This week brought a forecast for our first killing frost, right on schedule for our area. That had me scrambling to harvest and process all of the warm season vegetables before it was too late. As it turned out, we had frost here two mornings in a row but it didn’t seem to kill anything. Still, we had a lot of tender vegetables in the garden and I didn’t want to take any chances.
Favorable weather had brought on a lot of green tomatoes lately. I got 18 pounds of them, and even left a few of the smaller ones on the vine. What can you do with all those green tomatoes? Well, I made Green Tomato Chutney and Green Tomato Salsa Verde for starters.
The chutney was a recipe I found online, and had a nice sweet/tart taste. It reminds me a lot of the green tomato relish my mother used to make, though this one was spicier. That still left me with a lot of green tomatoes though.
The Salsa Verde was another recipe I found online. I made it without the cilantro, since I didn’t have any on hand and figured I could always add it later. The salsa will be great with beans, tacos, burritos and other Mexican entrees. This one was good enough I decided to make another batch so we could have some in the freezer.
And of course we had fried green tomatoes. They got sliced and salted, then dredged in a 50/50 mix of flour and corn meal. I fried them in a little vegetable oil seasoned with a spoonful of our locally sourced lard. Oh what a treat!
But I still have some green tomatoes. I’m thinking about making some Green Tomato Bread. And I saved a few of the pinkish ones to let them turn red. I don’t think they have a lot of flavor, but we will get some use out them in the kitchen. It will be a long time before we have ripe ones again! But I’m still looking for ideas on how to use or preserve the remaining green ones.
We did have some nice ripe tomatoes as well. I sliced a Cherokee Purple and an Eva’s Purple Ball that went on BLT sandwiches. There’s nothing like a nice ripe tomato in late October! And my wife made a batch of vegetable soup using some of the fresh ripe tomatoes.
The pepper plants were loaded with peppers too, both the sweet and hot types. I dried some more, and also chopped and froze some of the bell peppers. I roasted most of the mild Anaheim type chili peppers on the grill, then I skinned, chopped and froze them. The best producers this year were Anaheim and Biggie Chili, but Numex Sunrise did well too and gave us some lovely yellow sweet/hot ripe peppers. I had plenty of jalapenos and serranos too, but for some reason the Ancho/Poblanos didn’t do well. It is possible they didn’t like the wet conditions we had most of the season.
I saved some of the biggest sweet peppers for stuffing later in the week. I’ll make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for later. That’s another way I’ve found to enjoy the peppers a little bit longer.
And I had to do something with the last of the basil, so I made another batch of pesto. This time I followed Mandy’s tip and used toasted sunflower seeds instead of walnuts or pine nuts. It was really quite tasty, and worth trying again next year. Toasting the sunflower seeds really brings out their flavor. The frost seems to have spared the basil, so we may be able to enjoy it a bit longer. But then I really need to pull it up and plant that bed with some Asian greens. It’s hard to be ruthless with basil! Maybe I’ll give it a few more days.
And despite the overload of summer vegetables we still managed to enjoy some of the cool season ones. I made a nice salad with lettuce, arugula, tomato, sweet peppers and a China Rose radish for lunch. With any luck we should have salad greens all winter with our plantings in the cold frames and greenhouse.
Well, that’s what I have been harvesting here at the end of October. To see more gardeners’ harvests from all around the world, visit Daphne’s Dandelions on Harvest Mondays!