HARVEST MANAGEMENT PART II
The season is starting to wrap up with cooler temperatures and shorter days. No sign of frost yet this early October; so things are still growing but at a slower pace.
I have harvested an incredible amount of tomatoes this year – around 100 pounds, the most since I started this garden 10 years ago. I attribute it to the ‘shit ton’ of steer manure, nitrogen and potassium we amended with over the last 2 years. Watering the correct amount and consistent timing is imperative. A few years ago I had used watering buttons instead of the soaker hoses which made the fruit develop black spots on the bottom called ‘blossom end rot’.
August started with 2 different recipes of salsa from whatever tomatoes were ripe at the time. Salsa entails a LOT of chopping of tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, cucumber, cilantro, roasted peppers. To start, the tomatoes go into a boiling water bath for about 2 minutes then are plunged into ice cold water – this enables the skins to peel off easily. The tomatoes produce a ton of water so I drain them after they are chopped (15 cups of chopped per recipe). Once everything is chopped it goes into a stock pot and is boiled for 15-20 minutes until thickened and then ladled into jars and canned in the water bath (as described in last blog). This makes plenty of jars to last a long time.
And they keep coming in…. the cherry tomatoes I cut in half and either roast in oven at 225 degrees (doused in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt) for 2 hours or layer in a dehydrator until they are almost dry then put them in jars and fill with olive oil. Both of these items will go in freezer for storage, great in pasta, chili.
Still coming in… next is the start of making sauce, paste for a variety of uses. Sauce is a lot less work. It entails putting the raw quartered tomatoes in the ‘tomato press’ that separates the seeds and skin from the pulp. A great invention!
This pulp (48 cups to make jars below) is put in a stock pot and simmered until it’s reduced by half for sauce and ¾ for paste. I have both frozen and canned the sauce and have made ‘paste pucks’ for the freezer by freezing the paste in muffin pan and when frozen, pop them out to put in a zip lock.
Geez, still coming! Slowing now but I will soon pull all the tomatoes off the plants and throw the plants in the garbage. They do not compost well since they end up with bugs and disease at the end of the season. The green tomatoes can be put in the window sill to ripen or wrapped in newspaper to ripen in the dark. I will likely make another batch of paste or roast the remaining ripe ones.
What about all those peppers? Well, I have a few things I do with them including roasting the chilis which involves putting the fresh peppers on parchment paper lining on cookie sheet and roasting about 8 minutes on each side under the broiler in oven.
They come out blistered and blackened and are put immediately into a ziplock bag to ‘sweat’, which enables the skins to peel off easily; but removing the seeds is a more tedious endeavor since they stick to your fingers. I will vacuum seal/freeze them to make green chili.
This year I made 2 different types of hot sauce. The green sauce is made from green serano peppers (picked before they turn red) mixed with lime juice, white wine vinegar and other spices which made for a spicy hot sauce!
The red sauce was made with ripened red seranos along with some orange habanero (super hot peppers) peppers to make a tasty, not as hot as green, sauce. Our hot pepper sauce enthusiast friends give them both “thumbs up”! More peppers next year for hot sauce!!
There is still a ton of work that needs to be done for the season is completely over, stay tuned