Monday, August 30, 2010

Preserving the Garden is in Full Swing

It has been a very productive week. Gardening has several fun stages and this is definitely one of them - putting up the harvest!
beets sparkling in the sun
I finished putting up beets by pickling them - 8 beautiful quarts!  We ate fresh beets all late spring and summer and they were utterly delicious. I tried Bulls Blood Beets from Seed Savers Exchange and they were remarkably sweet.  These beets are French in origin and have the darkest deep magenta leaves. I used the leaves for salad and steamed the baby beet tops in the sping when they were young and tender. For a bit of trivia, the juice from these beets is used to make the only red food coloring allowed by Swedish law. Many people say they aren't beet lovers but I don't understand that at all especially if one eats beets fresh from the garden - steamed with a little real butter and salt & pepper.  I will definitely get the same kind of beets next year since we both enjoyed them so much.
Endamame (soybeans) fresh from the garden
Also, I froze the Endamame (soybeans) and what a crop! This is the first harvest and with what is left maturing on the plants, we will have at least a couple more harvests.  This first harvest produced 9 quarts which I froze. They are great for a snack with just a little salt. You put them in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then shell and add salt. I hear that this is "bar food" in Japan like peanuts are used in the US.  I know they are served in Asian restaurants in California as appetizers. This will be another treat in the dead of winter.

I harvested enough cucumbers for 4 jars of dill pickles.  There are still lots of blossoms on the plants so hopefully I'll get more jars. I didn't realize that I had ordered 'pickling' cucumbers from Seed Savers Exchange but it was lucky since no market or food stand seems to have carried them this year. These plants originated in Russia and were brought over by immigrants, they are simply called 'Bushy Cucumbers'.  I'm not sure why because they sprawl just like all cucumbers and aren't bushy at all. Oh well. At least I'll get a few more jars as they ripen to just the perfect size.  Now I'm on the search for dill - I didn't plant enough and used what I had for the first pickles. Next year I'll make sure to plant both eating cukes and pickling cukes along with plenty of dill. You can eat pickling cucumbers fresh, but I don't like the taste as well.
Grape leaf pickles look the
same as the other pickles I made
 but I won't know if there is a taste
difference for six weeks!
We were at dinner with Connie and Gary B at the local winery when we had the discussion about grape leaves pickles and how the grape leaf makes the pickles more crisp. So on our way out of the winery we picked a few leaves from the vines and voila - with Connie's recipe, I have my first jar of Grape Leaves Pickles. I can't wait to try them - in 6 weeks. Here is Connie's intriguing recipe  for Grape Leaves Pickles:
4    oz white vinegar (5% acidity)
2-3 garlic cloves, cut in half
1    tsp alum
1    T pickling salt
2    heads fresh dill
fresh cucumbers to fill a quart jar
sliced onions, optional
grape leaves, optional

Place all the above ingredients in a sterilized quart jar; add hard boiling water to top it off and seal with hot lid and ring.  Place in boiling water in canner and process for 30 minutes.  DO NOT EAT FOR 6 WEEKS

We then went to one of Connie & Gary's farm fields to pick apples from an old apple tree.  Gary and Mark picked a couple bags of apples in no time and I am thrilled that I now have a source for apples. That will be my next big project - freeze a bunch of fresh apples just off the tree.

I finished the week with the last lug of peaches, luscious, delicious peaches.  I used the recipes that sister Bonnie sent with an adjustment for "no sugar" pectin - which simply means less sugar by almost half. She found the recipes in the local newspaper and tried them with 2 thumbs up so she forwarded the recipes to me.  Thanks Bonnie! BTW, I love to share recipes so if you have a favorite please do send to me. Here they are, Peach Ginger Preserves and Peach Raspberry Jam. Both are fabulous pairings.


4 1/2 C diced peeled peaches
2       T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 T shredded fresh ginger (a zester works great)
1/2    tsp butter (to prevent foaming)
1        pack pectin (no sugar style; Ball or Sure Jell)
3        sugar (this is 2 1/2 cups LESS sugar than the regular recipe)

Place diced peaches, lemon juice, ginger, butter and pectin in a large pot. Over high heat, bring to a strong boil. Add sugar quickly, and stirring frequently, bring to a rolling boil. Stir for 1 minute while it is boiling. Check for signs of jelling.  If the mixture runs off your metal spoon like water, more boiling is needed. If it runs off like teardrop drips, go 30 seconds to a minute longer.
Pack in clean sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. 
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove from canner, let stand until cool to room temperature.
The lids should 'pop' and once they do, it is safe to store.  Otherwise, if a jar doesn't pop, put it in the refrigerator and use right away.
YIELD: 6 half pint jars


3    C ripe diced peeled peaches
1    C crushed red raspberries (fresh or frozen OK)
1    T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp butter (to prevent foaming) 
1    box Ball or Sure Jell no sugar needed pectin
3    C sugar

Combine prepared fruit, lemon juice, butter & pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Stir in sugar quickly and bring back to rolling boil while stirring constantly.Stir for 1 minute while it is boiling. Check for signs of jelling. If the mixture runs off your metal spoon like water, more boiling is needed. If it runs off like teardrop drips, go 30 seconds to a minute longer.
Pack in clean sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove from canner, let stand until cool to room temperature.
The lids should 'pop' and once they do, it is safe to store. Otherwise, if a jar doesn't pop, put it in the refrigerator and use quickly.
YIELD: 6 half pint jars

The lovely finished jam

I'm harvesting potatoes for storage in the root cellar.The sweet potatoes and the rest of the winter squash will be the next big harvests but they are not quite ready yet.

