This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Preserving the Harvest, Part 1

Well, it's late July.  Kids in Arizona are returning to school already.  Lucky for us, school doesn't start until mid-Sept!  But in any case, the longest days of the year are past and Summer is almost over -- NO, it's not -- it's only 1/3 over!  But, really, in any case, the time is upon us, or upon me, to start taking steps to save some of the Summer goodness of the gardens for the Winter months.  This week I have picked more tomatoes than we can eat (and we've really been trying!).  So this morning I decided I needed to preserve some.  I usually puree and can (aka, put in glass jars) my tomato excess.  But, what I had this morning was not enough for that "trouble".  I thought of doing a couple jars of chutney or salsa but I didn't have the other ingredients.  Then it struck me: dry them!
Here are the six specimens chosen for this experiment (I have never dried tomatoes before!).
I sliced them (I didn't remove seeds because seeds don't bother me but if they do you, go ahead and remove them) and placed them on the racks that came with my convection oven/toaster/dehydrator.  I sprinkled them with some sea salt.
And started them drying.
Ten hours later, they still look like regular tomatoes. Hmmm...
Another edible I've been meaning to make use of comes from my "vineyard" -- the grape leaves.  I decided it was time to get some of those leaves prepared for dolmas!  I picked a couple dozen leaves.
Then I washed them and let them soak in salt, water, and whey for a while.  I rolled the leaves into a stack and put them in a sterile quart jar and covered them with the soaking liquid.  We'll have pickled leaves in a few days.
All of today's harvests did not get preserved.  Gregg dug the potato box, which was NOT planted this year -- we must have not harvested everything last year!  Here was our yield (after one smaller harvest earlier):
All cleaned up:

For dinner tonight we had a "stew" of veggies -- mostly zucchini and yellow crooknecks, with which we are somewhat overrun!
Onions, green bell pepper, garlic, and a couple quarts of last year's harvest rounded it all out.
Wow, I never took a picture of the stew after the tomatoes went in.   And now it's all gone.  Went down with some buttermilk biscuits, fresh grated parmesan, and to keep random, fresh ears of corn.

ETA:  Here are the tomatoes after about 24 hours:
Still a ways to go, I think.


Kinda Like a Chef said...

Awesome! Can't wait to see how the tomatoes come out! Gosh, just looking at your blog makes me so hungry, and I want a giant garden!

Ceitllyn said...

Where do you get your grape leaves? I have a pickle recipe that uses them. Thanks. Nice to have found your site.

Marlyn said...

Ceitllyn, I pick our grape leaves from our vines. If your pickle recipe calls for them to help maintain crispness I have heard that oak leaves also work. I have no personal experience with that but am sure I read it -- I would google around some before doing it though to be super sure!

Please check out the site often -- it's a lot of family stuff but also gardening and food -- multi-purpose, like my life!