Happy Labor Day weekend. We are wrapping up the summer and getting ready for fall and it seems like we have escaped the tremendous heat that the rest of the nation suffered under this year. That means that we have been able to enjoy the outdoors more and most of our gardens have thrived! Enjoy this wonderful holiday weekend and prepare to enjoy the slow slide into fall. I know we will!
This week we featured...
This year has been a record year for tomatoes. If you are having a record year for tomatoes, you might be thinking about preserving some for the year ahead. One way of doing that is to can them. We found some great canning instructions at the OSU Extension website. Let’s walk you through the steps, briefly, on how to can, though you can find the complete instructions on the website.
To start we picked tomatoes that were ripe or just getting ripe. You do not want to can over ripe fruit. If it has started to spoil it could taint the rest of the jar. We also picked a lot of different varieties for our canning. This will add different flavors and textures to our soups, salsas and stews. If you are making a sauce or ketchup you may want to stick with one variety.
There are 2 methods for canning a ‘hot pack’ method and a ‘raw’ or ‘cold pack’ method. We are doing the raw/cold pack method. Start by washing and sterilizing the jars, rims and lids. Boiling water is the best way of doing this. Make sure you check the jars for chips (don’t use those) and the rims for rust (don’t use those either). Next, fill your canner with water and start heating it to a boil. Fill another pot with boiling water for blanching your raw fruit. You will also need an ice bath for the fruit after it is blanched.
Now place the tomatoes in the hot blanching water for about a minute until the skins start to crack. Then remove them and place them in the ice bath. You can now remove the skins and cut out the stem cores. Take your sanitized jars and stuff the blanched, skin-less tomatoes in until it is filled to the neck of the jar. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the jar (to help preserve the fruit) and ¼ teaspoon of salt (this is for flavor). Then fill the rest of the jar with some of the blanch water to fill the jar to about ½ inch from the top of the jar. Run a butter knife or spatula around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Put the sanitized lids on the top of the jar and secure with the rims/rings till they are hand tightened.
Then you will place them in the canner full of water. Once they are lowered into the canning bath they should have about an inch of water covering the tops. Let them boil in the bath for 45 minutes. Once out of the bath, let them cool. You will hear the lids popping. This is a sign that they are sealing.
Once cool, mark the lid with the date and store in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Now you can go to your pantry when you are working on your favorite recipe and enjoy the taste of summer long after the sunny days are gone!
If you have any questions about food preservation you can check out the OSU Extension website or you can call the Food Safety and Preservation Hotline at 1-800-354-7319.
If you have never been to Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) in August, you are missing out on a great flower display. Acres and acres of eye-pleasing blooms stretch out in front of you and the names of some will make you chuckle. From ‘Ahoy Matey’ to ‘Zippity do Da’ there number of names is incredible. Who comes up with these monikers? Heather joined us in the fields to fill us in on the process. It all comes down to the breeder, in this case the Gitts family. They start with 15,000 seedlings a year and then over the course of 5 years they narrow it down to 10 new introductions. Coming up with 10 new names every year can be quite challenging. This year she showed us a couple of new introductions from their fields. The first one was a large gold/yellow/orange flower they are calling ‘Oh Honey’. The next one was a medium sized peachy/pink flower called ‘Gabby’s Wish’ which is named after Heather’s daughter because she loved the color. The next bloom was a pink striped one that she didn’t want to tell us the name. They weren’t totally happy with the name that had been chosen and so it was going to change. The next was a cream and pink that was named ‘N-Force’ Nick, her dad, liked this one and so he became the N in N-Force. The light cream/pinky bloom that was next was called ‘Daddy’s Girl’. The soft pink looks like a Daddy’s girl! The final bloom that she shared with us was one named for their hometown, ‘Canby Crazy’. This one was another huge one that had a combination of orange, yellow and a touch of cream. We also talked about all the varieties that are named for the Gitts family too. She shared these new blooms in their brand new display garden. This garden has huge walkways and combination plantings interspersed with an alphabetical planting of most of the varieties they grow at Swan Island.
This weekend is your chance to see some of these favorites for yourself during this last weekend of their annual dahlia festival, which runs through Monday, Labor Day. Check out the 40 acres of blooms and the cut flower display. There is also food, music, demonstrations and lots of vendors to see. It is a must see event!
Filberts Farm Recipe
There is a new restaurant in Aurora and it is called Filberts Farmhouse Kitchen (503-908-3264). This business is the brainchild of a couple local filbert/hazelnut growers. The focus is on American comfort food and even though the recipes have a modern twist on them, the main house was built in 1865. That house is the anchor for a new structure which is the main restaurant.
We were joined by Manager Aaron Wolfe and Chef Steve Head. While Aaron filled us in on the history of the building, chef Steve went to work on 2 recipes he shared with us. Chef was very proud to tell us that they use the freshest local ingredients when they can find them in season.
The first was a hazelnut pesto. That recipe included fresh basil, olive oil, grated parmigiana cheese, hazelnuts, garlic, salt and pepper. This was a traditional pesto with the hazelnuts replacing the pine nuts that most people use. All these were combined in a food processor and blended.
The second recipe was a parsnip puree. The parsnips (3 large), which were from Canby, were sliced and placed in a large pot with heavy cream, with a half cup of brown sugar, a bayleaf, 3 cloves of garlic (sliced), a dash of thyme and some salt and pepper. This was placed on a stove and left to simmer for about 45 minutes. After that is was also blended in a food processor until smooth.
If you would like to try out this great new local restaurant, give the a call and check out their website. They also have event areas for larger gatherings.
We like to feature garden products and services on the show that are new and unique, and every once in a while we find something that qualifies for both. I’m talking about the Eldergrow system. We met with Debbie at the Ackerly at Sherwood, an adult senior living community, to talk about this great product that is keeping people gardening into their senior years. This product is a portable raised gardening bed that allows residents, no matter what their mobility issues, to garden without strain. Our helpers for this story, Bruce and Shirley, were both working comfortably even though he was in his walker and she was standing.
This product goes hand in hand with the Eldergrow set of programs. Debbie is a facilitator in this therapeutic horticultural wellness program. She comes into the Ackerly and other facilities like it, a couple times a month and introduces programs and directs residents in gardening activities. Some of those activities include flower growing and pressing, culinary herbs and basic horticultural therapy. It is amazing the amount of programs they offer.
If you would like to learn more about this great product/service for seniors, check out their website.
TOW – Pear Ripening
Bringing fruit into the backyard garden is something we are all trying to do and with the abundance of small and dwarf varieties it is easier than ever. But with some fruit, like pears, it is hard to know when to pick the fruit. This week we gave you a few tips on ripening pears that we picked up from a flyer we got from the OSU Extension Service. Look for a slight tenderness at the top of the pear where the stem is located. If there is a little ‘give’ pick the pear and then store it in your refrigerator (the time in the refrigerator depends on the variety of pear). Pears tend to ripen from the inside out and this will help even out the overall ripening of the fruit. If you follow a few simple rules you can have a sweet luscious pear that won’t be mealy or gritty!