Fall clean-up is starting. Today I’ll discuss - Dill, zucchini and salsa and Zoodles!
Fall is in the air and my gardening is winding down. I thought I’d share some of the things I do this time of the year to prepare to put my garden to rest and be sure that the food I’ve grown is preserved for next year.
I have plans to go out this afternoon and pick some dill weed to put in my dehydrator. Dill weed is the “leaves” of the dill plant. It doesn’t really look like leaves it is like a soft needleish sort of thing. (Ha, my auto correct wants to make that word into needlefish J)
First thing to do is pull the plant tip it over into a paperbag and give it a good shake. Seeds will fall out into the bag.
Then pull the leaves off with your fingers and lay the leaves on a dehydrator tray. It is wise to have a cookie sheet or some sort of tray underneath your mesh. It is small stuff and some of it will fall through the screen. Put it in your dehydrator or for a couple of hours. When it crumbles it is done. Use the dill weed in casseroles and eggs in the mornings throughout the year. I really love the dill flavor with our venison. Make a venison pot pie and add some dill…… yum!
The dill heads are mostly ready too so I’ll probably take care of most of that today too. The dill heads are ready as soon as the seeds are looking dry. You don’t want to wait too long because when it is dry it will start falling off the plant. That is just what it is supposed to do. What we do to save it is simply bend the stalk over placing the head in a plastic bag. Then give it a good shake. Much of the seeds will fall right off.
If your heads are still a little green you can also just cut the whole head off and place them in a paperbag. As the head dries the seeds will fall off and end up in the bottom of the bag. Don’t pull those heads off too early though, you do want to allow the seeds to mature.
I also have several HUGE zucchini ready. Now Zucchini doesn’t really can very well. I soppose you could can it… but it would be mush in my opinion. Can it in soup recipes but I’d not recommend canning it by itself. However I DO highly recommend dehydrating zucchini.
Zucchini does not need to be blanched before dehydrating, just cut it up and dehydrate. The skins can get thick and tough. If it is a large zucchini that I forgot about in the garden I peel it first. If it is young and tender dehydrate it with the skins right on it.
You can slice it thin, sprinkle it with some seasoning salt and dehydrate it for snacking like chips. A mandolin slicer works best for slicing nice even thin slices. But if you don’t have one a sharp knife and careful hand does well too.
My preferred method for dehydrating zucchini is to dice it up and dry it that way. I use dried zucchini for soup, stews or whatever all winter long. It is a great way to sneak in some vegetables. Many casseroles have dried zucchini, I’ll even add it to my spaghetti sauce. I’ve considered adding it to chili… but I might get some objections from my guys. They do have limits.
year I got a great idea from my friend Vickilynn Haycraft of Real Food Living.... Zoodles! Listen as I explain just what these are and how to make them easily.
I also need to go out and pick more ripe tomatoes. My tomatoes always ripen late in the year. We have very cool nights and lately we’ve been having cool days as well. Tomatoes need heat to ripen so we’ll have to see how many more ripen up.
This year I’ve been freezing my tomatoes as I pick them. My reason is actually a mistake I made this spring. I bought Roma tomatoes just like I do every year. However the variety of Roma that I got this year are actually a pretty small tomato. More of a plum tomato size. They are tasty but it is such a pain to blanch and peel all those small tomatoes.
If you freeze tomatoes, as they thaw they practically peel themselves. Run them under warm water and as the peels thaw they slip right off the tomato. Then allow the rest of the tomato to thaw and you can use as normal.
I’ve got lots of peppers in my garden right now ready to pick as well so I’ll be doing salsa in the next week. I don’t have a salsa recipe on my site yet because I’ve not yet found that perfect recipe.
Remember with salsa the acidity of the recipe is what makes it safe to process in a waterbath. Use a tested recipe, then change up the spices to get the flavor you want. Be sure and stick to the ratio of tomatoes, vinegar and other veggies (peppers and onions) to maintain a safe acidity. I’ve used the base recipe out of the ball blue book.
I think I’ll try another recipe I found on our state extension service website this year. If it meets approval I’ll get it up on my site.
September is apple season here. We live in an area where there are lots of orchards. So we usually get to go and pick our apples direct from the field. I LOVE where I live. Next show I think I’ll discuss All Things Apples! Because there are Lots of things you can do with apples.
After apple season is hunting season. If you are a hunter be sure and listen to the
show I did last time. I talked about how
I got started canning meat and how easy it really is. If you are interested in canning meat you might check out my Elk and Venison Recipes book. How to use home canned meat in your recipes.