Harvest Monday September 16, 2019

It’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I can report I’m still getting plenty of harvests here to keep me busy. I was happy to get a few slicing tomatoes last week. Garden Treasure And Chef’s Choice Yellow gave us enough for a treat. They aren’t the prettiest specimens, but they were tasty.

Garden Treasure and Chef’s Choice Yellow tomatoes

Some of the tomatoes went on an open faced portobello mushroom sandwich. We spread avocado on naan bread (not homemade), added sliced tomato and a roasted mushroom topped with melted cheddar cheese.

Open-Faced Portobello Sandwoch

I got a few more peppers to dry for kimchi seasoning (gochugaru). These are the Hong Gochu Large variety (Adaptive seeds), and had a medium heat. These have fairly thin walls and dried quickly in the dehydrator.

Hong Gochu Large peppers

I also picked a few green jalapeno peppers to start a fermented hot sauce. I used Senorita and Emerald Fire for this batch. I got enough to fill a pint jar, and I plan to make a thin Tabasco style green hot sauce with them.

green jalapenos for hot sauce

Meanwhile, I took the first batch of fermented red ripe peppers and turned it into a batch of No Rooster Chili Garlic Sauce. I modified the recipe a bit for using fermented peppers. I cut back on the vinegar and omitted the salt and sugar. I also added more garlic than usual because I like my garlic! This stuff is so tasty I could just eat it with a spoon, and one of my favorite uses for it is to spoon it on a baked potato. The mild heat of the peppers I used let the flavor of the fermented peppers take center stage instead of a blistering heat. It also means I can use more of the sauce on a dish without jacking up the heat too much.

fermented chili garlic sauce

I got big haul of squashes last week. There were nine of the Thelma Sanders acorn squash, and one big tromboncino. Thelma Sanders is a sweet tasting squash with a tan colored skin and creamy orange flesh. It is a good keeper, and one of my favorites of the acorn squashes I grow. These weighed 11 pounds total, so they averaged a little over a pound each.

Thelma Sanders acorn squashes with Tromba d’Albenga

It was my wife’s turn to cook and she spiralized the tromboncino to make what we call ‘toodles’ (trombo noodles). They made a tasty base for a marinara sauce we enjoyed for dinner one night.

spiralizing tromboncino

The pole beans are still keeping my busy. Robe Mountain and Non Tough Half Runner are two of my favorites and producing well.

Robe Mountain and Non Tough Half Runner beans

I saved my favorite harvest for last. We planted our first two pawpaw trees in 2011. A couple of years later, an errant tree service employee trashed one of them. We replanted with several more trees until we had six in all. Last year two of them fruited, but critters got every one of them. This year only one tree had fruit, and I protected it with netting. Rascally raccoons still made off with three of them, but I managed to pick the rest of them.

Shenandoah pawpaw

The flesh inside is soft with a custard or pudding consistency. The taste is hard to describe, sort of like bananas with mango or pineapple overtones. We scooped the flesh out of the skin with a spoon to eat it. This one is the Shenandoah variety, and it has a mild taste that is a favorite of many who grow it for sale. I’ve not seen them for sale around us, so we’ll have to keep growing them if we want more in the future. These trees are native to the eastern U.S., and are rarely bothered by pests. They are also host plants for zebra swallowtails. They have several large black seeds inside about the size of a lima bean. All in all it’s an interesting fruit, and I am tickled to be finally eating some of ours!

inside of Shenandoah pawpaw

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Harvest Monday September 9, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. And I’ll get straight to the harvests. Peppers are continuing to ripen here, especially the hot ones. I got enough of them to start another batch of fermented hot sauce last week. This batch included three AAS Winners in the below photo, Emerald Fire, Chili Pie and Aji Rico.

Emerald Fire, Chili Pie and Aji Rico peppers

I also found a few Czech Black, Honeypeno and Senorita jalapenos plus a couple of the Sugar Rush peach and a lone Aji Angelo. All of these went into the hot sauce as well.

assortment of hot peppers

One hot pepper I didn’t ferment is the little Catarina. I got the seed for this one as a bonus from a Farmacie Isolde order. I dried these, and ground up into flakes for seasoning. It has a good flavor with medium heat, and the plant is big and loaded with green fruits. Most small peppers like this are super hot, but I would call Catarina mild. I have seen it listed as having around 500 Scoville Heat Units, milder than a hot banana pepper. I am going to try pickling a few of them too. For those more patient than I, the seeds could be scooped out and then stuffed with cheese to make mini poppers. I hope to experiment more as they ripen.

Catarina peppers

I made another cutting of collard greens, this time from the hybrid Tiger. We’ve been enjoying these sturdy greens, and since the plants are getting big I look forward to them keeping us supplied for several months.

Tiger collard greens

The pole beans are still keeping us supplied too. Turkey Craw makes big fat pods with a great tasting bean inside. I got enough of these to freeze as well as enjoy fresh.

