...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not, Featuring Green Tomatoes

As a novice gardener and canner, I remember wondering why so many recipes in the canning book involved under-ripe or under-developed produce. But "putting up" food over the years has taught me the wisdom in these old recipes. Seasons differ from year to year, and the wise gardener who hopes to feed a family through each barren winter will learn to make the most of whatever is available in the summer.

This week's blog posts come with a theme attached: waste not, want not. After all, squirrels and chipmunks aren't the only creatures thinking of putting back whatever can be scavenged when autumn gets well settled. Humans have traditionally thought in those terms, as well, particularly before the local grocery made "seasonless" shopping an option.

The picture above shows my typical ration of ripe to green cherry tomatoes this season in the garden. I tried all the tricks: pruning bulk branches, fertilizing, finally inquiring of other local gardeners...I learned that everyone is facing the same dilemma: full-bodied but unripe tomatoes. That doesn't mean, however, that my cherry tomato plant was just so much lost space in the garden. It simply meant flipping a few pages over in Ball Blue Book of preserving (my most frequently used canning book) to the dill green tomatoes recipe.

The recipe calls for 5 pounds of green tomatoes to be evenly distributed in 6 sterilized pint jars, along with 1 bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic and 2 tsp. of dill seed per jar. While filling the jars, heat 3 1/2 C vinegar, 3 1/2 C water and 1/4 C canning salt in a sauce pot. When the mixture boils, it is ready to add to the jars, up to 1/4 inch headspace.

Don't forget to run a thin spatula around the inside of the jar after filling. This particular mix tends to trap air bubbles more than some others do, bubbles that can lead to spoilage. Then it's off to the boiling water canner for 15 minutes processing.

Every post this week will have something to do with waste-free garden and kitchen life. Today, it was the green tomatoes that could have been left to ruin at that first frost--a day not too far away--and the dill seeds, garden fare with a purpose beyong just starting next summer's dill crop. Tomorrow, we'll take a different tack, but we'll stick to the theme of avoiding waste. By the end of the week, we'll see what wisdom we've gleaned from our week of discovery learning.

Happy preserving!

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