Category Archives: Food Preserving

Autumn, the Hush before Winter

Orchard Valley Farms in the Fall

Orchard Valley Farms in the Fall

Autumn is the hush before winter” says an insightful French proverb. In Colorado, we can expect to experience warm, dry days keeping us outside enjoying the last days of summer.   However, oldtimers aren’t surprised by an unexpected early snowfall or freeze.  Breathe in all the delightful Fall weather whatever is dished up because winter is coming way too soon.

Meanwhile, here is a Fall check list for gardeners:

FROST IS COMING

The nights are cooling down. The question is to protect your plants or let them go.  Cold temperatures certainly will affect  plant health.

As a rule, light frosts happen with temperatures around 32 degrees, down to about 28 degrees. Hard frosts occur below 28 degrees.

Fall Garden Growing Guidelines:end_of_season_tomato_trellis_plants_620

• Warm-season crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, basil) need consistent 55-degree temperatures or higher to grow and ripen properly.  If a frost is expected it might be time to pull these plants and call it for the season until next year.

• Semi-hardy cool-season crops (beets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, cauliflower, potatoes, parsley) grow in minimum daytime temperatures of 40 degrees and higher. They cannot withstand hard frost without some kind of covering or protection.

• Hardy cool-season crops (cabbage, broccoli, onions, radishes, spinach, turnips, peas) grow in BasicColdFrame40-degree daytime temperatures and can handle some frosty nights without protection.

• To extend the season, both hardy and semi-hardy cool-season vegetables will need cold frames  to keep them growing through the fall.

Covering Crops

• Have some lightweight sheets or floating row covers on hand to cover when lower temperatures are predicted. Plastic transfers cold to the plant, so use only on top of sheets (for extra warmth or rain/snow protection). Covers must extend over the entire plant and be secured to the ground to keep heat trapped inside. Be sure to remove covers the next day when it warms up. More info about extending the season is found at the CSU extension site.  http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/722.html

Harvesting Guidelines

  • If you are not covering tomato plants, harvest the  tomatoes prior to frost — look for mature green tomatoes (dull, light green in color) or ones that are beginning to develop color. Wrap each in newspapers until ripe or place on a rack in a room with 65-70 degree temperatures. Light is not necessary for ripening, although some light will help with the color intensity. Keep them off a sunny window seal to ripen; they’ll get too hot and turn mushy.
  • Summer and winter squash are both warm-season crops and will not survive fall frosts. Summer squash includes zucchini, patty-pan or scallop, yellow straight or crookneck and taste best when harvested when they are immature with undeveloped seeds inside. They need to be harvested often and only last about a week in the refrigerator.

    Glorious and colorful assortment of winter squash

    Glorious and colorful assortment of winter squash

  • Winter squash includes butternut, buttercup, hubbard, acorn, and many pumpkin varieties. The opposite of summer squash, they are harvested when fully mature, and the fruit has developed a hard skin. This helps them store for many weeks in a cool, dry, dark place. A great indicator is to harvest winter squash and pumpkins when a fingernail cannot easily puncture the rind. Leave a two-inch piece of stem attached to the fruit.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Tattler

Tattler Lids are Reuseable

Tattler Lids are Reuseable

  • TATTLER canning lids provide a cost effective alternative to metal lids, as well as a safe, and environmentally friendly product for your home food preservation. TATTLER lids are BPA free!
  • Tattler Reusable Canning lids are which are made in America.
  • TATTLER lids are especially desirable for acid foods, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, etc, since they will not corrode.
  • Tattler lids are perfect for the home canner who wish to Reduce, Reuse, and Recyle and save time and money.

Key Benefits:

Canned Peaches with Tattler Lids

Canned Peaches with Tattler Lids

 

  • Dishwasher Safe!
  • Indefinitely reusable
  • Uses standard canning processes
  • No food spoilage due to acid corrosion
  • FDA approved materials
  • Use with Pressure or water bath canning methods.
  • Made of a food grade product known as (POM) or Acetal Copolymer

Tips For Best Results:

Tattler and Traditional Lids

Tattler and Traditional Lids

1. Inspect top of jar for cracks and nicks.
2. Wash, rinse and sterilize jars. Scald lids and rubber rings. Leave in water until ready to use.
3. Fill jars as indicated per canning instructions for that food type.
4. Wipe top of jar after filling. Place lid and rubber ring combination on jar.
5. Screw band on jar loosely. Center lid on jar and hold in place with finger while you finish tightening the metal band. THEN TURN BACK 1/4 INCH. Product must be allowed to vent during processing.
6. Process as per instructions for various foods.
7. TIGHTEN METAL BAND FIRMLY IMMEDIATELY UPON REMOVAL FROM CANNER.
8. When jars have cooled, remove metal band and determine by feel if lids are securely sealed. Sealed jars may be stored without metal bands if desired.
9. When removing lid gently insert table knife between rubber and jar to release seal – DO NOT USE SHARP KNIFE.
10. Wash plastic lids and rubber rings, rinse, dry and store for future use. Do not save any rubber ring which is cut or deformed.

Save money when canning with reuseable lids and rings

Save money when canning with reuseable lids and rings

TATTLER reuseable lids and rings are available at Paonia Farm and Home Supply along with all your other canning needs.

 

 

Linda’s Old Fashioned Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup garnished with basil

Tomato Soup garnished with basil

1. Linda’s Old Fashioned Tomato Soup

1/3 cup butter
2 garlic cloves
4 cups sliced celery
2 onions, sliced
1 peck very ripe tomatoes (1/4 bushel or about 8 cups,cut up)
1 quart water or stock, optional
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons salt  ( or to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup honey
Melt butter in large,heavy enamel or stainless steel pot.  Saute garlic, celery and onions lightly.  Add cut up tomatoes, water or stock (I don’t always add water if tomatoes are good and juicy) and parsley.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
Put the soup through a food mill or Victorio strainer to remove vegetables, tomato skins and seeds.  This process makes a smooth, beautiful tomato soup.   Return the soup into the pot and reheat. Add salt and pepper to taste.  At this point make a thin paste of 1- 2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water and slowly add into the simmering soup to thicken. ( Ed note: Linda, usually skips  that step but I prefer the soup to have a little more “body”). Add the honey.
The soup recipe can be frozen or pressure canned for 35 minutes for quarts,  20 minutes for pints to enjoy in the cold winter months ahead.
When ready to serve, you can add 1 pint milk or cream per pint of soup and 1 tsp butter and reheat but Linda’s family likes the fresh tomato taste so she eliminates  this step.  (Ed note:  My soup base was strong and flavorful that I LOVED it mixed with cream and reheated without the butter.)
Garnish the soup with fresh basil sprinkled on top with homemade croutons, if desired.  This soup is great on a cold day served with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Linda’s grand daughter is already asking for Grandma Linda’s tomato soup and she is only three.
jarred-tomato-sauce