Turkey Craw beans

And I continue to bring in more of the winter squashes and tromboncinos. It’s going to be a good year for squash overall, and I’ve brought in over 150 pounds of them total so far.

assortment of squashes

Inspired by a loaf I saw in one of the online baking groups I frequent, I baked a loaf of No-Knead Spelt Rye Sourdough bread last week. It had 20% spelt flour, 11% rye flour along with the unbleached bread flour and made for a very tasty, crusty bread. I used my usual Breadtopia recipe and subbed the spelt and rye flour for the whole wheat flour I usually use.

No Knead Spelt Rye Sourdough Bread

crumb shot

I had a companion in the garden one morning recently. I spotted this Five-lined skink (aka blue-tailed skink) while on my hands and knees picking pole beans. I softly asked it to please stay put while I went back to the house and got the camera. It obliged, and then scampered off  over a squash vine after I got the pic. We do have a lot of these here, and I believe a family of them hatched in the compost pile earlier this year. I still see a blue tail (or two) scamper away once in a while when I dump something in the bin.

Blue Tailed Skink

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Harvest Monday September 2, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The beans continue to roll in here, keeping me busy harvesting and processing them. There’s about 2.5 pounds of them in the below photo,  a mix of several varieties. I planted the purple podded Blauhilde last year and even though it wasn’t on the grow list for this year, some volunteered and are doing quite well. I got over six pounds of beans total this week, and the freezer is starting to fill up nicely.

one day harvest

volunteer Blauhilde

more beans

I got a few more eggplants last week though the plants are not producing well right now. I see Dancer, Farmer’s Long, Bride and Shoya Long in the below photo,

assortment of eggplant

Chef’s Choice Orange is one of my favorite slicing tomatoes. It’s been a terrible year for the big slicing types with many of them rotting as they ripen, but we’ve gotten a nice supply of this one.

Chef’s Choice Orange tomatoes

The tomatoes and eggplant got together one day for one of my favorite summer treats: eggplant sandwich. With toasted homemade Emmer and Whole Wheat bread spread with a bit of smashed avocado on it and layers of grilled eggplant, sliced tomatoes and lettuce, it made for a tasty lunch.

eggplant sandwich

We got our first harvest of collard greens last week. This was the hybrid Flash, one I’ve grown in the past. The big leaves cooked up tender and flavorful, and I’m looking forward to eating many more of these greens in the weeks to come. They should keep on going until a hard freeze takes them out.

Flash Collard greens

The Jester squash vines didn’t make a lot of fruits but I was happy to get these three after a couple of them had insect damage and rotted. We have lots of squash to eat right now but I do want to give these a taste as soon as we can. And there are more winter squash still coming on in the garden, which hopefully will ripen before cold weather gets here.

Jester squash

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Greasy Beans, Half-Runners and Other Bean Talk

The last few years I’ve become fascinated with growing various types of heirloom pole beans. Many have interesting descriptive names like “greasy beans”, “cornfield beans” and “half-runners”. It was confusing to me at first, but I managed to learn the lingo, thanks in part to the folks at Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center who have a page that describes Bean Terminology. Most of these have been super productive in my garden, and all have been tasty in the kitchen.

Non Tough Half Runner beans

Non Tough Half Runner beans

Greasy beans are so named because the pods have a slick feel to them, and not the slightly “fuzzy” feel that most bean pods have. If you have the two beans together it is easy to feel the difference, and usually I can even see it just by looking at the pods. The Bertie Best Greasy Beans in the below photo are a good example of how they look. They are a bit shiny, and though it may be hard to tell in the photo it is easier when you see one in person.

Bertie Best Greasy Beans

Bertie Best Greasy Beans

Bertie Best Greasy Bean has been growing in its present form for over 100 years according to legendary bean grower Bill Best, founder of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center which specializes in heirloom varieties of beans. The bean is named after his aunt Bertie Best, and the seeds are mostly white but with a small percentage of black and brown seeds. The beans start to swell up fairly quickly, and make for a very flavorful side dish.

Bertie Best Greasy Bean seeds

Bertie Best Greasy Bean seeds

Half-runner beans are ones which have vines that range anythere from a few feet long to over ten feet. I’ve been growing one called Non Tough Half Runner for several years now, and despite the name they seem to vine about as much as all the other pole beans I grow. The big difference is that the pods stay tender even when the beans inside get quite big. For that matter, the pods are still tender even when they begin to dry. They do have strings though, but I’ve found it is no trouble to string them before cooking or freezing.

Non-Tough Half Runner beans

Non-Tough Half Runner beans

Cornfield bean is the name for any any climbing bean, but also ones that are traditionally trained up the corn stalks in a field of corn. Robe Mountain is one of my favorite cornfield beans, with tender pods that can get over nine inches long. The pods have strings, but it strings easily and it is the earliest of the Appalachian beans I grow, setting pods at about the same time as modern varieties like Musica and Fortex.

