Monday, August 24, 2015

Harvest Monday - August 24, 2015


This past week, we harvested the rest of the Burbank plums:

Burbank Plums
 
We had a couple of bowlfuls like the one above and only had to toss a few due to Japanese beetle damage.  Burbanks are supposed to be more or less reddish all over, but we had to harvest ours before they fully ripened because the Japanese beetles zoned in on any that were near ripe and started to devour them.  The plums themselves were really good – sweet, with a tart finish from the skin.  I liked them more than the Shiros which I found a bit bland in comparison.

But after harvesting over 9 lbs. of plums, the question was what could I use them for.  I decided to make plum jelly and plum sorbet – neither of which I had ever made nor even tasted before.

Plum Sorbet
 
The sorbet is delicious - creamy, tart & sweet.  I cut up the plums, removing the pits but leaving on the skins, cooked them down so that the skins got very soft and the pulp more or less dissolved and then whizzed them up in the blender.  Super easy & super good.  Another bonus is that plum sorbet doesn't need that much added sugar to give it a creamy consistency.  I used only 150 grams/1000 grams of pitted plums.

The jelly was equally delicious; we couldn't help but open a jar the next morning.

Plum Jelly
 
Last year I used a "no sugar added" pectin to cut down on the sugar when I made strawberry jam, but I found that it imparted a taste to the jam that I wasn’t particularly fond of.  This time round, I decided to make the jelly without any pectin.  And the results were incredible – sweet/tart and perfectly set.  The jelly is a bit cloudy - I guess I wasn't as careful not to shake/squeeze the bag when I was hanging it up as I should have been.  I'm not bothered by the lack of a crystal clear jelly so long as the taste is there, which it most definitely was.

Perfectly set without adding pectin
 
We don't eat a whole lot of jam/jelly at our house - it's more of a weekend treat than an everyday spread.  Last year I canned the strawberry jam in 250ml (1/2 pint) jars and found those to be much too large for our use - an open jar would only be half done after a month, which is about as long as I would want it hanging around in the refrigerator for.  So this time round, I used the even smaller 125 ml jars.  I think that those will be the perfect size for us.

Several different pepper varieties were picked this week.  It was a first for the Melrose and Tam Jalapenos, while the Padrons & Pepperoncino’s were repeats:

From left to right:  Padrons, Melrose, Tam Jalapeno, Pepperoncino
 
There was another picking of Pepperoncino (that one is turning out to be a very prolific variety) and Hungarian Hot Wax:

Pepperoncino & Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
 
I also harvested the first of the Ostra Cyklon, but only a portion of one of the peppers was salvageable:

One perfect & one damaged Ostra Cyklon
 
I’m thinking this is either slug or earwig damage; I haven’t mulched the bed & this pepper was in direct contact with the ground, which is never a good thing.

On the tomato front, I harvested the first of the Taxi tomatoes:

Taxi Tomatoes
 
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bright yellow on a tomato before.  And this tomato not only has great looks, it also has great taste, which was a bit of a surprise.  For some reason, I took a bite thinking it would be bland, but it had quite the fruity flavour happening.

The first of the Aunt Rubys and Mountain Magics were also harvested, shown here with some Bloody Butcher, Yellow Pear & Sungold tomatoes:


Clockwise from the top left:  Bloody Butcher, Sungold,
Mountain Magic, Aunt Ruby's, Yellow Pear
 
I also picked several Costoluto Genovese tomatoes:


Costoluto Genovese
 
I’m sure you are noticing that most of them are nowhere near ripe – but there’s a reason why I am harvesting them this early.  The Costoluto Genovese vines have been severely affected by blight and the way things are going, I likely won't be getting that many more tomatoes from them.

