The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse here in Portland. There has been non-stop heavy rain for over a week and not only has it played havoc with my guttering but it has also beaten my Tomatoes almost to the ground. There is little chance that the remaining Tomatoes will ripen so in they came.
This is a pretty good haul. I may even have to double or triple my Green Tomato Chutney recipe in honour of this. My neighbours might also get to try some good ole British chutney. I’m sure they will be eating Ploughman’s Lunch before we know it :)
It’s getting to be that time of year when you start to think about how to save as much of your harvest as possible. Right now the Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, and Beans are in abundance. The harvest baskets are overflowing. But keep an eye on the weather. Pretty soon there’ll be a nip in the air and that’s when you’ll need to start thinking about preserving.
I’m part of a smaller Master Gardener group called the ‘Community Cultivators’ – cultivating community, get it? And we have a Harvest Festival event planned for early September. So we harvested this little lot from the local vegetable demo garden.
And had ourselves a pickling party. It was lots of fun. Much chopping, washing, tea-drinking, chatting, laughing, chopping, washing, packing and ultimately squashing.
Our bible for the pickling was The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. A great book with recipes and combinations that were both traditional and unusual. Definitely recommended reading.
The best thing about pickling with other people – apart from the volume of pickles produced – is the tips that you pick up along the way and the new ideas that you experience. Like, how you should always remove the blossom end of your cucumbers before pickling because it makes them soft. I also discovered a new spice, Grains of Paradise.
And I did not know that you can pickle Nasturtium seeds!
We filled half of the jars with a vinegar solution for pickling and half with a salt solution for brining. The pickles were sealed and put in the fridge and the brined vegetables were weighed down with bags of brine and left without lids in the basement to ferment.
I can’t wait to taste them!
My Gherkins are almost ready to plant out. I sowed them about a month ago under fleece outside. They germinated quite quickly but then some bad weather meant that they have been growing very, very slowly. The sunny weather last week has quickened them on a pace though. And now they’re nearly ready to go out.
I’ll plant them in a sunny patch with a cane for each one to grow up. You can grow them along the ground like Cucumbers but I find that they use up too much room that way. From seven plants I should get around six or seven Gherkins per plant which means around 50 pickles! Yey!
Bad news and good news. The bad news is that I spotted the dreaded blight on my beloved Tomatoes. The good news is that I had to cut out three infected branches which had a bunch of green Tomatoes on them – a great excuse to make Green Tomato Chutney.Â I also have some Gherkins ready so tomorrow is pickling day!