Thursday, October 7, 2010
September was a big harvest month for us here in Vermont. I've been fully occupied with harvesting the bounty of my garden. We've had a bumper crop of tomatoes. The weather this summer was apparently just exactly what they needed. We had a lot of rain in the spring and then it dried up towards the end of summer. Leaving us with more tomatoes than I've ever had, lots of onions, broccoli, butternut squash and pole beans as well. Going out and picking food for dinner is simply a wonderful experience.
It does make me wonder about the stuff I find in the supermarket. If I pick a head of broccoli and leave it for a day or two is quickly goes yellow. How is it possible that the broccoli in the store stays green for the weeks it takes to get to the supermarket shelves? You don't have to answer that. I know....it is just rather discouraging to have such a contrast with the fresh organic stuff directly from the garden. Chemical preservatives are much easier to ignore if you don't grow your own food....but hard to forget once you've made the connection.
Speaking of Broccoli. For much of the summer I had a running battle with a groundhog who was intent on chomping on my broccoli plants. Of course, I would never do anything to harm him, but it was a little frustrating. Each time they sprouted a stalk he would come along and chew it back. Well, I finally gave in and planted a separate broccoli garden on the other side of the house. The groundhog never found these plants and we had broccoli all summer. Imagine my surprise when I found these huge broccoli heads on the plants the groundhog had been munching on all summer. Apparently his munching caused the plant to grow multiple stalks and gave me a late harvest of wonderful broccoli. Living in harmony with nature is much more plesant than bending her to our will.
Finally, I want to share some of the ways I’ve been dealing with all the tomatoes.
Freezing Tomatoes - Freezing tomatoes couldn't be easier. First you dunk them in boiling water for about 45 seconds. This causes the skin to peel off. Freezing without the skin is recommended. Once the skin is off, I cut the tomatoes into chunks and squeeze most of the seeds out. I've been heir looming seeds, so they are dried and stored for next year. (Let me know if you need directions on how to store tomato seeds) The tomatoes are then put into freezer bags and put in the freezer...too easy!
Salsa - The other simple project for the tomatoes I've been doing has been making salsa. This is also very easy. Cut up 3 quarts of tomatoes and put them in a big pot with about 5 medium onions. I add a couple of chili peppers to give it a mild spice. Next add 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of salt, and 4 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken it. Cook all of this at a low boil for 45 minutes and then simmer for another 30-40 minutes. When they are ready, pack into pint jars and seal. Boil in a hot water bath for 30 minutes. The finished product is ready for storage. You can bypass the hot water bath, but you will need to eat the salsa within a month or so.
wishing you much peace...