This year, I really wanted to test this variety as a sauce tomato.  I had read that it was ok as an eating tomato but truly outstanding when it was cooked up into a sauce.  I should be pulling up the plants to give the other tomatoes in that bed a fighting chance, but I’m holding off…only for a little bit.  I want to get a few more tomatoes in order to make & can a sauce from these.  There are several large tomatoes left on the plant and as soon as they show a hint of colour, I’m pulling them off to ripen indoors.  Once all of these large tomatoes are picked, out it comes.

I also harvested a huge broccoli side shoot:

Bloody Butcher tomatoes plus one large Arcadia side shoot
 
It looks like all the shoots from that plant will be fairly large (although this will likely be the biggest).  I wonder what the difference is with that particular plant – all of the others are producing shoots that are much smaller, maybe about 1/10th the size.

Also harvested but not photographed were a Lemon and Chelsea Prize cucumber – those plants are in rapid decline and I have a feeling they may not even make it to the end of the month.

My harvest totals this week were:

Broccoli – 370 grams (0.82 lbs)
Cucumbers – 462 gram (1.02 lbs)
Sweet Peppers – 86 grams (0.19 lbs)
Hot Peppers – 620 grams (1.37 lbs)
Tomatoes – 5,535 grams (12.20 lbs)
Plums – 4,315 grams (9.51 lbs)

Total for Week – 11,388 grams (25.11 lbs)

Total to Date – 67.89 kg (149.67 lbs)

To see what everyone else has been harvesting over the past week, head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions, our host for Harvest Mondays.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

39 comments:

  1. Really nice harvest, Margaret. I had the same munching problem on some of the Jimmy Nardellos that were close to the ground, don'y know what it was. The plum jelly looks good, one of my favorites (along with elderberry). We used to make strawberry freezer jam with liquid pectin. No cooking and it retains the fresh taste of the strawberries.

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    1. I've heard of freezer jams but never tried them. If those dang Fort Laramie strawberries actually gave me a 2nd harvest like they are supposed to, I'd be able to try that this year.

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  2. That jelly looks perfect to me. I don't eat a lot of jelly or jam either. The sad thing is that I like to make it. I kept looking for broccoli side shoots to pick, but didn't see any this week. I miss them.

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    1. I know what you mean - I really like making jam & seeing all those jars in the cold cellar. But I think we can all do without all that sugar, so I don't really want to encourage my family to eat it on a daily basis. A thin layer on toast once or twice on the weekend is more than enough. I hope your broccoli plants are good to you and give you a few more shoots before the season is over.

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  3. Fabulous harvests, Margaret. Glad your Taxis finally came in. They are enjoyable, aren't they. It's interesting you didn't use pectin and had such great jelly results.

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    1. That Taxi's are great - they are definitely going to be included again in next years lineup. I was actually surprised at how well the jelly came out. My plums must have had a good amount of pectin all on their own - I used the cold plate test to see if the jelly was cooked down enough & it worked like a charm.

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  4. I've always thought that yellow tomatoes were all bland, nice to know there's an exception, I might have to give Taxi a try. The sowbugs occasionally go for my peppers that touch the soil and sometimes the tips rot and sometimes they get BER. There's so many things that can go wrong, it's a wonder we harvest anything that looks good. The Costolutos are so interesting looking. Your plums and your jam are both beautiful.

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    1. That was my impression of yellow tomatoes too, which is why I was surprised when these had such a fruity taste. I do see sow bugs in the garden - in fact, I saw one crawling up the side of the pepper bed just yesterday, so that may very well be it. And I had to laugh when I read your comment - it really IS amazing that we harvest so many good looking veg, all things considered.

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  5. So impressive, Margaret!
    Those Costoluto Genovese tomatoes are darn right beautiful! It's a shame you had to pull them early, but better safe than sorry. Hope they ripen up well for you--let us know how they turn out for sauce. Those are so pretty I might try them next year.

    As for the jelly--who cares about clarity---taste is what counts. I think it looks great! And we're the same way--not much of a jam/jelly family, but a few SMALL jars would be nice.

