Ground Cherries

Great article on ground cherries today, which you can find here.  We got our seeds for the ground cherries in our garden from Hudson Valley Seed Library as well.  It’s said they’re super easy to grow but we had a hard time just getting ours to germinate.

Ground cherries look like miniature tomatillos, with a similar papery husk and plants that grow quite bushy and wild if left unstaked.  However, unlike tomatillos, they are very sweet, hence their name.  I think they’d be great in a jam if you had enough of them.

Although ours took awhile to get started, they hung in there once we transplanted them into the garden.  We gave some to our garden neighbors Anne and Sebastian, and once in their plot, they took off and are HUGE now.  Ours are not so large, probably as a result of a failure to weed properly early on.  Still, we should definitely get enough to assuage our appetites for this delicious fruit.

Ground cherries are ripe when they fall to the ground (hence the name GROUND cherries).  You can allow the fruit to ripen in the husk after they’ve been harvested to make them sweeter. They’ll last up to 3 months if you store them in the husk.

Make sure you don’t eat unripe ground cherries! (I unfortunately am guilty of this.) That’s because they contain solanine, which is what makes potatoes toxic when they turn green.

And finally…what to do with all those ground cherries?  There are lots of recipes out there for jams and chutneys and even ground cherry pie, but we have enough already stocked for the coming year.  This recipe looks fantastic.

Fresh Ground Cherry Salsa
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen Magazine)

1 lbs of ripe ground cherries, halved (about 2 cups)
½ lb of ripe Roma or cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large jalapeno chili, seeded, with the flesh finely minced
½ cup minced red onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
½ tsp salt
pinch ground pepper
2-6 tsp lime juice (1-2 limes)
Sugar to taste (up to 1 tsp)

Place tomatoes in colander and let drain 30 minutes. As they drain, layer ground cherries, jalapeno, onion, garlic and cilantro on top. Shake colander to drain off excess juice. Discard. Transfer to large bowl and add salt, pepper and 2 tsp lime juice. Toss to combine. Taste and add minced jalapeno seeds, sugar and lime juice to taste.

Note: This salsa can be made 2-3 hours in advance, but hold off adding the salt, lime juice and sugar until just before serving.

(makes 4 cups)

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Farmer’s Market Sunday

Oh, I’m so far behind in posts.  Maybe I’ll be blogging about the summer in the middle of winter the way I’m going.  So much to do, so much to make, so many blog posts to write.  Guess what’s falling by the wayside?  I’ve had a post on crushed tomatoes waiting to be written for more than a week now!

This week’s loot from the market:

  • One loaf Italian Rustic from Our Daily Bread
  • 1 half-gallon reduced fat milk and 1 pint cream from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1 canteloupe, 1 bag of garlic, two ears sweet corn, and 10 jalapeños from Barber Farm
  • 1lb fresh mozzarella from R&G Cheese.
  • 1lb beer sausage and 1lb ground beef from Sweet Tree Farm

Notes:

  • Oh the milk.  The poor poor milk.  We had TWO half-gallons but one didn’t make it home. That’s what happens when you have a husband who takes the curves at crazy angles, and one bottle smashes against the other.  Like we needed to clean that up on top of everything else we had to do?
  • P.S. We cleaned it up but do you know how bad the car smells now?  Rotten milk baking in the sun, despite our best efforts. Need to get the car detailed.
  • Cream is for more vanilla ice cream.  It’s so good. If only I could stomach the cost of actual vanilla beans and I could have vanilla bean ice cream! Unfortunately, methinks $13 for TWO beans is outrageous. Never mind if it comes from the most exotic lands.
  • We have our own garlic, but with all the canning we’re doing and sauce we’re making we’re running out fast.  I need a whole bed of garlic next year I think.
  • We broke down and bought jalapeños from Barber.  We bought seedlings labeled jalapeños from Peace Tree Farm earlier this year, and they turned out to be cayenne peppers. Not that I don’t appreciate the cayenne peppers, but really, not the same. And the Marconi pepper plants we bought haven’t been very fruitful either.  Not a fan of that farm.  We have lots of tomatillos salsa and stuff to make and we’re going to need some hot stuff!

This week’s menu:

Monday:

  • Salmon Burgers (from Fresh Market, they were so good!), and a salad made from lettuce from Barber, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots from our garden, and sweet corn from Barber Farm

Tuesday:

  • Eggplant parmesan with eggplant and tomatoes from our garden, mozzarella cheese from R&G cheese

Wednesday:

  • Leftover clam sauce and pasta from last week

Thursday:

  • Anniversary dinner!!

Friday:

  • Burgers from Sweet Tree Farm, with swiss chard from our garden

New Harvest

First zucchini of the season!  Very late in the season.  We nearly lost all our zucchini plants, but after we figured out how to combat the powdery mildew problem, was able to save some of them.

