Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dealing with the Garden's Bounty

Every Fall I fall back into my Sunday morning routine. After assessing the week's harvest I get to work. I heat the oven to 250 degrees, pour a cup of coffee, turn on NPR and start slicing. With my pug at my feet, I prepare as many trays as I can of sliced roma tomatoes for roasting. Once those have started I move onto preparing peppers for broiling, tomatillos for saucing, and zucchini for whatever I can come up with.

Roasting takes a while, so while I wait the few hours for a set to finish I can snuggle up to read the paper, clean up the house, get yogurts ready for the week, bake or just relax.

Once the tomatoes are dried and sweet, I fill 2-cup freezer bags with them. Label and lay flat in the freezer. These are my gold mines all winter. Once defrosted they are equally delicious tossed with olive oil and salt for a cheese plate as in any soup. Roasted Tomato Jam is also wonderful!

Any additional tomatoes get roughly chopped, thrown into a sauce pan. Cook until bubbling and soft, about 20 minutes. I run these through my food mill, which removes the skin and seeds. Pour this into freezer bags, and mark. These is a base for pasta sauces, braises, or soups.

This year I am hording my Russian Black tomatoes for salad and eating. They are so delicious.

I have tomatillos coming out of my ears! Last year I made the mistake of only planting one bush. At the end of the summer I had a lovely, huge flowered covered bush, but no tomatillos. This year, I planted two. They are going gang busters. After canning some enchilanda sauce and eating a ton of green salsa, I have started roasting the rest.
To roast, remove papery hull and wash sticky residue. Slice in half and lay cut side up on a roasting pan. Roast at 250 until a little brown on the edges and juicy in the middle. I have frozen these just like this, or food milled them into a sauce. Now I have enchilanda sauce base ready to go. Or a tortilla soup base. Or a cooked salsa recipe base. MMMMM.

I have roasting my spicy (ish) peppers and freezing whole. I already threw a few of those into corn chowder with great results.
The sweeter peppers are blackened under the broiler. Cooled, peeled and sliced. In a tupperware I add salt, rice vinegar and a touch of olive oil. Marinate the peppers in that for a day or so. These are delicious on pretty much everything!

These are a few of my idea for making sure the bounty from the garden sticks around all winter. I would love to hear some other ideas.

PS. Here is a pickle recipe from last summer.


  1. I just made this relish with some zucchinis that were hanging around my kitchen--it is really really good. I gave pickles a go for the first time this weekend too (cucumber and carrot). I am stretching my canning wings with my weekly CSA basket.
    I think I need to make some of your oven dried tomatoes!

  2. Oh Wow, all those things from your garden?
    When my husband and I settle in Charlottesville VA next year, he wants to start a vegetable garden. I hope one day we can get as many goodies as you do.

  3. Not Jenny - that relish looks wonderful. I am going to try it out!
    Rosa - having a veggie garden is really fun and rewarding. And I swear I have saved over $100 in groceries in the last few weeks by not buying veggies!