We are refreshing the raised bed tanks and I've used one to plant fall green crops - lettuce, arugula, spinach and Swiss chard.

the layers on the pie dough
There are still tomatoes on the vine along with blossoms so we'll be enjoying them for awhile longer. I had leftover pie dough in the fridge so decided to make savory tomato galette (peasant pie) for supper.

I rolled out the dough, then put a few thin pats of butter on the bottom, next layered thinly sliced onion from the garden, then torn Swiss chard from the garden, next fresh mozzarella cheese, then our fresh picked tomatoes sliced, along with some grape and cherry tomatoes, and finally topped with torn purple basil from the garden & a drizzle of olive oil over the filling. I brushed the dough with egg wash & a sprinkle of fresh black pepper; then baked for 40 minutes @ preheated 350 degree oven and it was a "Do It Again" recipe according to Mark, the official taste tester in the house!
folding the pie dough into a galette
I tend to cook by inspiration vs actual recipes when cooking. The galette is one of those inspiration dishes based on what is available in the refrigerator, pantry and garden. It is such a fun and creative way to cook.  As I've told you before, I've learned to write down the successes or they will never be repeated again!

galette ready for the oven

finished galette - Delicious!!

The garden and harvesting has been great fun including the work. Though I'm looking forward to fall so we can clean up the garden and yard and prepare the garden for next spring. After that, it will be a change of pace and I'll be able to create lots of delicious meals from the fruits (& veggies) of my labor! I'll share recipes this winter. I'm sure I'll spend time planning the layout of the garden for next year and checking out the seed catalogues.  I'll also have time to think about other creative endeavors for the winter. You'll be in the know - as soon as I know what they are!

These are the new onion sets growing on the top of
the "winter onion" which gets planted for next
years onion crop. This is what we planted this week.
Butternut and acorn squash
I'm moving all the winter onions and garlic to a raised bed tank from the ground beds so they can grow unmolested by weeds and other aggressive growing things. Mark planted the sets from the winter onions (see picture above) and have nearly 1/2 raised bed tank planted with onions (250) & another 1/4 tank is planted with garlic. We use so much of these veggies that we decided we needed more for next year. Mark helped me in the garden with some early cleanup and planting.  He added Miracle-Grow soil to the empty tanks and then rototilled - now it is rich growing soil. Next year I'll have compost and old manure to add but it's not ready yet this year.  While Mark was taking care of the projects above, I gathered the dry beans to shell and also harvested several winter squash which is ripe.  I didn't want the squash to become so huge that it wouldn't be practical to keep or to eat. I have it drying in the house, getting it ready for the root cellar.

There are still many squash of both types that are maturing and some still growing so it should be a good sized harvest for the winter.  We love squash so that is lovely. I'd sure welcome your favorite winter squash recipes.  Matt G already sent a wonderful recipe for baked butternut squash which is now in our repertoire. Thank you Matt.
My happy kitchen guy
Here is my 'kitchen guy' which was a gift from family a few years ago. He's been with me quite awhile. He's my mortar and pestle and always has a smile for me in the kitchen.  Just thought I'd share a picture of this hardworking guy.

another pic of soybeans that I can't delete for some reason! but they are pretty, aren't they?


Janet said...

I just want to visit you this winter and eat all the wonderful garden produce that you are freezing or canning. What a bounty of crops you've had. And love all the pictures, makes me feel lazy. I did make apricot jam from a tree that didn't procuce in the first four years we were here until this year. An old tree that we didn't know was apricot.

Anonymous said...

O M G!!! It just keeps going and going. What wonderful rewards you are reaping from all your hard work. I have been able to purchase small bags of edemame in Safeway in Rapid City and just love them. I tried to buy some from a farmer fact I went to they field and was going to pick some, but they weren't ready....would that be stealing? I guess so. I like to enjoy them cold and salted with a cold brew to sip. All of your canned goods look amazing. You are making your mama proud. See you soon! Sandy

Janet said...

Need to proof my comment better. Produce, not procuce.

Faraz said...

Hi Delores, my god where do you get all this energy? You guys rock! I want all your products, do you sell and ship to California?! And with all these goodies do you need to go to store at all? You have everything now. I wish I was there. Wish you the best, Faraz.