I made up a batch of these green tomato pickles to use up some of the unripe tomatoes knocked off the vines during our recent hail storm. We picked all the storm damaged fruit, and trimmed off the spoiled bits, saving the undamaged parts for preserving. I found a number of green tomato recipes, but pickled green tomatoes seemed most likely to appeal to my family. (The crew groaned out loud at the green tomato mincemeat recipe.) We like dill pickles, so why not dilly tomatoes? [Read more…]
This week were were hit by a hail storm while my son and I were running errands. As we were pulling away from our home, I looked over at the garden and noticed how big and healthy the squash patch was looking, and how glad I was that we were expecting much needed rain. While we were driving around, the rain started pouring in buckets, but I wasn't concerned. Then the hail started, but it was spotty, so I still wasn't concerned. It was only when I turned onto the last stretch of road to our home that my heart dropped.
The road was filled with fallen leaves. As I pulled up to our home, I saw the squash patch – leveled to the ground with hail damage. The rest of the garden had plenty of weather damage, too – damaged fruit, damaged flowers, shredded and stripped leaves – it was pretty awful. Damaged crops are a given. How bad it will be remains to be seen. I can't unmake the storm, but I can share our strategies for dealing with the weather damage in the garden, and options to help prevent hail damage. [Read more…]
A lot of us are trying to stretch our food budgets by growing our own or purchasing in bulk. Many are also joining CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) programs, which provide them with produce (and sometimes other items) throughout the growing season. To take full advantage of local food sources, we need to find ways to store food after harvest. This post will give you a brief overview of different home food preservation methods, and direct you to addition resources. Then you can decide which methods works best for you.
Welcome to the Weekly Weeder series, where we help you identify wild plants and how to use them. Today's featured plant is Butter and eggs, Linaria vulgaris.
Butter and eggs is also know as yellow toadflax, wild snapdragon, flaxweed, bread and butter, false flax, brideweed, bridewort, Jacob's-ladder, rabbit flower, imprudent lawyer, pennywort and a host of other names.
The name “snapdragon” originates from the “popping” or “snapping” sound that is made when you squeeze the flower. According to Wildflowers of Wisconsin, the other common name, toadflax, is based on how the flower opens wide like a frog or toad's mouth when squeezed. (I wonder if the name “imprudent lawyer” is linked to that wide open mouth, too?)
A European import, it has now naturalized over most of North America, including inside my greenhouse. Though less commonly used than many other herbs, it does have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. [Read more…]
Back when I worked catering, we were required by the health department to use plastic cutting boards because “they were more sanitary”. Like so many well-intentioned government agencies, they were wrong. This post explains why wooden cutting boards are better than plastic or glass and why I only use wood cutting boards in my kitchen. [Read more…]
I've tried a few home canned tomato soup recipes over the years, but none of them were quite what I wanted for my family. All we wanted was a simple tomato soup, something like Campbells or Amy's, but using our own home grown tomatoes. I think this year we finally have a winner. This tomato soup recipe for canning is slightly thickened/concentrated, so it takes up less storage space. When ready to serve, you can add your choice of water, broth or milk. [Read more…]
My mother-in-law brought over a photo collage for my birthday last week featuring old photos from our homestead – before it was a homestead. Bare grass and gently rolling terrain was all there was to see. It was quite a reminder about how much things have changed around here. I thought you all might enjoy a little peek into how things have changed over the years. Our place will never be quite like grandma's homestead, but we've made a pretty nice oasis of growing things here. [Read more…]
This home canned salsa recipe rates an “Awesome!” from friends and family alike. To keep the salsa “canning friendly”, it contains a higher proportion of tomatoes than most fresh salsa recipes, plus added vinegar to lower the pH. (More on Safe Salsas for Canning at the end of the post.)
The taste and texture of this salsa recipe is similar to a popular commercial brand we used to use, but canning with your fresh local produce at the peak of ripeness really makes the flavors sing. [Read more…]
I came up with this low sugar apple currant spread to use up this year's bumper crop of currants. Since currants are quite tart, currant jelly uses a lot of sugar. Currant seeds are sizable, so I knew a regular jam wouldn't be popular with my family. (Plus, currant jam is still loaded with sugar.) Instead, I cooked up my currants and ran them through the chinois (food mill). This gave a mix of juice and a little bit of puree. I cooked the currant juice/puree up with some applesauce (and cinnamon), but it was still very runny and tart. (Both currants and apples have natural pectin, but not quite enough in this case.) I added sugar for sweetening, and some Pomona's low sugar pectin for thickening. Voila! [Read more…]
Some people avoid home canning because they're afraid of botulism poisoning, but following the right guidelines will help you prevent foodborne illness. Botulism spores are everywhere – from the deep ocean to mountain tops. You're likely breathing them right now. It's only under specific conditions that they become dangerous. In this post we'll cover botulism causes, symptoms and treatment. You'll learn how to prevent botulism in home canned food so you can can safely. [Read more…]