It's the end of the gardening season here in Atlantic Canada and time to pick the green tomatoes before they are destroyed by frost. Today we are making Green Tomato Relish, or as it's known here, Chow Chow.
7 pounds of green tomatoes are sliced and put into a large bowl. 5 pounds of onions are sliced and added to the bowl.
This is best done on a warm day with opened windows or you will be teary eyed for the rest of the day.
A quarter cup of canning salt is mixed into the tomatoes and onions and the bowl is covered with a towel and left to set overnight. This step is necessary to remove some of the water from the tomatoes.
The next day, into a large pot, add 3 cups of vinegar, cider is best white can be used, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, and 1/4 cup of mixed pickling spice tied in a bag. Heat until the sugar is melted.
Drain the vegetables well and add them to the pot with the liquid and spices, then simmer for 1-2 hours to the desired consistency.
Fill the clean canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water, let cool for 24 hours, then label and store.
This recipe made 9 pints.
Today we will show you how we make a soothing skin cream from the calendula flowers that we grow in the garden.
Calendula is a very easy to grow annual flower. We have had a few frosts in the garden and the plants are still blooming and will continue to do so until the really cold weather sets in.
They grow in shades of bright yellow or orange and the flowers can be single or double.
And they reseed, so once you have them in your garden, they will come back every year with no effort on your part.
The petals contain a substance that helps promote healing of cuts, scrapes, chafing, minor burns and sunburn. Calendula creams have long been used to disinfect minor wounds and to treat infections of the skin.
First the flowers are cut and dried in the dehydrator until all moisture is removed.
Then the petals are pulled off.
After the coconut oil is heated the petals are added and allowed to steep gently in the oil for a few hours. Then the oil is strained and put into small jars. Some essential oil can then be added for fragrance if desired.
Along with the first week of October came the first frost of the season at the homestead. These green tomatoes will ripen indoors unless we decide to turn them into relish.
The butternut squash leaves were frost damaged so we picked the fruits which would not have continued to grow.
The carrots and beets aren't affected by an early frost so we'll leave them in the garden until a later date.
You can see the damaged leaves on this tomato plant, but the fruits survived and will be picked and added to the ripening basket.
The tomatoes by the barn were protected by reflected heat. The pumpkin leaves were damaged, but not the pumpkins themselves. They can withstand some cold weather, along with the calendula flowers that continuously come up everywhere.
The pickles were harvested just in time and will join their many brethren in the brine.
Peppers are also tender so these too, were harvested before the frost could damage them.
The butternut will keep in storage indoors for a long time, but first they need a bath. We used the water from the rain barrels as it is time to empty them anyway and move them to the basement for the winter.
The butternut will cure in the sun for a few weeks so that their skins harden and they last throughout the winter.
Finally the finished plants are thrown into the compost pile, but not before laying down a thick layer of shredded newspaper.
The chickens happily devour a few immature squash that are too small to harvest.
An old fashioned recipe that used to be very commonly canned is chili sauce.
We are fortunate to be able to use all fresh ingredients from our garden to make it this year.
We start by cutting up several green peppers and some jalapenos for spice.
Then the onions are chopped. This little chopper is a life saver when it comes to chopping vegetables.
The various heirloom tomatoes that we grew this year were cored and put into the freezer. A few days before using them, they were moved to the refrigerator to thaw out. Freezing tomatoes before canning has a couple of advantages: first, the peels slip off easily as the tomatoes thaw...and second ... most of the water comes out of them which greatly decreases the amount of time they need to boil down.
Once the tomatoes are peeled and drained, they are added to the pepper and onion mixture...along with some sugar, vinegar and spices.
When the sauce is the desired consistency, it is ladled into prepared canning jars. The tops of the jars are wiped and the lids applied, then the jars are put into the boiling water bath.
After processing, the jars are allowed to set, undisturbed, overnight. The next morning, they are rinsed, the bands removed, and labeled with the date and the contents.
The Jacob's Cattle Bean plants are finished growing and the pods are mature. It's time to pull the plants and hang them on the fence for a few days before bringing the pods indoors to finish drying.
We also grow another dry bean, a climbing variety called Coco Rose. Soon the pods will turn brown and provide us with more dried beans for soups and chili.
The potato plants are dying back and its time to dig them up. You never know what to expect when digging potatoes. Last year we had a fantastic harvest from just a few plants and we had high hopes that this year would be even better. But it was not to be. This year we averaged only 3 potatoes per plant, which was a bit surprising as we didn't have a problem with potato bugs like we did last year. The hardest thing about digging potatoes is trying not to spear them with the fork. This is what we got from 7 plants.
After digging them, they are rinsed with a stream of water from the hose. Make sure you throw the Candy's ball and not one of the potatoes. The chickens in the background are likely anticipating their next garden treat
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side-dish made of fermented vegetables, primarily Napa cabbage and daikon radish.
We wanted to use vegetables from our garden to make the kimchi, so we started with 2 pounds of chinese cabbage.
After cutting it into 1 by 2 inch pieces, it was sprinkled with 2 tablespoons of salt, mixed well, and allowed to sit at room temperature until the cabbage wilted and released its liquid. We left it overnight.
We also added 2 to 3 large cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1 grated carrot, and 2 or 3 green onions.
The next morning the cabbage was drained and the liquid reserved. It was then rinsed 3 times to remove most of the salt.
