It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where gardeners from all over celebrate all things harvest related. It’s still tomato season here, and I’ve now harvested over 100 pounds of them so far this year. The eggplants are doing well also, which has us scrambling to look for new ways to use them as well as making old favorite dishes. The summer squashes are about done for, but we are still getting ones like tromboncino and the Korean avocado squash (Early Bulam).
Eggplant sandwiches are a favorite here, and always a treat when we have both eggplant and tomatoes fresh from the garden. One day last week we grilled mini naan bread until crisp then spread with some smashed avocado, and topped with roasted eggplant and tomato slices. A slice of cheddar cheese went on top of everything, and after a quick trip under the broiler it made for a quick and light lunch. We’ve also made it on a slice of bread, but the Stonefire Naans are the current favorite.
Another meal last week featured roasted eggplant along with spiralized squash topped with cheese and basil. The veggies went well with grilled chicken breast. We are looking forward to trying a cheesy eggplant and rice casserole soon, perhaps tonight. I find eggplant to be pretty versatile in the kitchen, especially when they are mild and tender and fresh from the garden.
Right on schedule, I got the first harvest of the climbing/pole beans last week. Robe Mountain is a dependable early performer for me and in my experience sets pods at about the same time as modern varieties like Fortex or Musica, which I am not growing this year. The bigger pods have strings that are easily removed, while the smaller and younger pods usually don’t. They have a great “beany” flavor and the pods stay tender even when big.
A large amount of paste type tomatoes went into a batch of sauce I cooked up on Saturday. I made it extra thick, so it can be used as a pizza sauce. I didn’t add any seasonings though, which I think makes it more flexible to use later. Earlier in the week I cooked up a batch of tomatoes for paste. 16 cups of blended tomatoes cooked down to about 5 cups of sauce, which I put on dehydrator sheets to finish the process and drive off more of the moisture.
After about three hours in the dehydrator, the paste was ready. I now had about two and a half cups of finished tomato paste, which was quite thick. I spooned it into ice cube trays to freeze. The cubes are great to add to sauces and other dishes that need a bit of extra tomato flavor. Canned tomato paste is not all that expensive to buy, so I certainly can’t justify making it myself as a money saver. But the flavor of the homemade paste is wonderful, and there is only one ingredient: organically grown and vine-ripened tomatoes.
I’m trying to showcase some of the tomatoes we are growing this year. I figure it can help other gardeners see what they look like without the hype generally present in seed catalog listings, plus it makes a good record for me in the future as I plan what I want to grow. I have been growing the University of Florida bred Garden Gem tomato for several years now. This year they offered an Improved Garden Gem variety in their Citizen Science Initiative, and I have one plant I set out. This is a tasty variety for both fresh eating and for turning into sauce, which is what I did with this batch. Each tomato averages a bit more than two ounces, and the determinate vines are loaded with fruit. I am impressed with the improved version, and I will likely set out more than one plant next year.
In other news, we have been growing the scarlet hibiscus here for many years, but this year my wife and I also planted some of the large flowered hardy hibiscus. They are just now beginning to bloom. The flowers only last for a day, but are usually followed by more blossoms from the same flower stalk. They are a favorite of hummingbirds, and occasionally I see butterflies on them.
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!