates back to, perhaps, the 1970s. I heat water in it daily for hot chocolate mixed with instant coffee—that’s my main source of caffeine. Note that I haven’t covered the squash chunks with water; I’ll add a lid to the pot and anything above water will cook in steam. I start the burner on high, but turn it down to medium when the water boils. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for the squash to soften.
When the tip of a knife easily slips through the skin side of the squash chunks, I pour off the water. Then I add two tablespoons of butter and three tablespoons of brown sugar – please add more or less of either to suite your own tastes. I stir with a spoon, superficially mashing individual chunks of squash as I go. I prefer a chunky mixture over a smooth one, but were I cooking this for others I’d use a potato masher.
Here’s the Linky widget. Go ahead: add a link to your Post Produce post. I look forward to seeing what you’re eating from your own garden:
A loaded peanut butter and jelly sandwich will ooze jam when I bite into it. The sweet fruitiness calls back flavors from last year’s growing season.
It’s the first 22nd of 2013; the first Post Produce of the year. Finally, winter has found my small kitchen garden in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. A fresh inch and a half of heavy, dry snow covers an earlier, well-hardened snow that was on the verge of melting away just a few days ago. The thermometer reads eight degrees Fahrenheit as I type, and it’s heading lower as morning approaches.
To celebrate Post Produce in the dead of winter, I’ve only preserves from my garden. We’ve been eating carrots, beans, squash (both summer and winter varieties), pepper relish, and herbs from last year’s garden. While I try to create new combinations and flavors with my own preserves and farmers’ market purchases, a classic, unoriginal, all-American standard has recently exploded back into my repertoire: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches!
Lunch for a Bedtime Snack
We don’t do dessert so much at the Cityslipper ranch, but lately I’ve developed late-night urges for sweet snacks. Having to assemble something to get me through to bedtime, I slapped together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using one piece of bread cut in half, and it satisfied. I guess when you go without dessert long enough, that quasi-nutritional lunch-time standard tastes pretty sweet.
The bread and peanut butter I use for these snacks come from a grocery store, but the jams and jellies come from my larder. In 2012, I made strawberry jam, sour cherry jam, black raspberry jelly, fruit punch jam (sour cherry, black raspberry, and blueberry), peach jelly, grape jelly, and quince jelly.
In the interest of full disclosure, only a few strawberries and fewer blueberries came from my garden, though peaches could have. Black raspberries grow wild across the street from my house, so harvesting and preparing them makes it feel as though I grew them myself.
But wherever the produce comes from, it’s always a joy to make a sandwich using jam or jelly I made from the fruit. I’ve produced videos and written posts about making jam and jelly. I hope you’ll try making some in the coming season; it’s easy to do and a terrific first project when you’re learning to can.
How to make strawberry jam – written instructions
How to make sour cherry jam – written instructions
Now You Post Produce!
Please participate. Write a post on your blog about how you’re using produce from your garden—fresh or preserved… or write about produce that you’re harvesting or planning to harvest. Then return here and use the Linky widget to link to your blog post. Follow other bloggers’ links to see what your fellow gardeners produce.
My hoop tunnels took about 15 minutes to assemble. I started writing about how I built them, but recognizing this is a post celebrating the harvest, I’ll save hoop tunnel instructions for another day. You can see vague leafy shapes through the plastic of the hoop tunnel.
You’ve found the home of Post Produce. Post Produce is a monthly online celebration of homegrown food. I’m posting this month about the lettuce I’ll harvest for my family’s Christmas dinner. I hope you’ll write a post on your blog about your own homegrown food, and return here to share a link back. The linky widget is at the end of this post.
It’s late December. WINTER! That means we’ve had many autumn nights (and days) where the temperature dropped below freezing. Despite the cold, I have fresh lettuce growing in my kitchen garden!
I reported back in October that a late planting of lettuce, spinach, and pak choi was growing nicely in my garden annex and that I had erected the skeleton for a hoop tunnel. I ended up making a second skeleton and draping two hoop tunnels with plastic in early November.
I haven’t harvested heavily from my semi-protected salad patch, but we have had fresh, homegrown greens at several meals even on days when the temperature never rose above freezing. This afternoon, I peeled back the entrance to one of the tunnels to confirm that we will have a fresh lettuce salad at Christmas dinner.
