Tag Archives: tomatoes

Garden Preservation

9 Sep

Labor Day has passed and the gardens are producing at their peak.  I’m sure that you have been enjoying cucumbers, peppers, beans, herbs, tomatoes and egg plants from your urban farmscape.  What a healthy time of year!  Food prices are at their lowest at the market.  It is so easy to buy bushels of fresh seasonal veggies and fruits.  I know that you aren’t thinking about winter, but if you want to enjoy some of these summer pleasures this winter, you should think about food preservation now.

 The three main ways to preserve food are by drying, freezing and canning.  Herbs are easiest in that you can just dry them in a dry shady location and then seal in a jar.  Freezing works best for some fruits and veggies, but canning may be the best method for longer preservation.  For high acid foods, like tomatoes and pickles, you would use a Boiling-Water Canner.  For low acid foods you would need to use a Steam-Pressure Canner. 

 I learned how to can tomatoes by watching my mom.  As the youngest in a family of three, and living in the country, I was usually a helper in the kitchen.  I remember my mom filling the stainless steel sink with fresh picked tomatoes and pouring boiling water over them.  The steam would rise above the bright red orbs and mom would carefully pluck them from the water and while using her paring knife she would remove the core and peel off the skin, quarter the tomato, then drop the pieces into a glass quart jar.  Once full, she would place the long handle of a wooden spoon into the jar of flesh and seeds, moving it around the edges to release the tiny bubbles locked in the bottom of the jar.  She would wipe the rim of the jar and then it was time for my job.  I would carefully measure salt into the worn metal measuring spoon and pour it on top of the tomatoes, watching the crystal substance disappear into the liquid.  Mom would remove the gold lids from a shallow pan of boiling water and after placing them on top of the jar she would  tighten them with a gold metal band.  After placing them into the metal rack lining the inside of the big blue pot, she would lower them into the boiling water and set the timer by pushing in and turning the small black knob that was next to the clock on the stove.  After processing, my mother would lift them out of the boiling pot and place them on a wooden cutting board.  We would begin to hear the lids “pop” as the suction forced them inward to seal.  Mom would say “there goes another one!”  When cooled, we would stock the jars in the cupboard in the basement.  The shelves would be filled with not only tomatoes, but pickles, applesauce, peaches and pears.

If you have never canned before, I would recommend starting with tomatoes.  It is really simple to do.  And in January when the snow is flying, the best meal to make is from your tomatoes.  Those along with using some fresh dried herbs will bring you back to this summer as you harvested and preserved the veggies from your garden, or maybe your visit to the farmers market.  It’s fun when you turn it into a family event, or invite some friends over.   Once you learn the process, you may be on the way to creating your own family secret recipes that you share at the holidays or sell at the market!

To learn more about canning, you just need a book.  I recommend any of these.  Click on them to go right to Amazon.

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying and Pickling Fruits and Vegetables

Canning and Preserving For Dummies

My Urban Market Salsa

19 Aug


I love the fresh summer veggies right now.  Take this salsa recipe for starters.  It has EVERYTHING  you need for a meal.  I’m warning you, when you make it, you will probably think it’s an appetizer, but once you start to eat it, it will turn into a meal because it tastes so good and it is so full of fresh garden flavors.  It also provides something from every food group! You probably aren’t able to grow everything for My Urban Market Salsa so you will have to pick up the remaining ingredients at your local market, which is why I don’t call it My Urban Farmscape Salsa. I can’t grow everything, but I can grow most of it, and hopefully you do too. 

1 cup cooked, cooled and rinsed black beans

1 cup sweet corn, cooked, cooled, and cut off the cob

1 cup diced tomato

½ cup diced sweet red pepper

¼ cup seeded and diced jalapeno pepper

½ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup diced onion

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

 Mix above ingredients and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Serve the following day with tortilla chips.  My favorite are the blue corn tortilla chips.  Or for lunch, serve in a homemade flour tortilla.    Bon Appetit !