The garlic, ginger, carrot, and white parts of the onion are added to the food processor. To this, we added 1 tsp of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of Korean red pepper powder which gives the kimchi its spiciness.
The vegetables are then blended, along with the spices until a paste is formed. Some of the reserved cabbage water is added to the paste to make it easier to blend.
After adding the green onion, the paste is worked into the drained and rinsed cabbage.
The kimchi is then pressed down firmly into a glass jar or crock and covered with a cabbage leaf cut to fit over the top. If needed, more of the reserved cabbage water is added to make sure the mixture is completely covered by liquid.
The jar will be left at room temp to ferment for 3 to 7 days. Tasted frequently, it will be ready when it has developed a sour, spicy taste with a texture like that of sauerkraut.
When the kimchi is finished fermenting, the big cabbage leaf is removed from the top, and the jar is stored in the fridge where it will keep for several months, if it isn't eaten sooner!
When the onion tops start to fall over, it is time to begin the onion harvest. Choose a time when the ground is dry and rain is not expected for a few days. The onions easily come right out of the soil. Most of them will go into winter storage, but some will be used in salsa, sweet pickles, chili sauce, and other canned products. It is important to dry the onions as quickly as possible. We lay them out in the sun for a few days, here under the watchful eye of Candy. Rain was in the forecast one night, so we moved them into the garage, and out again the next morning.
The rest of our early beets were harvested around the same time as the onions. Although beets don't store as well as onions, they can easily last in the refrigerator for a month, and are also very good for pickling and canning.
Using the hose, the dirt is washed off the beets. As soon as the water dries, the tops are removed and the beets are sorted by size. We had a very good crop of beets this year, and also made a second sowing, in the back garden, that will be harvested some time next month. Beet greens are edible, especially when they're young and tender, but the hens don't care how old these are. Nothing goes to waste when you have chickens.
After the onions have dried for several days, the tops and roots are cut off. We put them on racks in the basement for further drying for a month or so, until they are placed in mesh bags for winter storage.
Today we are making some sauerkraut from our home grown cabbage. Here we have 2 heads of regular cabbage and two 2 heads of chinese cabbage for a total of 4 pounds.
First the cabbage is sliced thinly by hand, or you could use a food processor.
For each 2 pounds of cabbage you need to sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pickling salt and massage the cabbage to work it in. After about 5 minutes of this, the cabbage becomes wilted and juicy. You could use a wooden block or even the bottom of a heavy jar to press and soften the cabbage.
Then press the cabbage into a glass jar or crock, in layers, pressing each layer down with your fist or a pestle. As you push the cabbage down, the brine will rise up in the jar. Keep adding and packing the jar until it is filled to 2 or 3 inches from the top.
Save a cabbage leaf to cut to the size of the jar, and use this leaf to cover the cabbage in order to keep it submerged under the brine. You can also add a weight on top of the leaf to hold it in place.
Cover the jar and leave it at room temperature. After a day or two, fermentation will start and you will see bubbles forming in the jar. As the gas builds up, you will have to open the jar to release the pressure at least once a day. Press the cabbage down in order to release the trapped bubbles and keep it all submerged. Bubbling will subside in 2-4 weeks. The cabbage should no longer taste raw or have any sweetness. It will start to look translucent and the saltiness will be diminished. At this point you can move your sauerkraut to the fridge.
Time to pull out the hot dogs!
Composting is an easy way to add nutrient-rich humus to your garden soil. It's free, easy to make and good for the environment. Turning the compost every few weeks aerates the materials and helps speed the process.
The brown element of compost is often overlooked as autumn leaves, dry straw and wood chips may not always be available, but some type of dry material is necessary to allow oxygen to penetrate the pile and to aid in faster decomposition. Non glossy newspaper torn into strips, as well as paperboard boxes such as those containing cereal or crackers will provide plenty of dry carbon based materials.
Wood ash from the fireplace is another dry material that is added in thin layers.
Green materials, such as kitchen waste, grass clippings and plant material provide nitrogen.
The scrapings from the chicken's poop board each morning also add to the nitrogen mix, plus provide a convenient means to dispose of the droppings.
Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry.
First, a thin layer of wood ash, followed by some kitchen scraps, board scrapings, and newspaper. Then some garden waste, including weeds and dead plants.
There are no hard and fast rules in making compost. Just add your materials in layers, be sure to include plenty of brown or dry materials, and turn occasionally. You may also need to add water if rain is scarce. Your garden will thank you by providing healthy, nourishing soil to grow in.
This is the one year life cycle of our home grown garlic. It began with last summers harvest which you see here hanging in the basement.
In October we separated the largest bulbs into individual cloves and planted them back in the garden, 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart.
After spending the winter in the ground, the bulbs began to show their green leaves in early spring, and grew until August when the bottom leaves began to turn brown and die.
Then began the harvest. We ended up with 50 garlic bulbs. After a week or so of drying in the sun, the bulbs were cleaned and sorted into 3 groups... The biggest ones will be separated into individual cloves and planted in a few months to provide us with next years harvest. The imperfect ones, with a bug hole or separating cloves will be used first. And the perfect unblemished bulbs are the long keepers that will hopefully keep us supplied until the next garlic harvest.
Created 9 months, 2 weeks ago.
We left the rat race and have found a better, more relaxed lifestyle through homesteading. Please enjoy.