Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Big Harvests

There is so much to pick and preserve this time of year, I should try to do a little bit every day!

The recent rain and wind was quite rough on the garden. It is hard to get storms at harvest time when ripe fruits are only just holding onto the plants and can be easily knocked off. Also, plants like the tomatoes are dying back and all that withered material drapes across the wet fruits and then dries on after the sun comes out, making it take longer to wash unless you get to it before it's baked on.

The peppers had the hardest time. I was sad to see so many plants toppled and had to quickly work to drive in more stakes and tie them all back up again before the blazing sun scalded the exposed peppers. Even the ones that were already staked, suffered some too. A number of branches, heavily laden with peppers, broke right off, but we will still have plenty.

I did have to pick a bunch of green bells to save them, but luckily they are ripe enough although they might have changed color if allowed to hang on the plants longer.

Fortunately, considering our hot and humid weather, peppers do not need blanching or any heating to prepare for the freezer. I washed a bunch of the bells and a variety of hots. Then, I removed the stems and seeds, halved or quartered them, froze them separately on cookie sheets and later put them in gallon freezer bags. When I am ready, I can take out what I want for a specific recipe. Frozen peppers won't be as crisp as fresh, but that is just fine for cooking into a curry, pasta or pizza sauce or chopping into enchilada or burrito fillings.

Some of the Big Bertha sweet bells.

A selection of hots, in a double layer separated by paper and ready to freeze.

For dinner, I sauteed some green and yellow bells with onion and chicken. At the end, I added in the pineapple chunks and some spoonfuls of cranberry pepper jelly (we have a little left from last year's preserving) and then served it on some Kasmati rice.

The tomato plants look quite pounded, but the fruits hung on pretty well and I picked them today and even got the washing done. I filled two of my melamine wash trays and most of a bowl!

I don't believe I've photographed the Italian Ice tomatoes yet. They are so called 'white' tomatoes, but they are really a very pale yellow. This is the first year I've grown them and I am impressed by their wonderful flavor! They do seem to take longer than other cherries to ripen though. There are 3 shown in the foreground of this picture. They are a little more pale in real life.

And, more cherries and pears. Sometimes I think of the pears as 'light bulbs'! They are certainly cute little tomatoes.

While I've been picking peppers and tomatoes, some of the eggplants have been getting too big. I'll have to throw a few in the compost and then catch up on picking the rest tomorrow while I have the tomatoes simmering on the stove!

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