Category Archives: Recipes

Fall Harvest: 5 Ways to Use Green Tomatoes

Fall is a beautiful time of year but it does bring an end to summertime, heat-loving veggies. If a frost is in the forecast for your area, it’s time to pick any green tomatoes that are still in your garden. While crops like winter squash and pumpkins simply need to be cured for winter storage figuring out what to do with crates of green tomatoes can be a bit tougher. Here are 5 ways you can use them up.

Fried Green Tomatoes

The classic way to serve green tomatoes is battered and fried and for good reason! Fried green tomatoes are delicious. If you’ve never had them, give this simple recipe a try.

Combine 1 egg with 1/2 cup of milk. In a separate dish whisk together 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp of garlic powder or a couple cloves of fresh minced garlic. You can also add a touch of chili powder or other spices to taste. In another dish, set out 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Slice 2-4 tomatoes into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices. 

Dunk each slice into the plain flour, then the egg and milk, and then the cornmeal mixture. Preheat a cast iron pan with 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. Drop tomatoes into the hot oil and fry on each side until golden-brown.

Ripen Tomatoes

If you’ve got space to keep them fresh you can also ripen your green tomatoes. All you need to do is lay them out in a single layer, so they’re not touching. Store them at room temperature and check them at least often to use any that are ripening and remove any that are rotting. Any blemished tomatoes should be used immediately because they’ll probably rot before they ripen. 

Some varieties of tomatoes are made to ripen slowly, off the vine to provide fresh winter tomatoes. Learn more about the storage tomatoes we offer here.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

If you love pickles why not try pickled green tomatoes? Pickles are a simple way to preserve the harvest, even for beginning canners. If you’re not into canning you can also make “quick pickles” meaning you just refrigerate them rather than water bath canning them. In a refrigerator, they’ll still keep for a long time. Garden Betty has four awesome recipes.

Green Tomato Relish

Also called chow chow, green tomato relish used to be a common recipe. Green tomato relish was used through the winter to add flavor to all sorts of dishes from meats to sandwiches. Stone Axe Herbals has easy green tomato relish and green tomato salsa recipes that are worth checking out.

Freezing Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are also quite simple to freeze, perfect for making fried green tomatoes throughout the winter! Select firm, unblemished tomatoes and slice them 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices in a container with wax or freezer paper in between layers. 

Eating food from our gardens forces us to slow down and appreciate our food. This fall don’t let any of your harvest go to waste. Try one or two of these ideas to use up your green tomatoes. 

Canning Garlic Dill Pickles

Arkansas Little Leaf Pickling Cucumber

Enjoying something you grew at home months after the garden season is over is a satisfying part of being a gardener. If you’re new to food preservation canning pickles is a great place to start. They’re easy to make and are highly acidic meaning that they’re safe to process in a water bath canner rather than a pressure canner. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12 quart-sized canning jars with lids and bands
  • water bath canner
  • about 20lbs of pickling cucumbers
  • 12 cups of water
  • 12 tbs of canning salt
  • 6 cups of vinegar (5% acidity)
  • fresh dill or dill seeds
  • fresh garlic
  • optional: other spices and pickle crisper

Preparation

To begin you’ll need to sanitize your jars and rings. Boil them in your water bath canner for 10 minutes. I’ve found it helpful to tie a cotton string through all the rings so they’re easy to retrieve from the water.

While that’s happening wash and slice your cucumbers. I usually do spears for dill pickles but you can cut them any way you’d like. Bring the water, vinegar, and salt to a boil, stirring it until all the salt is dissolved.

Packing Jars

Pack each jar with 2 fresh dill sprigs or 2 teaspoons of dill seed and 4 cloves of garlic (I like to mince mine but you don’t have to), and cucumber slices, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. You can also add other spices like mustard seeds, red pepper flakes or even a fresh hot pepper to each jar depending on your taste. If desired you can also use a product like Ball Pickle Crisper to help ensure your pickles stay crunchy. It can be added to jars at 1/4 tsp per quart.

