Saturday, October 29, 2011

Early Snow

It's still only October, but there's a good three inches of snow on the ground and it's still falling thick and fast outside my window. In anticipation of the storm and the cold weather that has accompanied it, earlier this week we finally brought in all the last cold sensitive items from the garden - tomatoes (ripe, half ripe, and green), sweet peppers, and hot peppers. We still have broccoli, leeks, fennel, carrots, radishes, and lots of greens out there that like the cold and will probably be just fine.

Green peppers (both hot and sweet) will continue to ripen if brought indoors and kept somewhere cool and dark. Some people like to bring in the whole plant and hang it upside down, but I've also had good luck just keeping a big pile of peppers in a paper bag in my chilly pantry. Tomatoes will also ripen indoors, though the quality will never be as good as summer tomatoes (even the ones that ripen on the vine late in the season suffer in flavor from the cold nights).

I roasted the ripe tomatoes and put them in the freezer. The half ripe ones are sitting in a bowl to ripen over the next week or so. The green ones (about 10 lbs) I think I'm going to use for Green Tomato and Apple Chutney, which I will can (but first I need to get some more canning jars).

Green peppers can be frozen just like ripe ones (halve, seed, freeze freezer bags), but I'm hoping some more of mine will ripen up before they shrivel. The hot peppers I decided to try pickling this year, something I have not done before. Now I have 9 half-pint jars of lovely red, green, and purple pickled hot peppers. Pickling mellows their heat and intensifies their flavor, making their great for pizza, salsa, Mexican eggs, nachos, etc.

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