    Have a wonderful week

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    1. I also meant to add that my mother used to make plum rolls. Oh, tasty heaven on a plate!!!! She made a sweet roll dough and placed one pitted plum on it and folded the squares of dough around it, dipping it in cinnamon sugar and butter and baking them in a pan. The smell drove us nuts as kids. Oh cripes---now I want some!!!!

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    2. I really LOVE the look of the Costoluto Genovese too - so beautiful. I grew them last year and found their raw taste to be really nice, which I was quite happy about - I always think it's such a shame when beautiful veg don't live up to their looks in the taste department. Unlike last year, when I basically combined whatever tomatoes were ripe when I made sauce, this time round I'm setting each variety aside to make variety specific sauce. I will definitley report back my results.

      Those plum rolls sound delicious! I actually had one last small picking of the Burbanks that are currently in the fridge. I think I will try making some.

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  6. Hi Margaret, You have been busy! The sorbet sounds healthy and the jelly looks delicious! We don't eat a lot of that here either but like some on hand. I don't grow plums and hardly evere buy them for some reason. The yellow tomatoes are so pretty! Are they as yummy as the red ones? Nancy

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    1. The yellow tomatoes are really good, with a light, fruity taste - you should give them a go as they really add to the beauty AND taste of a tomato salad!

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  7. I love your tomato varieties! I'm definitely going to plant a yellow or orange variety next year.

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    1. Thank you Daisy! A variety of colours really adds to the visual interest on the plate. The trick is to find varieties that both look and taste good. Trickier than is sounds as so much can affect a tomatoes flavour like weather, soil, etc.

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  8. What a beautiful basket of tomatoes, and the Taxis are amazing looking! I've stuck mostly with Black Krim and amish paste so I'm missing out on the pretty colours. And what a great variety of peppers, so many! I love plums but failed with my three trees (bad location). I plan to look for some at the markets this weekend.

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    1. Thanks Susie - I'm actually a bit worried about my plum tree. I've had to trim off some black knot this year & am worried that it will spread. I've already made a note to get another tree planted next year, just in case.

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  9. Great ideas with the plum sorbet and jelly, they sure look delicious. Beautiful tomatoes and pepper harvest, love the Taxi color, glad to learn the flavor matches the color.

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    1. Thanks Norma - I was so pleased that both the sorbet and jelly were delicious as both were a first for me, both in the making and the eating.

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  10. I think the plum jelly and sorbet look delicious, I haven't had a single plum from my tree this year, fingers crossed for next year. I can see what you mean about the double Bloody Butcher tomatoes, none of mine have grown that way this year but I'm really impressed with them, I'll definitely grow them again. You seem to have grown a nice selection of tomatoes, different colours and different sizes, it's good to have a bit of variation.

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    1. Thanks Jo! I love growing tomatoes - I think that is one crop where I will always want to try at least one or two new varieties, even if I really like the ones that I am already growing. At some point, I'm sure it will be difficult to decide which varieties get dropped from that years grow list so that I can keep doing that.

      Our plum trees are fairly new (5 years) and after getting a few plums as a teaser 2 years ago, we had nothing last year, which was very disappointing. Fingers crossed that your plum trees will step up next year and give you a nice harvest.

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  11. What a wonderful harvest and fantastic looking jelly. I also don't like to use too much sugar so a bit of real-fruit taste shows through.

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    1. Very true, Jenny - I want to taste those strawberries & plums, otherwise, what's the point?

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  12. We just purchased an ice cream maker. I never would have thought of plums.

    We may however, make some basil ice cream soon. That'll be a first.

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    1. I haven't used our ice cream maker in years, so it was good to bring it out and use it making a relatively healthy dessert with our own fruit. Basil ice cream sounds interesting - you'll have to let us know how it turns out.

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  13. The plums look wonderful and I bet the jelly and sorbet is tasty. I love the variety and colors of your peppers too. I am sorry to read about the blight on your tomatoes. The humidity has been brutal on the garden this summer. I hope you are able to coax out a few more Costoluto Genovese.