I spotted some damaged leaves on several lettuce plants—obviously frozen through some time ago. Still, the plants look healthy and we’re likely to have lettuce well into January unless the skies remain cloudy and the temperature drops and stays steadily in the low 20s.
Autumn has not challenged my hoop tunnels. While we’ve had an occasionally nighttime low of 24 degrees, soil hasn’t frozen. In fact, pak choi that didn’t make it into the hoop tunnels looks nearly as healthy as its sheltered neighbors. What’s more, my rhubarb plants are confused. They continue to push up new leaves as if they can’t accept that the growing season has ended.
That said, only these cold-hardy plants remain in my garden. Even cilantro has shut down without the benefit of cover, though I expect the plants will revive very early after the spring thaw. This will by my first winter ever in which I’ve served homegrown lettuce salad. It will most likely be the first of many.
Several lettuce leaves in my hoop tunnel are droopy, and a few look as though they’ve frozen and thawed. However, there is clearly enough deliciously fresh-looking lettuce here to fill two or three large salad bowls.
Some pak choi plants ended up inside my hoop tunnels while some remained exposed to the elements. Here, at the beginning of winter, the “outdoor” plants are ready for harvest. This is my first year growing pak choi so I don’t know what temperature will finally kill it off. We’ve had several nights this fall that were cold enough to kill the lettuce plants; without the hoop tunnels we wouldn’t be having homegrown lettuce at Christmas.
This is just weird. I planted what seemed like really sketchy rhubarb roots in the spring—packages I’d bought at a discount store for about a dollar a plant. They’d been packed while dormant in moist soil and sealed in plastic bags, and I’ve no idea how long they sat on the department store shelf at room temperature. Still, they sprouted and thrived in my garden. Now, when there should be no sign of the plants (except, perhaps, for rotted leaves and stems), there are still mature, pink stalks and full-sized leaves. There are even new leaves (like the ones in this photo) emerging on some of the plants. It has been a very mild autumn.
Post About Your Produce
Share your garden produce with the world! Write your own blog post about what you’re eating from your garden. Are you harvesting now? Are your veggies and fruits still on the plants but coming on strong? Are you dipping into your preserves from this past growing season?
After you post, return here and add a link to the widget below. Please join in this month’s celebration of homegrown produce!
Every bean in the casserole came from my small kitchen garden! I harvested and froze several gallons of beans in 2012. Most were yellow wax beans, but I had enough green beans to make a double-sized casserole following the French’s Fried Onion recipe that my mom used when I was a kid (except I use cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom soup).
Post Produce landed a few days late this month. People trying to manage link parties do well to anticipate holidays so they don’t leave participants hanging. I’m not well enough organized for that. I’d have broken several natural laws if I’d written my article early and set it to post automatically while I was baking pies.
It occurred to me: Why not make Post Produce about Thanksgiving? I hope at least some of you used homegrown produce in your Thanksgiving meals. Even more, I hope you’ll share your stories about it! Thanksgiving gives me extra thrills when I can serve goodies that I grew myself.
Photos tell the story. I hope you’ll have a look and then write your own Thanksgiving post. Once your post is up, return here, scroll to the bottom, and add a link back to your article. What did you eat from your garden this Thanksgiving?
My homegrown sweet potatoes looked reasonable, though they hadn’t filled out completely. Sadly, many had started to rot—which you couldn’t see until you peeled and cut into them. So, we (my son, actually), cut out large sections. By the time the pot was full, it contained seven or eight commercial sweet potatoes and as many of my crummy homegrown ones. I hope next year to plant sweet potatoes early and harvest them before frost; two things I failed to do this year.
Not surprisingly, neck pumpkins played a role in my Thanksgiving dinner. These three grew in my garden, and I used the largest—a 17 pounder—to make pumpkin pies. I cut up the squash on Tuesday and baked it for about 90 minutes. Then I pureed the flesh in a blender, and packaged the very smooth pumpkin mash in two-cup portions, most of which I froze. I saved seeds from neck pumpkin and will include them in a giveaway on my blog(s) in January or February.
I was a machine filling sandwich bags with pureed neck pumpkin before I realized I’d filled too many. I managed to put the last portion in a reusable container which I stored with one bag of puree overnight in the refrigerator. On Wednesday, I used these four cups of neck pumpkin puree to make pies. Sandwich bags, by the way, aren’t impermeable enough to preserve food in a freezer. Each holds enough puree for one pie, and I put four or five bags in a single gallon-sized freezer bag.
