Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests here are in a typical mid-to-late summer pattern. The warm season veggies rule, with eggplant coming on strong and zucchini plants slowing down but holding on. In the below photo it’s the Italian eggplants Galine and Nadia along with a small Fairy Tale eggplant and a Striata d’Italia zucchini. We’ve been enjoying the eggplants grilled, but I do see some Baba Ghanoush in my near future. I usually grill the eggplants whole for that dish instead of heating up the oven to roast them.
In other harvest news, the first ripe Escamillo pepper was ready last week. Escamillo is a 2016 AAS winner, and a large yellow corno di toro type. It makes a great partner to the red Carmen pepper, itself a 2004 AAS winner and long one of my favorites. The Escamillo was tasty when grilled, and I look forward to enjoying more of them and Carmen as they ripen.
I also got the first ripe peppers from a plant that is supposed to be a mild Italian frying pepper called Friggitello. I’m not at all sure that’s what this one really is though. I lightly sauteed it and a Jimmy Nardello one day for lunch. My first taste of it was quite a shock, as it was not exactly what I would call mild. My mouth was burning, and so was my thumb where I cleaned out the seeds. I’ll taste the second one when I am brave enough, and when my taste buds recover! The plant is loaded with peppers, so I need to try and figure out something to do with them. They don’t exactly match the usual description for Friggitello, so who knows what they really are.
Speaking of being loaded with peppers, that certainly describes my Pepperoncino plant. I got enough of them last week to make a jar of pickled peppers. I already have a jar of ‘quick pickles’ I made with some of them earlier, but for this batch I used a recipe from my Ball Blue Book that called for an overnight soak in a brine solution before pickling. I had enough to fill a quart jar, and I will let these sit for a few weeks before eating them.
Another AAS winner that’s been doing well here is Bossa Nova, a 2015 winner. It’s a Caserta type squash, popular in Brazil, though it looks and tastes much like one of the many Cocozelle types from Italy. Bossa Nova has been quite prolific for me here, and I will be growing it again for sure. I’ve actually got a new plant of it going in a Smart Pot, and we will see if it can give us a few squash later in the season when most of the others (if not all) will be done for in the main garden.
More winter squash were ready to harvest last week. That’s Gold Nugget squashes circled around a Butterscotch butternut in the below photo. Gold Nugget is a dependable performer for me, and early to mature. It was bred as a sweet potato substitute for gardeners with short-seasons, but it does quite well for me here in our hot summer weather. These averaged just over a pound each, though some were bigger and some were smaller for sure. They are a nice size for individual servings, and my wife and I usually share one as a side dish.
Another squash that’s a dependable performer for me here is the yellow squash Enterprise. It was the only yellow straight-neck squash I planted this year, and it didn’t let me down. The heirloom White Scallop squash hasn’t let me down either. The squash are hanging out with a couple of Millionaire eggplant in the below photo.
It’s tomato season here for sure. I’ve been harvesting all sorts of them, from paste tomatoes like Viva Italia and Health Kick to smaller cherry types and my old favorite Juliet. I’ve also been getting lots of nice slicing tomatoes from the hybrids Celebrity, Better Boy, Jetsetter and Garden Treasure. Any and all of these are fair game for processing, and I made a batch of Freezer Tomato Sauce earlier in the week and a batch of Homemade Tomato Ketchup on Saturday.
Making the ketchup is always a marathon event, and in this case took over five hours from start to finish. Instead of getting a finishers medal though like you get after the 26.2 mile event, in this case the payoff was all the jars of homemade ketchup lined up and ready for the pantry.
The Red Noodle long beans have been coming in steadily now for a week or so. They are back in the garden after an absence of a couple of years. They are prolific bearers in my garden, loving the heat and mostly not bothered by insects or other problems. The red color makes it easy to find them in the bean foliage, though they are so big it would be hard to miss them!
I used both the Red Noodle beans and the Fairy Tale eggplant in a dish I made last night, Pan Fried Sesame Tofu. This is a dish Phuong (Kentucky Fried Garden) shared a while back, made with broccoli and garlic scapes. Our broccoli is long gone, but I used the beans and eggplant plus a mix of button and shiitake mushrooms and it made a very tasty stir fry indeed. The tofu is pressed first to get out some of the moisture, then tossed with cornstarch before cooking in oil until crispy. I cooked the veggies one at a time, then tossed everything back in the pan before adding the sauce at the last minute. I will be making this one again for sure, and I can see it working for a variety of vegetables. I used a mix of black and white sesame seeds, and that’s a homegrown Flagpole scallion added to the finished dish.
I’ll close with an update on our bluebird babies. I’ve been sharing pix on my FB page, and here’s one I took yesterday of them at 9 days old. They are growing up fast, and that’s the last time I will look in the nest box until they fledge, which will likely be in another week to 10 days.
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!