Robe Mountain beans

Robe Mountain beans

And speaking of strings, for me and I suspect most gardeners having strings in beans was a no-no for many years. Indeed stringless beans are still the norm, and most modern beans are stringless. However, when the original stringless trait in beans was discovered and bred into snap beans, flavor was not a big consideration and also got bred out of many of them. As for toughness, that was also bred into most modern beans to make them suitable for machine harvesting. What that means is that the beans have to be picked early, before the beans start to swell, or else the pods get too tough to eat. There are several different beans with the name Turkey Craw, but the one I am growing from Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center has especially tasty beans and pods that are tender at all stages. They are also easy to string.

Turkey Craw and Doyce Chambers Greasy Cut-Short beans

Turkey Craw and Doyce Chambers Greasy Cut-Short beans

In summary, the last few years I have made an attempt to grow heirloom beans that have not had the stringless or the tough genes bred into them. Many of these beans have been traded between neighbors and handed down as family heirloom varieties for many generations. They more closely resemble the beans that were likely grown by Native Americans as part of their Three Sisters triumvirate of beans, squash and corn. None of them has traded flavor or productivity for anything or anyone. For gardeners with the room to grow running beans, they can make an interesting and tasty addition to the lineup.

greasy beans

All of the beans mentioned here are available from the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center.


Posted in Food, Gardening | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Harvest Monday August 26, 2019

Once again it’s time for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Where has August gone? It’s hard to believe, but a change in the weather last week made things positively autumnal. The harvests are still summer like though, and I got enough ripe hot peppers last week to start a batch fermenting for hot sauce. I made this first batch with red-ripe Czech Black, Honeypeno and Red Ember peppers. All have a mild to medium heat level and a lovely flavor, and should make an interesting hot sauce. I’ll ferment them for about two weeks before turning into hot sauce. I might make a chunky chili garlic sauce with some of them after fermenting. If you’re interested, here’s the basic process I use to ferment the peppers: Fermented Pepper Mash, which also includes a few of the recipes to turn them into hot sauce.

Honeypeno and Czech Black peppers

Red Ember peppers

mixing peppers with 5% salt to make fermented peppers mash

fermenting peppers

In other harvest news, the squashes continue to roll in. I’m cutting quite a few of the winter types now, as well the the tromboncinos. In the below photo it’s Tromba d’Albenga, Centercut, Festival, Gill’s Golden Pippin and Baked Potatoes. We’ve started eating the acorn and sweet dumpling types, and both Celebration and Baked Potatoes are quite tasty. Celebration looks a lot like Festival though I only got two fruits from it. The Festival Acorn squash has been super productive, and I look forward to getting a taste of it soon.

tromboncino, Festival, Centercut, Gill's Golden Pippin and Baked Potatoes squashes

tromboncino, Festival, Centercut, Gill’s Golden Pippin and Baked Potatoes squashes

Festival Acorn squash

Celebration squash

Another sweet dumpling/acorn type we’ve enjoyed eating is called Scarchuk’s Supreme. I got the seeds for it from the Sand Hill Preservation Center, and it’s a keeper for sure. I sliced it and roasted it in the oven and it had a rich, sweet flavor.

Scarchuk’s Supreme squash

And in the smallest squash department, I got the first of the experimental 898 butternut squash from Row 7 Seed Company. The listing says they fit in palm of your hand, and they weren’t kidding! This squash was bred to taste good as well as to be small, and I can’t wait to taste it after it cures for a while. Neither my wife nor I are real big fans of butternuts, and I am hoping this will be the one that changes my mind about them!

898 squashes

898 squash

The pole beans are keeping me busy harvesting and freezing for later use. We’re eating them as often as we want, and it’s truly looks like it will be a bumper year for them. The ample rainfall is no doubt helping them, along with relatively moderate weather. We’ve yet to have an extended heat wave, though we’ve had our normal hot and humid weather. I didn’t get pics of all the beans I harvested, but one noteworthy one is called Buenos Aires Roja. These make giant, stringless pods with a great flavor, and can also be grown for shell or dry beans. I got the seeds for this one from Secret Seed Cartel.

Buenos Aires Roja beans

In the future harvests department, we’ve planted several pawpaw trees here in the last few years but have yet to get our first taste of them. Last year some critter made off with ours just as they ripened. This native tree has fruit with a tropical taste reminiscent of bananas and with a custard like texture. A friend shared a couple of her fruits a few years back, and they had a wonderful flavor. There are about 7 fruits on this one small tree this year, so I put bird netting around the tree and constructed Fort Pawpaw. I’ve also sprinkled hot cayenne pepper powder around the base of the tree, and I will set a few snap traps for good measure. I would like to get a taste of these fruits before I am too old to enjoy them!

Fort Pawpaw

Shenendoah pawpaw fruit

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments