Making the Most of your Vegetable Garden Harvest

The time for harvesting your herb and vegetable garden is drawing near.  In the spirit of the season, here are a few inventive, along with tried-and-true, methods for getting the most out of your green patch before winter.

Herbs

Even if you plan to pot and move your herbs indoors for winter, they still need to be cut back.  For surplus herbs, freeze them in olive oil and enjoy fresh herbs throughout the chilly months.  You can organize your herbs by type as well as prepare a bouquet garni for those special dishes.  Here’s how:  buy ice cube trays, divide herbs into the cube slots and cover with extra virgin olive oil. The oil actually guards the herbs against browning as well as freezer burn.  Keep the trays in the freezer, covered in saran wrap and pop them out for herb-infused deliciousness!  Bon Appetit!

Tomatoes

The end of summer inevitably delivers an abundance of tomatoes.  After you’ve ingested as much bruschetta and ceviche as you can possibly stand, turn to your pressure canner for preserving the remainder of your tomatoes for the long days of winter ahead.  Due to their pH levels, tomatoes should be preserved in a pressure canner as opposed to a canning bath.  You can preserve your tomatoes whole, make zesty marinara sauce or really spice things up with homemade salsa, which is also a great concoction for your unused peppers.  Here are a couple recipes to get you started.

Zesty Marinara Sauce

5 kg of tomatoes

15 garlic cloves

¼ cup olive oil

1 bunch of green onions

1 sprig rosemary

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

2 TB fresh oregano

½ yellow onion, diced

1 TB red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Boil tomatoes  until skins easily slip off then remove.  Brown garlic cloves and onion in olive oil.  Add skinless tomatoes and simmer as you crush the tomatoes.  Add herbs and seasoning then simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove pot and let cool.  Puree the sauce to your liking in a commercial blender.  Now you’re ready to can.  Follow your pressure canner’s instructions for pressure and timing.  Buon Appetito!

Homemade Salsa Caliente

8 fresh tomatoes (Feel free to mix varietals of tomatoes for complexity) 

4 anaheim peppers

2 jalapenos (leave the seeds in for extra spice)

1 garlic cloves

juice from 1 lime 

¼ small white onion

¼ cup of fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Blend the ingredients in a vitamix or commerical blender.  Can according to your pressure canner's time and pressure instructions.  Serve with tortilla chips or tacos. Provecho!

Cucumbers

To beat any store bought brand, use your pressure cooker to can pickles that can be enjoyed throughout the year.  If you’re lucky enough to have okra in your garden, can ‘em before they get too large.  The mid-size will give you the most snap in your garters.

A Lil' Spice Pickled Cucumbers or Okra

1 kg okra or cucumber

5 garlic cloves

5 red peppers (dried is fine)

2 tsp dill seeds

4 cups white vinegar

4 cups water

6 tsp pickling salt

This recipe will make 4 pints of pickled cucumbers or okra.  Increase the recipe for as it suits you.  Bring the water, vinegar and seasoning to a boil then pour over the pickles/okra and peppers.  Follow your canner’s instructions for time.  Enjoy! 

 

Tags: canning tomatoes, Diet, harvest, herbs, marinara sauce, pickled cucumbers, pickled okra, preserve, salsa, vegetable garden

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