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November 2008

Preserving Peppers



As you can tell from this wagonload, we have been busily harvesting the last of the bell peppers before a hard frost hits.  Since it's sometimes hard to find the time and recipes to eat everything while it's fresh, we thought we’d share some preservation tips.

The great news is – Peppers (including chili peppers) are one of the easiest vegetables to freeze.  No blanching is necessary. To freeze peppers you can simply wash; cut out stems; remove seeds and white insides; cut into halves, slices, rings, or dice; and toss in a freezer bag and save for a winter meal.  To fit more into a container you can blanch peppers (submerge in boiling water then quickly cool and drain) for 2-3 minutes. 

You can also pickle peppers.  

Pickled Hot or Bell Peppers  from Putting Food By,  by Janet Greene

[this recipe is for 4 quarts of  peppers, but it seems easy enough to adjust to the amount you have]

4 quarts peppers
4 cups vinegar
4 cups water
4 tsp salt
Olive Oil (optional) 

Wash, core, remove seeds and slice the peppers. You can leave small chili peppers whole, but make two small slits in any whole peppers.

Mix vinegar and water; heat to 150-160 F, about the simmering point. [Also – get creative and add your favorite spices to the vinegar/water mixture]. Since it is rather volatile, vinegar should not boil a long time. Pack peppers rather tightly into jars. Pour the hot vinegar and water mixture over the peppers to ½ inch of jar rim. If oil is desired, add vinegar to ¾ inch of jar top. Add olive oil to come ½ inch from top.  The peppers will be coated with oil when they pass through the oil layer as you use them.  Add salt to taste, seal, and process 15 minutes in a simmering Hot-Water Bath.

3 Recipes: eggplant/peppers, green tomatoes, arugula/potatoes

Here's a few recipes that might help if you have some veggies lingering in your fridge from previous shares. 

EGGPLANT ANTIPASTO, from Cooking with Herbs & Spices, by Craig Claiborne

Deborah Starobin-Armstrong prepared this for us a few years ago.  I can't remember if I've posted it already, but if I have, it's worth repeating.

Yield: about one quart

  • 3 cups peeled and cubed eggplant
  • 1/3 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup stuffed green olives
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put the eggplant, green pepper, onion, mushrooms, garlic and oil in a skillet.  Cover and cook gently ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Simmer, covered, until the eggplant is tender, about 30 minutes.
Put in a dish, cover and chill in the fridge overnight to blend the flavors.  Serve on lettuce leaves.


Kay Marlin sent us her version, below, to add to Gail's earlier suggestions for green tomatoes.

This is how I did my last batch of fried green tomatoes.
For the breadcrumbs: use good Italian bread, or a stale baguette that hasn't gone hard as a rock.  Crumble the bread (I use a little food processor).  Add a bit of salt, crumbled dry oregano and thyme, black pepper, parmesan cheese, and garlic (if you want it).
Heat a pan with non-stick spray and lots of good olive oil. Slice the tomatoes about a quarter of an inch thick, maybe a little bit more but not too thick.
To really make the bread crumbs stick, you can dip each slice first in a beaten egg. Coat each slice well, both sides, with the bread crumb mixture, and add just enough slices to fill the bottom of the pan, don't overlap them. Keep the heat high and add oil as needed. The slices will stick, there's no way that my cooking ever turns out the way it does on TV cooking shows. But I just scrape up those overcooked crumbs and eat 'em.
I don't know how long to fry each side, I do it by looks, but I think if you turn the slice and it hasn't gotten browned and a bit crunchy, then you let the second side stay longer.
Some people would tell you to put the slices on a paper towel before serving, I say eat the oil, it's delicious. But you want something to soak it up, serve your tomatoes with a nice rice on the side, or a piece of chicken if you eat meat.

serves 4, yield 7 cups
from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers
Thanks to Carole Grunberg for passing this recipe to us and including her suggestions in parentheses.

  • 2 c. chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves (i use 4)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 c. diced potatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 c. veggie broth
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 14 oz can red beans (i use liquid in soup, too)
  • 1/2 c. white wine (or 2 T lemon juice) - the wine makes this better!
  • 4 c. chopped arugula
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
  • grated parmiggiano or pecorino to top

In large pot (cast iron works fine), saute onions + garlic in oil for 4 min over med-low heat. Add potatoes, rosemary, broth, salt. Cover & bring to boil. When it boils, add beans & wine, reduce heat, cover & simmer about 10 min or until potatoes are tender. As potatoes cook, rinse, drain, chop arugula. When potatoes are tender, add basil, salt & pepper to taste, remove rosemary sprig (ok if some leaves remain in soup). Put handful of arugula in bottom of soup bowl, ladel soup over & top with grated cheese. invite your friends over!

Continue curing your sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be a little tricky to store, so I wanted to pass along a few helpful hints. 
First, we cured your sweet potatoes for about 6 days.  This means that after we washed them, we held them in a room at 85 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity in order to make the flesh sweeter and toughen up any nicks in their skins so they don't mold.  I often see it recommended that you cure them for as long as 10 days, but we did not have the space or time to cure all of your sweet potatoes for that long and still get them into your share before the season ended.  So if you have a warm spot in your house to keep them for a few days, that could further improve their flavor. 

