In a hot kitchen at the height of harvest I simply cannot make proper sauces and preserves. The counters are overflowing with vegetables that need to be washed, peeled, cut and cooked in large pots steaming on the stove for an eternity. The kitchen gets hotter and hotter and by the end of the day the heat has spread to every room in the house. Nope, that’s not my plan, thank you very much.
When it is hot and I have baskets of veggies all over the kitchen it’s not time for jam, not time for sauces, stews or ratatouille. I wash the vegetables, I do not peel, or chop them, and I cook them minimally, if at all possible outside. And I do not can, never on a hot day, I pray that my freezer is large enough.
Right now I have an overflow of purple tomatillos. They get husked and quickly blanched for one minute. Once cool they can go straight in the freezer. I used to roast them but no more, blanched tomatillos end up being more useful for our cooking style.
I’ve also got baskets of eggplants and peppers. Those get grilled. I grill the peppers and long eggplants whole, just coated with olive oil. I do prick a few little holes in the eggplants for steam to come out. The fat Italian eggplants and zucchinis get cut into thick slices, coated in oil and onto the grill they go. Again, once cool straight into the freezer, peel, seeds and all. Actually, I do pull the stems out, it slows me down but it saves freezer space.
The one step where I need to slow down, is peeling the spines off nopales, on the grill behind the peppers. There is no way around this one. I take a deep breath and set out to slowly and carefully take every spine off. Then they join the peppers and eggplants on the grill and in the freezer, either whole or cut in stripes.
Grilled tomato halves can also be packed and frozen as they are. I like to process some of them a bit more, just a bit more. I will run them through a couple pulses in the food processor and pack and freeze the resulting puree. If the peel is loose I will take it away before pureeing. I don’t bother seeding the tomatoes, I don’t mind the seeds at all. Pureeing the tomatoes does not involve heating so if at that point I still have energy left I’m glad to do it.
This has been the bulk of my preserving this year. I didn’t get any cucumbers. The cool temperatures and the nematodes did them in, so one less thing to do. Unfortunately it’s also one less thing to eat. Oh well… Since I don’t like pickled or frozen green beans we are eating beans every day at every meal. I don’t need to preserve greens since they grow year round in my garden. Any excess goes to other kitchens or the compost pile.
We are getting a heat wave these days in southern California. This means fruit is ripening nicely in the garden, a new round of grilling and freezing awaits. I am praying that my freezer is large enough.
For more delicious pictures and stories of harvests and to add your own, head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Monday, and take a look at what other gardeners have been up to this week.