Winter is Coming

I might be one of the very last people to watch Game of Thrones. The idea that Winter is Coming is throughout the first season and a few of the characters are paying attention but most are not. Of course that has nothing to do with the garden but seems more interesting than the old ant and grasshopper story.

In the garden we are aware that winter is coming so today was all about harvesting and “putting up” for winter. There is nothing that I like better than to be able to make chili, soup or spaghetti sauce on a cold winter day with tomatoes I’ve saved from the garden. We are so used to having plenty of tomatoes all winter that we forget how yummy they are until someone is here for a meal and reminds us that those tomatoes we saved from the garden make an ordinary meal something special.

I just wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. I cook them on low heat until they start releasing juice and I turn them up to medium-low. I mash them every ten minutes or so and cook until everything is soft. I put the cooked tomatoes and juice through a food mill to got rid of most of the skins. I put about 3 cups of cooked tomatoes into a plastic container and freeze. A day or so later I remove them from the containers and put them I a bag that can be vacuum sealed. This saves that fresh garden flavor.
We also harvested Anasazi beans. They are yummy and we like them better than pinto beans. After they are shelled we spread them out on a cookie sheet to dry. It only takes a few days and then they go into a jar in the pantry.

Squash and okra went into the freezer today too. We are happier with the texture of these two vegetables if we don’t blanch them first. The general rule of thumb is to use them within 6 months. We use a vacuum sealer so we don’t have any problems. I cut the okra first since this is how I will be using it. I put it on a parchment lined pan in the freezer for about an hour and a half. This helps it not get crushed in the vacuum sealer. The squash just goes in the bag freshly cut and then vacuum sealed.

Paul even made pickled peppers. He says they are very tasty but hot. I don’t do hot so I’ll let him enjoy those.

Paul’s Pickled Peppers
Makes 2 pint jars.

1 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
3/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, sliced vertically In half
1 T sugar
1 tsp sea salt

Heat ingredients until sugar and salt dissolve. Liquid should be very hot but doesn’t need to boil.

While this heats, put 5-6 jalapeños in each clean pint jar. They should fit as tightly as possible. Pour hot liquid and garlic into jars. Each jar gets one of the cut pepper pieces. Don’t be surprised if the peppers start to float. Put on the lids. Let the jars cool a bit and store in the refrigerator. These are not processed in a water bath so be sure to keep them in the fridge.
Loving my garden,

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