On today’s show I discuss something that has been on my mind awhile now, that is Private Collective Food Production. Essentially a privately organized barter/trade/supply network for all things food. …
Root cellars used to be on most homesteads both here in the USA and also across the pond. If you are growing or making food that can benefit from dark, cold conditions having a cellar can be the most useful square footage you have. …
On today’s show I discuss ideas for cooking with fresh spring peas. Unlike canned or frozen peas, which have their place, fresh spring peas are truly luxurious. …
We are now harvesting our summer crops!
Very exciting as the summer produces amazing ingredients for the home cook, especially the seasonal cook. Our garden is producing a large number of vegetables including the following:
- Straight neck yellow squash (heirloom)
- Crookneck yellow squash (hybrid volunteer from last year)
- Heirloom cucumbers
- Heirloom bush beans (green beans)
- Herbs, rosemary, basil, sage (all heirlooms)
- Baseball zucchini (heirloom)
- Datil Peppers (seeds available in the store)
Very soon the potato harvest will commence, we have at least 500 lbs of potatoes. These are all heirlooms too and 3 different varieties.
As a prepper or homesteader, having a garden and perennial fruit producing trees are very important to have. Especially since the start up costs are very low, apple trees, cherry trees, peach trees, blueberry bushes etc. can be purchased for $10-$20 for good sized specimens.
WIth summer harvest in full swing I use recipes that help use up the harvest while providing the family with wonderful meals. Ratatouille is a key recipe for summer to use up things like zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomatoes and other ingredients. I also use ratatouille for an appetizer in my ratatouille bruschetta recipe which is a great dish for parties.
This year we have three yellow squash plants from last year that have sprung up in funny places like our compost pile, next to my cherry tree and in a pile of straw. Yesterday I harvested several squash from them…they yellow squash pictured above came from the volunteers. Also, the new heirloom “baseball” zucchini are growing well and are delicious . You can find the heirlooms I use at Heirloom solutions a great website operated by nice people in Thompson Ill. I will be doing demos at their country store on June 30th 20120
So far, the heirloom crops are very vigorous and producing a nice crop. I like using heirlooms because you’re keeping a part of history alive and these are saved because of high germination rates and for taste. But the best thing is the seeds can be saved adn used the next year without fear of having funny looking and tasting vegetables that are normally produced by second season seeds from hybrids.
In my opinion, hybrids have NO PLACE in a prepper or homesteaders garden. Having to re-purchase seeds each year as necessary with hybrids is a waste of money as far as I’m concerned.
With all the vegetables you will be harvesting, you will need to be thinking creatively about cooking seasonal vegetables. I recently penned an article Tips For Making Vegetable Recipes New and Exciting which goes into detail about the methods I use to create new recipes using seasonal produce, check it out it might help you come up with new ideas.
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Chef Keith Snow
Seasonal Cooking Made Easy!
As a proponent of seasonal cooking and local foods I often preach about eating vegetables and fruits, and even things like seafood, while in season. Depending on the vegetable the season could be weeks or months.
If you prepare the seasonal vegetable the same way, getting bored with it is likely. A great example of this is summer squash like zucchini and yellow squash. These are prolific producers and can give you a harvest for months on end. It’s always a challenge to find new ways to prepare it for those in the family that are not huge fans of squash.
So What Do I Do?
Lets start by thinking about texture. Be sure to pick these vegetables at no bigger then 6-7 inches, any bigger and they develop a big spongy seed pod which is honestly not very appetizing. When small, the flesh is much firmer.
Next try to imagine how the application of different types of heat will produce different textures. For example,grilling vegetables produces some char and soft pliable vegetables. Sautéing can produce some caramelization with a soft interior. Deep frying produces a nice crisp exterior and meaty interior.
Each of these texture styles can manifest itself differently in the mouth and make the eating experience very different. So the same vegetable can produce a different meal if the texture is considered before you start.
