Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related, and happy Labor Day to those celebrating in the U.S. (and Happy Labour Day to those in Canada). We’re also celebrating pepper season here, and I accumulated enough last week to smoke a batch in my charcoal grill. In the below photo, it’s the mildly hot mini belle Not Celia Dulce in the top row. In the bottom row, left to right, we have Senorita Jalapeno, Aji Angelo, a green Minero that accidentally fell off the plant, three Dulce Rojo, a Friggitello, and two of the Leutschauer Paprika peppers. Other than Dulce Rojo and Aji Angelo, these are peppers I’ve never grown before or smoked, and this is a test run to see how they do.
After smoking, it was off to the dehydrator to dry them to the leathery stage. I move the dehydrator out to the front porch whenever I dry the smoked peppers, to keep them from making the whole house smell smoky. Once smoked, they look a bit different than they do fresh, and when I have a mixed batch of them it’s nice to have a photo of them ‘before’ so I can tell what’s what. They need to be crisp dry before you grind them into powder, but I do that last step in the oven, set on the lowest heat setting. I will try and do that one day this week since I am anxious to get a taste of some of these peppers.
Other than the ones I smoked, we also used some of our sweet peppers in a Vegetable Pepper Quiche my wife cooked up last week. I see Big Bertha and Jimmy Nardello peppers in there, along with some of our onions. I love this pie and it was a treat to eat.
I also got a nice haul of Baby Aji Amaraillo peppers from my container grown plant. I put a pair of scissors in there for scale, since the peppers are smaller than the usual Aji Amarillo peppers.
I seeded and processed all these peppers into some Aji Amarillo Paste. The peppers are boiled in water to soften them and get some of the heat out before they are blended up into a paste. I froze the paste in an ice cube tray, then packaged the cubes for later use. I plan on drying some of these peppers later on, and perhaps making an Aji Amarillo hot sauce as well. I have two plants, one in a container and one in the ground, and they are loaded with peppers.
We’re also celebrating a good year for eggplants here. That’s Nadia in the below photo, which has been a steady producer this year along with another one called Galine.
Many of the eggplants wind up grilled. My wife and I both enjoy eating them that way as a side dish, though the ones in the below photo were headed for an eggplant sandwich. Before grilling we brush them with a little olive oil and give them a sprinkle of salt.
The slicing tomatoes are coming to an end, at least for now. That’s Chef’s Choice Orange and Better Boy in the below photo, two hybrids that have kept us supplied with many tomatoes this year. It’s just been an average year for tomatoes here, but I plant enough for us to have plenty even in a bad year like 2015.
According to my records I’ve hauled in just over 130 pounds of tomatoes so far, which is more than last year’s 97 pounds but nowhere near the 2012 bumper crop of 217 pounds. And all of those totals are with the same number of plants, give or take a few. I got a nice harvest of the small fruited types yesterday, mostly Sunrise Bumblebee and Purple Bumblebee along with some of the always prolific Juliet. It was just enough tomatoes to fill a half-sheet baking pan, and I slow roasted them for about three hours. I used the roasted tomatoes to make a batch of Quinoa Tomato Salad.
The salad also featured a couple of our Flagpole scallions, and some Pepitas seeds I dry toasted in a skillet. I’ve toasted many pumpkin seeds before, and they always pop and crack in the skillet. But these were popping like popcorn, and I had to quickly find a cover to keep them all from flying out on the kitchen floor. I usually mix the toasted pepitas in with the quinoa salad, but this time we used them on top after we plated the salad, so they would stay crisp. I was already loving these pumpkin seeds, but toasting them really sent them over the top!
The biggest harvest of the week came from the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash, aka neck pumpkins. I’ve been growing these moschata squash for several years now, and I think this will be one of my best years ever. The ones in the below photo weigh almost 19 pounds, with the curved one being the largest at 7.5 pounds. The long neck is all flesh, so there’s a lot to eat on these winter squash, which are an ancestor of the modern butternuts. There’s two more on the vine, and it looks like they will keep us supplied with plenty of puree in the months to come. Like other moschata types, they keep well well in storage and need to be cured for a month or so to develop their best flavor.
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!