Tom Throgmorton gives us a lesson in harvesting and saving our vegetables.
It takes a lot of work to prepare, to plant and to tend the veggie garden. The harvest is coming in fast and furious. Care for the harvest. It’s food for the winter.
Garlic and onions are easy to prep for keeping. When the leaves on garlic turn brown, then bulbs can be pulled. Onion tops fall over when they are ready to harvest. Knock off the biggest dirt clumps but leave the leaves on them. Put the bulbs in an airy spot out of direct sun until they dry. After a few days to a week, the rest of the dirt and loose outer skins can be peeled off. Cut off the tops. Store the bulbs in a cool place with good air circulation. Ours are in the garage for the time being.
Tomatoes are easy if you have freezer space. Wash the fruit. Put a group of tomatoes in a gallon freezer bag and into the freezer they go. Pull out a bag for winter soups or sauces. Drop the frozen tomatoes into hot water and the skin slips off.
The last couple of years we’ve gone back to the more labor intensive tomato storage method of canning. Marinara, salsa or just tomato sauce is easy to can. The decorative jars make great gifts. In January there is nothing tastier than a sauce made with a jar of garden tomatoes. We use the book Putting Food By for canning information. The CSU Extension fact sheets and books like How to Store Your Garden Produce are also excellent sources of food storage information.
Roast peppers over high heat on the grill to blacken their skin. Toss the roasted peppers in a brown paper bag to let them cool. When they are cool most of the blacken skin peels off. Bundle the peeled peppers into a freezer bag. Label the bag and freeze it for soups and salsa all winter.
Cook up some apple sauce. We try to use a couple different varieties of apples for flavor and color. The sauce cans up easily in a water bath. It is a great after school treat on a snowy day.
We leave our beets and carrots in the garden until the soil starts to freeze. They taste sweeter after a few frosty nights. Carrots also keep well in pots of sand or saw dust. Keep the pot in a dark, cool space.
A little more work at harvest time lets you enjoy the fruits and veggies of your labor all winter.
Tom can be reached at [email protected]