Another way to add variety to the same vegetable is to think about. If you cook squash using the Italian flavors of oregano, garlic and tomato with some Parmesan cheese you have an Italian style vegetable dish.
If you use cumin, coriander, ginger, green onion and coconut milk you have an Indian dish. If you use chili peppers, cilantro and lime you have a Latin or Mexican style dish. IF you use ginger, soy sauce and hoisin you have a chinese preparation.
You can see that with a little forethought as it relates to texture and Ethnicity you can make many different interpretations for the same or similar vegetables. I use these techniques all the time when creating new recipes for the same vegetables each year.
Another technique to consider is changing the meal for which the vegetable is to be eaten . so instead of ALWAYS cooking zucchini as a dinner side dish how about breakfast? What could we use it for in the morning? How about an omelet?
What about a dessert? Maybe we make zucchini walnut bread. If it’s lunch time how about shredding the zucchini finely then tossing it in a salad to add more vegetation?
The ways to use vegetables are endless…but it does take thought. These ideas are effective and the way I think when creating recipes.
Try it…it works!!
Back in May I started this year’s batch of Datil peppers from seed. Although germination requires much patience, can take 3 weeks or more…each seeds germinated. The last two years I threw out the seed pots because I thought the seeds were bad. This year I had given up on them but they all came up.
They require moist warm soil to germinate. I use an old yogurt maker we have and cardboard egg crates to place soil and the seeds. I plus it in and keep it moist using a spray bottle. This is critical because if you try to pour water on them the force of the water can disturb the seeds, especially when using a peat moss-based soil as it is very airy.
The good thing about Dail peppers is that unlike smaller pepper plants like habenero or jalepeno these peppers produce strong tree-like stalks that support a big pepper plant that produces huge yields. I like to use these to make a pepper mash which is a mixture or stemmed peppers, salt and vinegar. I place the peppers in the blender with salt and vinegar and blend it up, this mixture can keep years due to the inhospitable environment salt and vinegar create. No bacteria wants to call this place home.
The cool thing for me about having Datil peppers on hand is I get to play around with salsa and hot sauce formulations. I have a brand called Thoughtful Harvest and I really enjoy product formulation. Honestly, I am quite bored with standard hot peppers like jalepeno, habenero, serrano and cayenne. They have become so mainstream. I like the Datil pepper because it has a nifty store behind it and it has remained a back-yard pepper until just a year or two ago when some folks began bottling it.
Aside from a few sub-standard product (sorry-just being honest) that use the Datil pepper it really only lives in the St.Augustine FLA area. Having been brought t the new world by Spanish explorers the origin is still in question but we do know it came through the tropics, Dominican Republic I think, and wound up in St. Augustine in 1565.
It has uses for many Spanish dishes but also makes a great salsa pepper which is what I love it for. Another great use is to make a pot of black beans using a whole Datil pepper. You will get a touch of heat, but a ton of flavor.
Speaking of flavor, the Datil pepper is in my mind the KING of hot peppers as it relates to flavor. Don’t get me wrong, it’s as hot as the Habenero, but has more flavor. Very fruity and “limy” almost floral like a fancy French women’s perfume.
So far my idea is to make a line of salsas that represent countries like Spain, Mexico, Italy etc. For instance, my Spanish style salsa has green olives and high-quality extra virgin olive oil in it. It is rather luxurious and has tons of meaty green olives from California. My Italian has capers, basil, garlic and the same great olive oil. I cannot give up too many trade secrets so I will leave it at that.
II hope you’ll consider bringing this nifty hot pepper to your garden and hopefully to try one of our salsas that use it in late summer 2010.
This article if for people who have purchased Datil Pepper seeds from our store. To those with a green thumb, these peppers are very fun to raise from seed, you can buy some here.
To ensure your success with these plants I have assembled the following information about how to germinate the seeds and step the plants up from seedlings to producing plants.Information on harvesting Datil Peppers is also below.
Datil peppers if handled correctly from seedlings can become very, very vigorous producers of peppers. A single plant can yield hundreds of full-grown peppers and thousands of seeds for future plantings.