Pour the hot brine into the jars, covering the cucumbers, and leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth and place new lids on, securing them with sanitized rings twisted finger tight.

Canning

Place your filled jars into your water bath canner (you may have to do several batches), making sure they’re covered with water. Bring them to a boil and process them for 15 minutes (adjust for altitude). Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let them stand for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and check their seal after 24 hours. The lids shouldn’t flex up and down in the center when pressed. 

Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used up first. The rest can be stored out of direct sunlight for use throughout the coming year. 

Enjoy your pickles!

 

Zucchini Abundance: 10 Great Ways to Use It

The great zucchini flood has started! This time of year you’ll find many gardeners and farmers with tables, counters, and cabinets overflowing with a bounty of zucchini and summer squash. The first few of the year always seem so magical but a few weeks in it’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume just a few plants can produce. That’s why we’ve rounded up a few ways to use zucchini this season!

Cook It

Breaded & Fried

A simple, quick way to make super tasty zucchini is to bread it and fry it. It may not be the healthiest option but it’s definitely delicious. One of my favorite ways to bread it is with a bit of salt and bloody butcher cornmeal as pictured above. *We’re currently out of bloody butcher seed but you can find pungo creek butcher (a bloody butcher descendant) here.

Stuffed Zucchini

For larger zucchini, stuffing them and baking them is a great option. I  like to use up any fresh vegetables I have on hand, sauteing up onions, garlic, swiss chard, collards, peppers, and tomatoes and mixing them with rice, beans, and spices like oregano, basil, and chili powder. Scoop out the seeds and add this or your own mixture to the zucchini. Top with marinara sauce and bake, covered at 375°F for about 45 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti is a pretty common go-to meal for busy evenings. Next time you make spaghetti use up some of your zucchini by chopping it up into small chunks and sauteing it with onions and garlic before adding it to your spaghetti sauce. Don’t water bath can this type of spaghetti sauce though! The zucchini will decrease the acidity of the sauce making unsafe for canning.

Squash Souffle

Irena’s squash souffle is also a great option for using up zucchini. Follow the link above for this great recipe.

Bake Something

Zucchini’s mild flavor lends itself easily to a variety of baked goods. You can find recipes online for zucchini cakes, muffins, breads, even cookies! I’ve found it makes delicious and moist chocolate cake that can fool even picky eaters.

Preserve It

Zucchini Pineapple

Yes, it sounds super wierd but zucchini pineapple is actually delicious and easy to put up. Basically, all you do is water bath can zucchini in a mixture of pineapple juice, lemon juice, and sugar. It tastes great and can be eaten right of the jar or tossed on a pizza this winter! You can find a recipe over at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Zucchini Chips

Dehydration is a really simple and quick storage tecnique. Zucchini chips are easy to dehydrate and make an excellent snack. All you need to do is slice your zucchini into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, dunk the rounds in apple cider vinegar, and then toss them with spices before dehydrating for 10 hours at about 135°F. Make sure they are fully dry and crisp before moving them to airtight jars for storage.

Fermented Zucchini Pickles

Fermentation is an old and simple way of putting up the harvest. It’s also great for gut health. Fermented foods are full of healthy probiotics. Check out this fermented pickle recipe from Attainable Sustainable to use some of your bounty.

Freeze it

Zucchini is easy to freeze because unlike many vegetables it doesn’t need to be blanched first. For easy use, shred zucchini and freeze in portions for your favorite recipes like zucchini bread.

Other Ideas

Donate it

As a gardener it’s easy to forget how tasty and special fresh, homegrown zucchini is. Even if you’re tired of it there may be people in your area who would love some fresh zucchini. Talk to your neighbors. Maybe there’s someone nearby who’s no longer physically able to garden who would love some. Also, check with local food pantries.

 

Food waste is a rampant problem in the United States. This season try to make the most of all your garden produce. As a last resort chickens love zucchini if you have them or know someone who does.