Garden Clippings


| October 2007



GardenClippings-Tomatoes.jpg

Now is your last chance to use this year's garden produce

The average date for the first frost here in Topeka, Kan., is October 15. Depending on your geographic location, the average date in your area may be several weeks earlier or later. No matter what the date is, it will be a time to scramble and save the last offerings of the vegetable garden until next season.

That first frost will turn tender foliage dark and limp, and it will also reveal an enormity of vegetables still on the vine. Peppers, tomatoes, and winter squash and pumpkins stick out like a sore thumb as the eyes survey the damage. Now is the time to take care of the crop.

Peppers

Remaining peppers in the garden can be pickled, dried or frozen. Freezing is my choice of these options, even though the peppers will be mushy when they thaw out, making them unfit for a salad. However, they will still retain a good taste and be a welcome addition to cooked recipes.

Tomatoes

In my opinion, fried green tomatoes are only good for a meal or two, and pickled green tomatoes will only use up a small amount of the remainder. So, what are we to do with the rest? Let them ripen.

With a little forethought, green tomatoes can be ripened in succession to give three to four more weeks of homegrown treats. Tomatoes that are beginning to show a little yellowing will ripen if you simply let them sit on the counter, but those that are pure greenies may need a little help.

Mature-size green tomatoes should be the ones used for ripening; smaller ones should be reserved for the skillet or canning jar. Place the tomatoes in a plastic bag with some holes for airflow (I use saved plastic potato sacks perforated for this purpose), then place the bag away from direct sunlight. Paper bags can also be used to do this, but it's much harder to check the ripening progress when you can't see through the bag.





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