First things first…germination:
In order to germinate the seeds they must be placed in a clean, disease free potting soil. Do not start out with soil from your garden or yard. Buy an organic or conventional potting mix such as Miracle Grow or similar. While garden soil or dirt from your yard it too compact and heavy, other mixes such as straight peat moss, is too light and airy and will not provide the structure the seedlings need to start growing upright.
Take clean new soil and place in planting pots such as peat pots or even empty cardboard egg crates. Once filled, use a pencil and make a hole about 1/4 deep and place a single seed. Sometimes the seeds are stuck together and two or more must be placed in one hole, this is ok. Once the seeds are in the holes carefully cover up the seeds and press down slightly.
Next water the seeds with a fine mist, do not use a watering can as the force of the water will make the seeds move or rise to the surface. I like spray bottles the are bought empty at home improvement stores and filled with clean water. Spray the seeds until they are very moist. Next place the seedlings in a warm place, try to shoot for 70-75 degrees of steady temperature. Keeps seeds in ambient light, no direct sun. A sunny room is ok, but not a beam of light as this will dry the seeds too quickly. If this steady temperature cannot be achieved in your house I suggest using a heating pad on its lowest setting or even a yogurt maker.
Each day lightly spray the seeds to keep them moist. In 10-20 days (yes, this is a long time) the seeds will emerge. Once they emerge keep them in a window sill or sunny location. Once they are standing upright switch from the water spray to a liquid feed spray. See this link to learn about Miracle Grow organic plant food, it works really well.
As the seedlings grow you need to step up the container size being very carful not to break or damage them. I use peat moss plugs that allow me to take the whole seedling and the dirt its growing in and re-pot the whole thing. Do not try to pull seedling’s roots out of their soil, they will die.
As the plants grow be careful to keep them moist and in a sunny location. Use the liquid feed per package instructions as far as the correct mixture of concentrate to water ratio. As the peppers become strong enough to survive the force of a watering can you can mix the plant food in the watering can and stop using the spray bottle.
Datil peppers like hot morning sun but prefer to be in the shade or filtered sun by about 2 pm…do not let them roast in hot afternoon sun. Particularly west facing sun or they will wilt and die. I keep my peppers on the south side of the house, they get full morning sun but then are shaded by about 2 or so. They need about 6 hours of sun per day.
One thing to watch for is container size. They can quickly become root bound which will stunt their growth. You will ned to replant them 3-4 times to get them into the final container size which should be a 15 gallon container. They grow very well in containers. I do not have experience with planting them directly in a garden. I like the containers because they can be easily moved to adjust them to the amount of sun they need.
When the peppers emerge they will be an olive green color, they will become a lime green as time goes by. Look for a dark purple strip to appear as a signal that the pepper is getting ready to be picked. You can pick Datils green with the purple strip or wait until they become yellow and finally a glowing orange. Flavor only improves as they get more color. However, picking peppers frequently encourages the plant to continue producing. If you leave all the peppers on the plant too much energy is expended supporting the existing peppers on the plant and it will slow or stop flowering which creates new peppers. I like to pick peppers each week to encourage the plant to make more. During harvesting I either freeze them, cook with them or make the pepper “mash” once a week or so as a way to preserve the harvest.
As fall approaches, they will need more sun as the sunlight becomes weaker. If in containers you can move them to a west facing location. They will keep producing peppers well into the fall if kept in a sunny location. Once it starts to get in the 40’s at night bring the container inside, if you have a very sunny window they will keep growing or a grow light can be used to extend the harvest. Truthfully, if you do the above steps you will have so many peppers that letting the plant die off might be the best plan.
Refer to the website for a video on making a pepper “mash” this method will allow you to have Datil peppers all year long ready for your salsa or other recipes. The peppers freeze well too.
Best of luck growing what I think is the best tasting and most satisfying pepper you can grow or eat, The Datil Pepper.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me.
