Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’ve got lots of stuff to cover so I will get right to it! Winter squash are still coming in here as they mature. I pulled up most of the dead vines to make room for a fall planting of turnips. I’ve got a few plants left growing, but most are done for. In the below photo there’s the Honey Nut Baby Butternut along with a giant Butternut Rugosa (aka Violina Rugosa). The Butternut Rugosa weighed right at 6 pounds, while the Baby HoneyNut averaged a little over 10 ounces each. Both will need to be stored a bit before we get a taste of them.
The tomatoes are nearing the end but I still managed to harvest over 30 pounds of them last week. Juliet is keeping us well supplied with tomatoes for processing. There’s almost two gallons of them in the colander.
The bush paste tomatoes are about done too, but I got a big bucket of them last week. It’s mostly Viva Italia and Health Kick in the below photo, right at 10 pounds of them. We used all the tomatoes to make another batch of Homemade Ketchup, plus a batch of unseasoned tomato sauce. I saved a few out for another project though.
I ground up the last of the 2015 dried Aji Panca peppers to make a chile powder. Aji Panca is a baccatum pepper with mild heat, and is the second most popular pepper in Peruvian cuisine (behind the Aji Amarillo). The dried peppers are described as having a berrylike, smoky flavor, and I can even detect a hint of coffee or cacao to them. I’m growing it again this year, but the peppers are nowhere near ripe yet. I used some of the paste tomatoes and the ground Aji Panca to make a red enchilada sauce to top a batch of bean enchiladas I cooked up one night. That might not be how the Aji Panca peppers are used in Peru, but they sure made for a tasty enchilada sauce here at HA!
I harvested two more of the Captain Lucky tomatoes last week. This one has proven to be a new favorite here this summer for sandwiches and for just eating sliced. The vines are still going, and I hope they might put on another flush of fruit for later on.
Eggplants are still coming in too. That’s a pair of Galine in the below photo. We’ve been enjoying them prepared in a number of ways.
We used one of them to make a grilled eggplant and pesto sandwich. We layered slices of the grilled eggplant with cheese, basil pesto, sliced tomato (Captain Lucky) and a bit of lettuce (from the grocery). The photo doesn’t really do the sandwich justice, but it turned out very tasty and we plan on making it again as long as the eggplant and tomatoes hold out.
I continue to get ripe peppers from the garden, though it’s more of a drip than a deluge. Celia Dulce is a Mexican heirloom pepper that I thought was going to be sweet, given the ‘dulce’ in the name and the description at Dustbowl Seeds, where I ordered them. The peppers turned out pretty spicy though. I sent an email to them asking if this was normal, and they confirmed I have a Not Celia Dulce instead of the real deal. I also think it’s interesting that these peppers are showing the ‘corking’ on the skin that is common on jalapeno peppers. I do think they might be good smoked, which I may do if I get a few more of them or others to make it worth my while to fire up the grill. We will see what happens in the pepper patch the next few days. I could even smoke some green Numex types, of which I have plenty at the moment.
A real treat last week came to us by way of our friend Jane, who shared some of her paw paw harvest with us. Jane planted her trees a few years before we did, and has been getting fruit for a couple of years now. The two in the below photo come from a Pennsylvania Golden Paw Paw tree, and were very soft and ripe. The Pawpaw is native to eastern parts of the U.S. and southern Canada. The leaves and twigs produce a chemical that serves as a natural insecticide, and the trees are rarely eaten by rabbits or deer. It does take at least two genetically different trees for pollination to occur, and for that reason we have three different varieties planted here: Mango, Wabash and Shenandoah. According to this Purdue University bulletin, the easy to grow trees are rarely bothered by pests, and also serve as a larval host to the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly, so they got that going for them too.
My wife and I had never tasted a pawpaw before, so planting our trees was truly a leap of faith. The taste of the fruit is wonderful and a bit hard to describe. The texture is much like a custard or pudding, very smooth and with a great mouth feel. After cutting the fruit open, we ate the flesh with a spoon, popping the large black seeds in our mouth to get every last bit of flesh. The aroma and taste reminds me of a vanilla/banana pudding, with tropical overtones of mango or perhaps even pineapple thrown in. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our tasting, and thanks again to Jane for sharing some of her precious harvest with us! Now I can’t wait for our own harvests, which should be coming in another year or two.
And speaking of pawpaws, I was checking on our pawpaw trees and pulling a few weeds when I spotted an Eastern Box Turtle snoozing at the base of one tree. My wife and I have had a running joke for years, after she saw a box turtle shortly after we bought the place. She called him Timmy, and the only proof he ever existed was a single photo she managed to get of it and post in a scrapbook. We never saw him again here at HA, or any other turtles for that matter. Anytime I see a turtle anywhere, I am likely to ask “is that Timmy?”, even if it’s on fabric.
But that changed Saturday when I found Tommy, or maybe Tammy, since I didn’t disturb the turtle enough to ask its name. It was a welcome sight regardless, and a sign that our habitat is appealing to them. Box turtles are long-lived and can even outlive humans, so it could even be the elusive Timmy, but I have to say the markings on the shells of the two turtles really don’t look much alike. Which is even better news – maybe we have TWO box turtles hanging out here!
Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!