I tend to use all of my sweet potatoes by Thanksgiving, so once their cured, I just leave them out in the kitchen and they keep well enough for that short time.  Cook your small sweet potatoes first, since they will lose moisture more quickly if the humidity is low.  Also cook the ones with any dark spots that might be an indication of some kind of decay.   The large ones can store all winter under the right conditions, as long as you check on them once in a while.  Once cured, store them in a way that most closely mimics the potatoes being in the ground.  The literature recommends 55 degrees Fahrenheit, 85% humidity.  So the refrigerator is too cold, but someplace cool, like a basement, is best.  I've seen some people recommend wrapping them in newspaper to prevent them from drying out, or even burying them in a box of sand. 

In case you are stuck in a habit of always baking your sweet potatoes, here are a few ideas.  CBF staffer, Rob Schnabel, highly recommends grilling thick slices of lightly oiled and salted sweet potato.  And below I've included a recipe I found in my files from 2002, but I can no longer identify the shareholder who gave it to me.  If you're still out there--thanks!  It's still a great recipe.  Quick and delicious.


In a large frying pan, add five or six slices of ginger to a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cook gently for a few minutes.
Add thickly sliced sweet potatoes on top, with salt and pepper (lemon-pepper is also good) and a tablespoon of curry powder.  Cover and cook slowly until done (about 20 minutes). 
A dollop of Marsala wine is also a good addition. 

Green Tomatoes?

Why green tomatoes? When the first frost is eminent and the days are getting shorter, it's time to save the remaining fruits of summer and prepare the field for the winter. So this week we're harvesting every last sizeable tomato, whether they have ripened or not. But what do you do with green tomatoes? I mean, besides fry them of course.

Ok, you could try to ripen them. Green tomatoes do ripen off the vine. A dim, fairly dry place for storage is best. Placing them on top of newspapers or paper bags will keep them dry; moisture will encourage rot. Never place tomatoes in the refrigerator for storage, especially unripe ones. Check on them every so often to make sure none have gone bad. It could take 2 - 3 weeks before they all ripen. Ripe tomatoes, like apples or bananas give off ethylene, a gas that speeds up ripening. I haven't read this but I guess putting an actual apple or banana might speed up the process, kind of like you do with a paper bag of avocados on top of the fridge.

But many people have found great and tasty uses for green tomatoes. To fry mine, I just mix an egg with salt and pepper in one bowl, flour and corn meal in another. I do the triple dip (first in the dry ingredients, then in the egg, then again in the flour mix) and fry in the cast iron skillet with a health amount of oil. Experiment with different flavors to see what you like best. Add different herbs to the flour/ corn meal mix, or cayenne powder. When they are in season, I sautee peaches in the left over oil with a little garlic and onion to make a kind of hot salsa to go on top of the fried tomatoes.

When you have access to tons of green tomatoes, pickling is also an option.,1-00,pickled_green_tomatoes,FF.html

In a quick on-line search I found this recipe for green tomato pie

I also saw a few recipes for tomato soup. Many called for ham or bacon which, as a vegetarian, I would just skip. This one sounded the best. Let me know if you try it, or if you have a better one.

ok-- have fun!


Join us planting garlic Monday October 13th

One big job that still remains this season is planting garlic, and we need your help.  We’re extending a special invitation for Columbus Day--Monday October 13th.  We plant 2 garlic cloves for each head that we hope to give out in shares next year, so we have over 10,000 cloves to plant!  It’s a great chance to get your hands dirty, to enjoy the scenery and the fall weather, and learn how to grow some garlic for yourself when you get home. 

If it happens to rain, we’ll have other jobs to do under cover so come anyway.  Bring a bottle of water and a bag lunch.  We’ll be working from 8am to 4pm, and you can join us for any window of time during the day.  We’ll meet in the morning at the washing station.  If you come after 9am and you don’t see anyone around, call 301-537-3038 to find us.  We’d love to know if you’re planning to join us, so email clagettfarm[at] to RSVP, or call the same number mentioned above. 
See you then!
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clagett Farm, 11904 Old Marlboro Pike, Upper Marlboro MD 20772

Garlic_planting_carrie_and_megan_2 Clagett_farm_2006_063 Clagett_farm_2006_067

Thanks for the great festival!

In spite of the mixed weather, we had a fun and productive festival.  The Clagett Farm string band sat around the barn to play bluegrass, some people helped us clean garlic, kids went on a few wet hayrides, and there was lots of wonderful food.  I don't know if anyone got a picture of the cake Yvette Dietrich brought, but it was an amazing depiction of a farm in relief with a 5" high barn.

And we made money!  Thanks so much to all of you who donated great stuff to our silent auction, and to Susan Sanders and Ray Steiner for making some great preserves and hot sauce to sell.  We made a total of $1002.  And so far we've made $1110 from the raffle.  Fantastic!  Let's do it again next year!

By the way, raffle tickets are still for sale.  $10 each: make checks payable to Capital Area Food Bank, and mail to 11904 Old Marlboro Pike, Upper Marlboro MD 20772 or bring your cash to the pick-up.  We'll choose the winner on November 8, 2009.