Zucchini as big as my arm!

Still, between last year’s squash bugs disaster and this year’s powdery mildew, I’m looking forward to having some sauteed zucchini with dinner this week, and making zucchini bread this weekend!

The dry beans have been growing well all summer, and are finally starting to dry, allowing me to pick them.  More beans for the wintertime!

And finally, the tomatillos are starting to come in, in pounds!

A pound of tomatillos getting ready for preservation

In the meantime, we’re still drowning in tomatoes. Soon there’ll be a post on canning crushed tomatoes. I just need to give them a vinegar rinse and take pics. This time of the year is busy busy!

On recalls and stuff…

Half a billion eggs and counting on the egg recall so far.  And today, a new one, a nationwide deli meat recall from Walmart.  Well, really from a factory farm in upstate NY that sells to Walmart.  This on the heels of the Perdue chicken nugget recall from Walmart in June.

Sitting on top of my soapbox, looking at my eggs that came from chickens I know personally 2 days ago,  I’m feeling pretty smug.  And glad I no longer participate in the “normal” food systems this country.

Sprays for the Garden

It’s a little late in the summer for this, but it’s getting posted for future reference. I often use the search tool on my blog to look up things I’ve previously written about. 🙂

This is our second year using the easiest yet very effective homemade insecticide for our garden.  We had a big issues with our green beans last year, due to the Mexican bean beetle, an ugly little beast that destroyed our plants before we’d gotten more than a large handful of green beans from them.

Photo Credit: Jason Riedy/Flickr CC

Ugh, I hate these guys.  I can sit in the dirt with the best of them, but picking the larvae off the leaves and squishing them between two rocks, the yellow guts shining brightly, icks me out to no end.  This year, we realized what they were early, and started spraying.  They’ve eaten some of the plants quite a bit, but we’ve managed to harvest pounds of green beans by now, thanks to this spray.

Here are the ingredients:

General Insecticide Spray

  • An old Windex bottle, left over from our previous non-green cleaning life.
  • 1-2 tbsps of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile soap (though I’ve used unscented before)
  • 1 quart water (or as much that will fit in the bottle)

That’s it.  There’s all sorts of more complicated recipes on the web, but these not only have sufficiently dealt with our Mexican bean beetle problem, but the flea beetle problem on our eggplants as well.

Another problem we countered for the first time this year was powdery mildew. Again, since it was our first time seeing it, we didn’t realize the issue until much much later. I’m surprised we got as many cucumbers as we did since we didn’t spray the plants until very late in the season. We also lost most of our zucchini to this.

Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina/Flickr CC

Another super quick and efficient fix here though as well!

Powdery Mildew Spray

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Few drops of liquid soap

And voila! Spray once a week (I usually spray after a rain, which is more than once a week here) and it will clear up almost overnight.  Amazing.

I’m sure as we go on gardening year after year, we will encounter more and more plant issues to deal with.  But each year we figure it out eventually!

Garden in August

The tides have definitely turned, and we are into “late summer” in the garden, with the heat taking over and beginning to turn our tomatoes into ripe, red, juiciness.

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The onion stalks have mostly fallen over, resulting in the harvest of over 10lbs the other day.  There’s still a few left, but we’ll soon turn over the vacant land of the peas and onions and cucumbers to plant more greenbeans, peas, garlic and spinach.

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Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes are still producing bucketloads.  These are the best tomato plants ever and I would recommend them to anyone!

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The green beans are finally ready for harvesting but are already suffering from Mexican Bean Beatle infestation. We had this problem last year, but didn’t realize it early enough. I’ve already sprayed this year (homemade insecticidal spray – ORGANIC) but I still found eggs and larvae on the plants the other day.  Ugh…I don’t want to lose my green beans AGAIN!

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The celery is getting close to being ready to pick!  It’s at about 8 inches, and we’ll harvest when it’s a foot tall.

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The dry beans are also producing well, and the melon plants have taken over the garden. They finally JUST started producing baby melons.  I don’t know why it takes so long for them to start. At this rate, I hope we have something by the time frost starts.

July Garden Tally

 

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Sugar Snap Peas:  1.5lbs (mostly over by July)

Purple Podded Peas:  1lb, 13 1/4oz. (mostly over by July)

Cucumbers: 4lbs 1/4oz.

Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes: 15oz.

Amish Paste Tomatoes:13 5/8 oz.

Fox Cherry Tomatoes: 1oz.

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: 7lbs, 12 1/2oz.

Isis Candy : 4 1/4 oz

Garlic: 13 bulbs

Lettuce: 4 3/4oz. (mostly over by July)

Cayenne Peppers: 3oz.

Marconi Peppers: 3 oz.

Broccoli: 9 3/4 oz.

Green Beans: 3 1/8oz.

Carrots: 5/8oz

Onions: 8oz.

Tomatillos: 2oz.