Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Cant talk- too busy eating

box of tricks
Last night, bright as day, a harvest moon hung over the hill. After the frantic summer, daylight hours reaching well into the night, early rises for dawn, hoeing, weeding, sowing, transplanting, watering there is something blissful about this time of the year. True the nights are drawing in but with them comes a type of reprieve. No big gardening jobs, earlier nights, longer sleeps and the pure happiness of harvesting in the garden.Literally eating all your hard work from earlier in the year. As one crop finishes another replaces it, and you never will have such appreciative friends and neighbours as you do right now.

Harvesting is one thing- storing is another. It's important to know what to do with something after you take it from the garden, or otherwise it will go to waste. Based on knowing absolutely nothing when I started harvesting and fucking it up every which way in the beginning here's what I learnt about storing veg, for what its worth.

Peas and beans have a short enough shelf life. Do not(on pain of death) separate them from their pods until you are ready to cook them. When you bring them in just give them a rinse under a cold tap, shake or spin off the excess (here's where a salad spinner is really useful) put them in a bag or an airtight box (plastic take away boxes are really handy) and keep them in the fridge. If they have little or no damage you will get two weeks out of them. Without the rinse of water under the tap they soften fast and they wont store properly without being in the fridge(both of these were tested extensively out of sheer lazyness).

Spuds store well in a hessian sack in a cool dark room. I'm currently experimenting with first Earlie's that have been in for at least a month, and so far so good. If you wash the spuds dry them well and keep them in the fridge in the veg drawer. They will keep for weeks in there. If you want to hold on to the flavour an old method was to keep them dirty in a bucket of soil in a cool dark place. Trouble is most of our houses are too warm for this. Still you could try it as a short term (3 days) strategy.

Parsnips and carrots go off fast, especially carrots which soften so fast in the fridge it kind of frightens me when I consider how long a packet of bought carrots can last. I'm experimenting with keeping them dirty at room temperature covered by damp kitchen towel, seems to last a week so far with no problems.

Salad leaves that are washed and spun out well in the salad spinner can be put in sealed boxes or bags and into the fridge where you should get 7-10 days out of them without deterioration of the leaves or loss of flavour. Beware you must wash them well! If slugs survive the washing process they will be there to meet you when you open the lid a week later dead or alive. A few salt and water rinses for salad leaves should do the trick.

Cucumbers keep well in the fridge, just handle them gently to keep them from rotting at bruise points.

Do not put tomatoes in the fridge! Put them in the fruit bowl where they will keep their sweet flavour for a least a few days.

Damaged fruit and veg automatically =poor storage.

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