Didn’t think to snap photos before the gang had dessert. After lunch on the day after Thanksgiving, I photographed what remained of five pies I’d baked on Wednesday. We had already finished off a sour cherry pie (frozen during cherry season), and a pumpkin pie. What remained was part of an apple pie, most of a second pumpkin pie, and about half of an apple/pear/raisin spice pie I improvised from stuff in the fridge. To be clear, only the pumpkin pie contained homegrown produce, though I made from grapes the raisins I used in the apple/pear/raisin spice pie.
Post Produce on your blog, then return here and add a link back to your post. Because Post Produce is late this month, think of it as Post Produce weekend rather than Post Produce day! Share the produce you served at Thanksgiving from your own garden:
Harvested on the eve of sub-freezing temperatures, these are all but two of my winter squashes for the year. One not shown appeared in an earlier post titled Neck Pumpkin! and weighed 17 pounds. These together probably weigh 30 pounds. One obviously needs to ripen but I’m confident it will do that once I move it indoors.
This month’s Post Produce falls on the winter side of the craziest chill I can remember. We’ve had several freezes where the temperature dropped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but we have not yet had frost! The deep cold killed all my summer food plants, but left lettuce, spinach, and pak choi unscathed.
Anticipating the cold nights, I had harvested my winter squash, the few tomatoes that weren’t yet showing blight, and as many beans as I could handle. The winter squash are under a beach towel on the picnic table on the porch. Most of the tomatoes rotted while I was away at a conference. The beans are in the freezer.
Falling Back on Preserves
Tonight, for the first time since tomatoes ripened in July, I started drawing down my larder. I use a jar of cut-up tomatoes and another of tomato sauce to make a simple meal of spaghetti and meat sauce. I also used a basil ice cube for seasoning and harvested some lettuce from the patch I planted on September fifth. I have such mixed feelings: sad to be breaking into the preserves, and happy still to have salad growing next to the kids’ climbing tower (I wish I’d thought to take photos before it got dark).
Not a lot of pictures this month, but they complete the story. Now please share yours! Create your own blog post that celebrates what you’re eating from your own garden. Then use the linky widget below (scroll past the photos) to link back to your post! Follow this link for more about Post Produce.
I haven’t yet stored all the canned goods I processed through the growing season so I’m not sure how many pints of tomato sauce and cut-up tomatoes I have. I used a pint of each to cook up spaghetti sauce.
These may look disgusting, but they’re packed with fresh basil flavor. Just before the freeze, I harvested all my basil, put the leaves and smaller stems in the blender with some water, and pureed them into slurry. Then I filled the compartments of this ice cube tray and set the tray to freeze. One cube provides peak-season intensity for spaghetti or pizza sauce. Sadly, I’ve only 13 cubes to last until spring. Next year I plant more basil!
As I sat down to write this month’s Post Produce post, a pot of cooked-down tomatoes was cooling on the stove. I’ll mill the tomatoes, cook the sauce a bit more to thicken it, and can it to use later in spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, taco sauce, curry, or some other delectable.
With the end of summer in Central Pennsylvania, my small kitchen garden is being overly optimistic. So much is growing strong, and I can’t keep up with the harvest. As I sit down to write this month’s Post Produce post, a pot of tomatoes cools on the stove; it’s ready for the food mill and I’ll can it as sauce later today.
For dinner last night, I cooked up a pan of rice and barley seasoned with tomatoes, peppers, and basil from my garden as well as onions from the farmers’ market. I’ve a large bowl of tomatoes ripening, and more on the plants wanting to come inside. There are peppers on almost every plant on my deck and in the main planting bed as well. I’ve poblanos, bells, and jalapenos, many finally turning red as the nights get cooler.
Both the climbing beans and the bush beans continue to produce. Some are losing nutritional value in my refrigerator, though I continue to blanch and freeze as I harvest new ones.
The photos show what I’m consuming from my garden. I hope you’ll Post Produce today to celebrate (and show off) what you’re harvesting to eat. After you post come back here and use the Linky widget below to link back to your post. I look forward to seeing what my fellow bloggers are enjoying from their gardens as autumn begins.
I planted about 86 tomato plants in my small kitchen garden this year. Despite some early blight and the recent appearance of late blight, there are plenty of tomatoes still to harvest. Tomatoes that mature on short days with cool nights are less flavorful than hot-season tomatoes. I’m happy to make sauce from whatever I harvest near the end of the growing season.
