Well, it’s Labor Day weekend and I hope everyone who celebrates it is enjoying it! Here in Northern Illinois, it’s a bit hazy but warm and we’re expecting some possible storms this afternoon. (I’m not going to lie – we could use some more rain!) I also have to be honest in that I could use a day of relaxation or three.
I’ve been a pickling and canning nut the last few weeks, along with freezing and drying. I’ve made a few batches of fermented dill pickles (also know as half-sour dills) and if you’d like to try my recipe, you can find it here. I’ve also made bread and butter pickles and cucumber sandwich chips with garlic; I hope to be posting those recipes soon.
In the fall and winter months, I stuff these hot little babies with provolone wrapped in prosciutto and they’re a party favorite with my family and friends. Hot stuffed cherry peppers were a popular appetizer when I lived out East and I had to come up with my own recipe, since there weren’t any out there at the time. (and I don’t know that there still are any out there. I know I found some once at a deli bar in my local grocery and they were simply awful)
I’m also freezing a ton of green beans and Asian long beans, which both freeze beautifully and are another treat in the dead of winter. If you want to know how easy it is to freeze green beans, here’s my post on getting it done. Of course, these are an easy side dish to defrost but they’re also great in soups, stir fry’s and stews.
I’ve fired up my Nesco food dehydrator and have dried some of my garden oregano already. There’s no substitute for my own dried oregano when I’m making homemade pasta sauces and soups in the winter time. The flavor and quality of drying your own herbs at home, under a controlled temperature, is totally worth it. I set my food dehydrator at about 95° and, using freshly picked, cleaned and towel-dried herbs, dry them for about 10 hours or so. The timing really depends on the herb, but once you’ve started drying your own this way, you’ll never buy store-bought again. Of course, you can dry your own herbs, even without a food dehydrator. For many years, I simply cut stalks of herbs, tied their stems together with twine or a band and hung them upside down to dry for a week or so. Once they’re dry, you simply break the herbs off their stalks and store them in a clean container. (canning jars are great for storing herbs, as long as you keep them in a dark pantry or cabinet; if you keep your herbs on the kitchen counter, try to find an opaque container to store them in.
We’ve been enjoying patty pan squash, zucchini, eggplant, and Swiss chard, too. Our tomatoes are just starting to reach the “what do I do with a whole bunch of tomatoes” level, in which case, of course, I freeze them and also make canned salsa.
Last year, hubby and I grew our own ghost chilies, so of course we made ghost chili salsa with them! This ended up being a favorite of ours and this year we’ll be making a similar batch with our homegrown Scotch Bonnet peppers. (we’re crazy, I know)
I’ve harvested a lot of fresh dill seeds to plant in the garden next year and will use the extra for cooking and quick pickling. My cilantro is going to seed, too, and when it’s ready I’ll harvest all of it for my own coriander.
My fresh parsley is insane, so I’ve been making batches of chimichurri sauce and freezing it. It freezes just as well as my pesto does and is another great way to preserve your herb garden. Of course, you can also make frozen herb cubes with your garden herbs; this works with either water or olive/grapeseed oil and you’ll love that you did so, come December.
Last, but certainly not least, if you have a ton of zucchini piling up on you, don’t forget to check out my easy, homemade zucchini bread recipe. I’ve tweaked it a bit from my mom’s recipe but the basis of it has been a die-hard recipe for generations.
Again, I hope to have some new recipes posted soon and I’d love to hear how you’re enjoying your veggie garden this year! Thanks for stopping by!