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    1. Thanks Rachel - when it comes to peppers and tomatoes, there definitely is no shortage of varieties to experiment with!

      I've picked a few more Costoluto Genovese off the plant and each morning I'm out there doing the examination to see if there is that bit of blush on them. I really hope they hurry up as each day that passes makes me more and more anxious about my other tomato plants.

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  14. Oh wow, that's a good harvest and lovely dishes made from it. I'm not going to make many preserves this year for the same reason as you - all the sugar, plus even with giving lots away I end up with loads of jars still. I just found a jar of quince jelly from 2011, which is still good! But hopefully I will make apple and elderberry jelly, it has a really good flavour and I can't think of much else to use elderberries for, it makes a great Xmas pressie too.
    All your toms look amazing. The ones that are a bit green remind me of the ones in continental Europe, that often have a green tinge but lovely flavour.
    I've had a tomato damaged similar to your pepper but rather than sitting on the ground it's leaning on the glass wall of the lean-to. I reckon a slug is eating it at night!

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    1. Thanks Lou! I found that I prefer freezing strawberries to making jam with them - you can use them in so many ways then, and they stay "au natural". But the plum jelly is just amazing - we had some yesterday, even though it was mid-week. It's still summer vacation, so that's our excuse ;) I do recall making raspberry jam in the past (also no pectin) and really liking it, so I think I will try that at some point again. I can't wait until we have enough fruit to make jams & jellies for Christmas - maybe next year, if we are lucky. Ugh...those slugs just get into everything, don't they. That's the one benefit of having a dry year - they are much scarcer then.

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  15. Wow, perfectly jelled plum jelly and beautiful Costoluto tomatoes, I grew them once, they are so pretty but don't remember the taste.

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    1. Thank's Mac - I haven't tasted any of the Costoluto tomatoes this year as I'm hoarding them for sauce, but last year I wrote down that they actually taste pretty good, so in this case, their beauty is not only skin deep ;)

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  16. I grew Taxi a few years ago and that's how I remember it - bright yellow like a Taxi cab and very tasty! I love making fruit sorbets too. Too bad the beetles like the plums as much as you do!

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    1. Yes, those darn japanese beetles. I think the biggest problem was that I didn't start doing the ol' picking them off and dropping them into a container of soapy water soon enough & they probably notified all their friends. Next year, I'll have to be more on the ball.

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  17. Love seeing your big bowl full of plums and baskets full of tomatoes. Your tomatoes are looking picture perfect. I've done a lot of canning but never tried making jams or jellies, yours look luscious.

    Isn't it funny how some tomatoes can surprise us with their flavor. A lot of the tomatoes were somewhat bland for me this year because of the tons of rain we got, but there were a few standouts. Like Big Rainbow, a pale yellow tomato with streaks of color and tart tomato goodness.

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    1. Thanks Phuong! That's the thing with tomatoes - so many things can influence their flavour that it's sometimes hard to know if bland flavour is because of the weather, soil or variety. Big Rainbow sounds good. I'm so glad that even with all that rain, you still have some yummy toms coming out of your garden!

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  18. No Japanese beetles we have wasps instead. Pity about the sugar free pectin.

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    1. Eek...I think I prefer the beetles & not having to worry about being stung ;)

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  19. Oh, your tomatoes are so lovely! I have the hardest time growing them, but I keep at it. One day I may get a decent tomato off of them. I think your plum jelly looks yummy! I don't eat very much either. I think next jelly/jam I make that I may try the smaller jars too.

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    1. Tomatoes can be tricky and they are quite the disease magnet unless your weather is just right. I find it pretty surprising the difference in performance between varieties, so it's worth trying lots of different ones as you are bound to eventually hit "THE" variety that really suits your growing conditions. And I'm just loving the tiny jars!

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