Last night’s dinner included pan-boiled rice. This is a great one-skillet dish to accompany grilled chicken, beef, or pork: In 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sauté a medium onion and a sweet pepper, diced (the pepper I used appears in a photo below). Add a cup and a half of long-grained rice (I used a mixture of long-grained and basmati), and stir it to coat it with oil. Cook the rice and vegetables for about 5 minutes, then deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of wine. Let that cook as you cut up two or three medium tomatoes and add them to the pan. Stir everything together, add 3 cups of chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, and float a generous bundle of chopped herbs on top. I used a huge wad of basil tonight, but use oregano, thyme, basil, cayenne, pepper—whatever floats your boat. Cover the skillet and set the temperature to medium-low, and let it simmer until the rice is tender—about 15 minutes. I finish mine by adding ¼ pound of cheese, letting it melt, and then stirring it in. Tonight I used provolone and some grated parmesan. Other nights I used cheddar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Oh, for tonight’s batch, I cooked up a quarter cup of barley in a separate pot, and stirred it into the rice when I added the chicken stock. The texture of long-grained rice, basmati, and barley is novel and quite pleasant.
The dining room table is my loading dock for canned goods. I accumulate 36 or more jars of produce during the week and finally sit down to label them on the weekend. Then I lug them to the billiards room. The stack next to the pool table is large, but so far I haven’t put many jars on the storage shelves; I’ll have time for that when the garden stops producing.
At this time of year, some of the most important produce from my small kitchen garden is seeds from the vegetables and fruits I eat. I’ve collected seeds from six types of tomatoes and two types of peppers—my poblano plants produced pleasingly prodigiously. Soon, I’ll harvest butternut squash and neck pumpkins and will save seeds from them as well.
The poblanos are gorgeous this year! I started them from seeds of plants I grew last season and will be happy to start the next generation in February. I grew all the poblanos in containers so they’re a bit smaller than commercially-grown peppers but they’ve put on a terrific show on my deck. This pepper came off the plant, posed for the photo, and went into my skillet in the span of about ten minutes.
Here’s the Linky widget. Go ahead! Post your own Produce, then use the linky to link to your post:
Black, red, orange, and white tomatoes (with a little diced onion) were the base for a salad I made earlier this month. I love the colors though white tomatoes have yet to win me over: it’s weird to eat a tomato that looks like that.
The main issue for August’s Post Produce at Your Small Kitchen Garden is tomatoes! Sure, there are gorgeous purple jalapenos, a few bell peppers finally turning red, more zucchini (frost probably won’t even shut down those plants), carrots, plenty of herbs, and even the last of the cucumbers. But tomatoes usually make my gardening season, and this has been a terrific year.
I bought seeds this year to grow tomatoes of many colors: black, red, orange, yellow, and white. The earliest tomatoes were black followed quickly by white and orange. Actually, we’ve had tomatoes of all the colors (except yellow) from early in August.
For entertainment, I grew a disproportionate number of white tomato plants. The plan was to cook down several pints of sauce using just white tomatoes. I would eventually use the sauce in traditional dishes such as spaghetti, pizza, or lasagna. At best, I figured, this would be a conversation starter. At worst? A conversation starter.
Things couldn’t have gone better (though I’ve yet to use any of the white tomato sauce I preserved). The photos tell the story.
Here’s the tomato that started me dreaming of white tomato sauce. Cream Sausage is a paste tomato that starts greenish white on the vine and ripens to a somewhat reddish white. The vines seem to be determinate which I didn’t know when I planted them. I’ll grow these again, but I’ll support them with tomato cages rather than with a hanging string trellis.
White Queen is a white slicing tomato. You can tell when it’s ready to eat because it looks “warmer” as it ripens. I used a bunch of these in my tomato sauce along with the cream sausage tomatoes.
I filled a 4 gallon pot with cut-up white tomatoes, simmered it for several hours, and put the cooked tomatoes through a food mill. I cooked the milled tomatoes a bit longer until I had just over a gallon of sauce, and then I canned the sauce. If you’d like to see how this all works using red tomatoes, have a look at my video titled Make and Can Tomato Sauce from Your Home Kitchen Garden.
The slightly off-white color of my white tomatoes didn’t hold through cooking and canning. Still, few would guess that these canning jars hold pure tomato sauce. My next batch will be red. Depending on how quickly I get to it, I might follow that up with orange tomato sauce as well. There’s no significant difference in flavor from one sauce to the other, but having different colors from which to choose adds a bit of whimsy whenever I cook with tomato sauce.