Many Americans want to take part in the harvest revolution and eat foods that were grown at home to ensure freshness, taste and cost. But what if you live in an apartment or high rise? Are you out of luck? Actually no. Many people that live in urban America are taking part in the local food craze by growing food in containers. Before you run out to the nursery and grab your planting pots and dirt you must check with your local officials. You see some locales have strict rules that regulate who and who cannot grow food when living in urban areas.
Let’s assume you live in an apartment and have a small balcony or roof top. While you may think having a container garden would be harmless consider the following. When you add soil and water to a large container it can easily weight 50-100 pound or more depending on the container size. Now let’s imagine you have 10 containers, is the deck or balcony or roof top designed to handle this extra load? Maybe, maybe not. It makes sense to check BEFORE you start.
Once you have clearance the next decision is what to grow. Some plants are perfectly suited to containers others are not. I like to advise people to create a kitchen garden in containers that can produce herbs, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and peppers. These crops can thrive in containers and provide allot of food and tons of recipe diversity.
For one thing, growing herbs are a must because they are too expensive to continually buy in stores and usually not that fresh. I suggest growing basil, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley and sage. These will cover most of your culinary herbage needs and they are all easy to grow. Some of the “woody” herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano can overwinter outside in a pot and come back strong the next year. Better still if they are outside facing south they can produce just about all year long. I have thyme and rosemary on my farm that have come back year after year living in containers outside even through cold winters that get below freezing many times. They are facing south and get sun all year long, even in the dead of winter.
If you live far north you may consider bringing herbs inside and placing them in a window sill that has natural light. If that is not possible, a simple fluorescent light hung over the container will allow it to keep growing inside.
When it comes to tomatoes, a 10-15 gallon pot with a few stakes is all you need to harvest beautiful tomatoes all season long. I like to plant cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes and a few types of heirlooms. Tomatoes are easy to grow too. When it comes to lettuces, it could not be easier to grow them but one must keep in mind that they do not like too much sun or too heat. Lettuce is a snap to grow, just toss the seeds in your container (i like half whiskey barrels) water and wait 7-10 before the sprout. You can continue to harvest lettuce by cutting it about 2 inches from the soil, it will keep growing and growing providing tender greens for months on end.
Depending on what you’re growing you must take into consideration the light requirements of certain plants. Tomatoes, herbs, peppers etc. prefer 6-8 hours of direct sunlight in order to thrive. Tomatoes in particular will not do well if they have less then 6 hours of sunlight. Also, daily watering is key to keeping plants stress-free and happy which equals a good harvest.
Another consideration is the size of the containers you need. That depends on the final size of the plant your growing, for tomatoes and bell peppers a 10-15 gallon container is needed. Herbs can usually get by on a 5 gallon container. I recommend building your own self-water containers that work well and help reduce water usage and time spent watering.
When it comes to soil, I prefer making my own by collecting the ingredients and mixing up the perfect potting soil. I use the following ingredients with rations indicated by weight:
-spaghnum peat moss 40%
-potting soil (organic) 20%
– composted manure 10%
All these products are available at any garden center or big-box home store. I simply mix them up in a clean garbage can, wet very well, then load up the containers. Keep in mind this mix is very light and airy. Spaghnum peat moss, perlite and vermiculite absorb tons of water and hold it near the plants roots. You will need allot of water for making the mix moist. Do not transplant young plants into soil that is too dry, or too wet. Needs to hold together in a ball when squeezed, if it falls apart add more water.
Once the plants have transplanted and seem healthy I use a watering can and an organic soil feed from Miracle Grow that is concentrated and takes about 1 capful for two gallons. This mixture of organic food and water will allow your plants to grow fast and healthy. Never allow them to dry out.
If you follow these simple steps, your small balcony or deck can be a great kitchen garden that produces valuable and healthy foods you can consume with great pride knowing you grew them. When that bountiful harvest leaves you wondering what to cook, visit Harvest Eating.com for recipes and videos.
Chef Keith Snow