Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Catching Up

We had great fun during our week off in Pentwater, Michigan. But the gardener has to ask himself whether he can really afford a summer vacation.

While we were away frolicking in the sun, our vegetables were working overtime. I returned home to a big bowl of Roma tomatoes. Another bowl of okra. Another bowl of cucumbers.

Granted, a bowl of this and a bowl of that doesn't amount to much in the grand scheme of things. But we are not about to waste food. There was nothing to do but put our heads down and start canning.

In the picture above, you see the Roma tomatoes after 15 seconds--in batches--in a boiling water bath, then stripped of their skins. After trimming the stem end, I chopped them all into medium dice, boiled them for five minutes then canned them in two quart jars with 45 minutes processing.

The okra also made two quarts of Texas-style pickles with garlic and fresh jalapeno pepper. The cucumbers made two quarts of "crock" pickles--quartered, seeded and put away in a brine of cider vinegar and powdered mustard.

The next task was start start weeding some of our overgrown beds. In the process, I collected close to 10 pounds of potatoes and enough beets to make a large quantity of our favorite garden salad: beets, tomatoes and red onion with a splash of red wine vinegar.

By this time, daughter was anxious to get in on the act. (We're into that dreaded zone of 10 days between camp and the re-start of school. What's an 8-year-old to do?) We used the forked spade to dig up carrots, and went on a tomato patrol. The Mortgage Lifters and Cherokee Purples are hitting their stride now, producing some giant-sized fruit that lines up on the kitchen counter for final ripening.

Finally, we have some panty hose to start putting our storage onions away. We need to figure a system for keeping potatoes in our space-challenged pantry. We are eating pickles like mad, but not fast enough to prevent a pileup of filled jars.

And it's almost time to make room for fall plantings. The fun just never ends.


Kevin said...

Did you know you can simply freeze raw tomatoes whole? Simply wash them, dry them, and place them in a freezer bag. When you thaw them the skin comes right off.

Ed Bruske said...

Kevin, I have never tried freezing a tomato like that. What we need is a bigger freezer.