Now You Post Produce
What edibles are you consuming from your garden? Write about it on your blog, then use the Linky widget below and link back to your post. Visit other posters’ blogs to see what homegrown goodies they’re consuming.
Summer? Summer squash! I planted three zucchini seeds and have harvested a zucchini per day (on average) for about 16 days. Yes, I knew before I planted them that this is how zucchini works. I’m not excited to eat this amazing produce, but the plant is awe-inspiring. So far I’ve sautéed zucchini with onions, grated it into zuke & carrot slaw, skewered it on chicken shish kabobs, grilled it straight, cooked some into a cordon bleu casserole, baked up six loaves of zucchini bread, and frozen six cups of it grated. I’m falling behind. There are four zucchinis in my produce drawer and another will be ready to harvest tomorrow.
My small kitchen garden is just days away from peak season if there is such a thing. Because my most favored crops are spring peas and summer tomatoes, I might choose either harvest as peak season. On the other hand, when the garden is producing all kinds of goodies at once, that’s real nice too.
For this month’s Post Produce, the pictures tell the story. I left a lot out; there’s just too much for a single post.
Post Your Produce
With 60% of the United States in drought, I hope your kitchen garden is providing at least a few things to lift your spirits. Please share! Create a post on your blog that celebrates what you’re eating, preserving, or growing to eat from your garden. Then return here and use the Mr Linky widget to link to your post. Visit other linked blogs, see what gardening enthusiasts are eating, and show them some comment love. The Linky is at the end of this post.
Isn’t summer grand?
Zucchini bread is what led me to plant zukes this season for my first time ever. My kids insist that zucchini bread is the best quick bread, and I hated buying zucchini to be able to make it. By the time I finish freezing grated zucchini, we’ll be set to make bread well into next summer.
Three hills of cucumber plants sit adjacent to my zucchinis. For the first time ever, I’ve produced very attractive cucumbers — for two seasons, my container cucumbers came out small and misshapen. I planted only pickling cucumbers, and every one I’ve harvested would make an awesome pickle barrel dill or half-sour.
I’ve already made pickles with some of my harvest. About sixteen cucumbers and four onions from my small kitchen garden went into a batch of quick-pickled bread-and-butter pickles. I gave away one pint, have been snacking on a second, and put three more into the larder. I wish my family liked pickles; these are delicious.
I found purple jalapeno peppers in a seed catalog and incorporated them into my “rainbow produce theme.” I bought seeds for red, orange, yellow, white, purple, and brown peppers. Sadly, the white and yellow pepper seeds didn’t sprout. The purple jalapeno plants make the most beautiful pepper flowers I’ve seen, and the pepper fruits are also quite attractive. These will become a standard in my vegetable garden.
I rushed a few of these peppers off the plants, but I expect to have time this weekend to make red pepper relish … except that it won’t be red. I plan to combine the “lilac” bell peppers and the “chocolate” bell peppers in this pile to make a brownish-purple pepper relish. I can’t predict the actual finished color. Purple and brown peppers I’ve grown in past years were green on the inside, and the skins tend to turn green during cooking. Even if the relish comes out green, it’ll make great appetizers. Here’s a link to the recipe: Red Pepper Relish from Your Home Kitchen Garden.
Herbs are growing gangbusters in my small kitchen garden. This basil pot is ready for display among ornamental planters. Leaves from these plants will go into the salad I make with my first serious harvest of tomatoes. I’ve already enjoyed cilantro, oregano, thyme, sage, and mint in various dishes, and I’ve made a few batches of béarnaise sauce using French tarragon from my herb patch.
This year’s “rainbow produce theme” extended to my tomato selections as well as my peppers. I got seeds for red, orange, yellow, black, and white tomatoes — somehow overlooked green ones. For ripening earliest, the white and black tomatoes are in a dead heat. The photo shows “cream sausage” paste tomatoes. This morning I discovered two that had developed blossom end rot and were otherwise fully ripe. After I trimmed the rot away, there was enough ripe tomato left for about three bites. You know what? Tasted like honest-to-goodness home-grown tomato! I’ll can a batch of white tomato sauce this season and serve a white lasagna or pizza that’s just as tomato-y as any traditionally red lasagna or pizza. Tomato season can’t begin soon enough.
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