Living Local

29 Jul

Is the local food movement strong in your part of the world?  Here in Michigan it has been for quite a few years, maybe ten or more.  Michiganders have been attempting the 100 mile diet (coffee lovers, avoid this one), joining CSA’s, and shopping at farmers markets.  Local chefs are successfully committing to local farmers and creating their menus to reflect gourmet dishes of what is in season.  I have wondered to myself, when can the rules be broken?  Is it okay to purchase non-locally produced food during this time of year when our seasonal produce is rising to peak harvest?  Can I only eat fresh tomatoes in July and August?  What about purchasing produce grown in Michigan at the local grocery store?  Is that okay?  Even if it was grown by a Michigan farmer living over 100 miles from me?  My answer is; do the best that you can do to support your local farmers, grow what you can grow in your Urban Farmscape, share with others, and learn to eat seasonally.  Eating seasonally is hard!  As you may know by now, I don’t like plants in the brassicaceae family.  So this fall, when cabbage, kale, and broccoli are in their season, I will choose to eat something different.  So I don’t know how I can stick to all the rules, I just try to do the best I can.  Living in Michigan is a little easier when it comes to food.  We are rich in our agricultural and horticultural crops and our farmer families have been growing here for generations.  Here are a few Michigan food stats from the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the Michigan Dairy News Bureau, and the American Egg Board.  You might be surprised.    Where did your dinner come from?


Michigan ranks third in the nation

· Ranks second in acreage

· 2.5 million pounds

· Economic impact $16.5 million


Michigan leads the nation growing over one-third of all blueberries in the U.S.

· 600 family farms

· 99 million pounds-49 fresh and the other 50 for processing

· Economic impact $101.8 million


Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop

· 950 family farms on 38,500 acres

· 1.1 billion pounds produced

· Economic impact $800 million

· This year expecting 95% crop loss


Michigan ranks fourth in the nation

· 78,000 tons for juice and wine

· 14,600 acres in production with 2000 devoted to wine grapes

· Economic impact $27.5 million


Michigan ranks 8th in milk production

· 1,900 Grade A family farms

· 375,000 dairy cows, 2100 herds

· Producing 8.5 billion pounds of milk

· Economic impact $14.7 billion


Michigan ranks 7th in the nation

· Over 10,000 laying hens laying 250 million eggs

· As of 2012, cage free production is 5.7% of the total U.S. flock size, of this 2.9% is organic


Huron County is one of the top dry bean producing counties in the country.

· 2500 growers

· 150,000 tons produced

· Over 20 types of beans


Michigan ranks 3rd in the country

· 720 growers and producers

· In 2008 produced the second-most valuable crop of annual bedding & garden plants in the nation leading the nation in value of sales of: impatiens, begonia hanging baskets, geraniums, New Guinea impatiens, petunias, and potted veggies worth $187 million in sales.


Michigan ranks 3rd in the nation

· 42,000 acres in production

· 3 million trees sold per year

· For each tree harvested 3 are planted

· Economic impact $41 million


Michigan ranks NUMBER ONE growing 70-75 percent of the tart cherries in the U.S. and 20% of the sweet cherries

· 28,600 tons of sweets

· 242 million pounds of tarts

· Economic impact $53.8 million

· This year expecting 95% crop loss


Cucumbers are grown throughout the state, primarily in the Southwest

· 96.8 million pound fresh

· Farmers grow pickling cucumbers in the thumb region

· Economic impact $18.5 million


Michigan ranks second in the nation

· 59.4 million pounds for fresh and processed markets

· Economic impact $12.6 million


Grown for fresh and processing

· 132,600 tons produced

· 60 million pounds for the fresh market

· Economic impact $35.5 million


Michigan’s leading produce commodity and is the nation’s leading producer for potato chip processing

· 735,000 tons harvested

· Economic impact $156 million

Thank you Michigan Farmers!!!

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