Monday, November 16, 2009

Harvest Monday - 11/16/2009

Today is Harvest Monday, the time to show off what's coming out of your garden.

Last week I continued to harvest various peppers. I'm drying quite a few of the peppers so I strung some of them into ristras. To the left are Guindilla chile peppers, a medium hot pepper from Spain.

And to the right is a ristra of Chilhuacle Negro chile peppers. These chiles are typically dried and then used to make moles. The flesh is supposed to have a distinct licorice flavor, although I've not yet tried them myself.

In Diana Kennedy's book The Art of Mexican Cooking, published 20 years ago, she says that all the chihuacles (negro, rojo, and amarillo) are (were) gradually disappearing and expensive in Oaxaca, their place of origin. I've had a few email enquiries about where to find these chiles, so if you are looking for them try Peppermania for seeds or Cross Country Nurseries for mail order plants (see my side bar for links).

Shown below are some Chilhuacle Amarillo chile peppers, true to type this time, harvested from my second plant. And sharing space in the basket are the first Aji de la Tierra chile peppers to be harvested. These peppers are a medium hot baccatuum type pepper. I'm going to dry the bunch that you see below, but they're too small to string into a ristra.

The platter below shows the first mild chinense peppers to be harvested. These peppers are in the same family as Habanero and Scotch Bonnet chile peppers and have the same aromatic fruity flavor, but a lot less heat.

There is still eggplant to be harvested, as you can see below. We ate most if it this week in Eggplant Parmigiana and just simply pan fried with balsamico. The rest of the eggplant was sliced, brushed with olive oil, broiled and then frozen. The Pimento de Padrons are still trickling in as well. And the Piracicaba broccoli is also pushing out new side shoots, although they are getting smaller. I have to cut the plants back some to force new shoots from the base of the plants. Oh, and there is the very first Aji de la Tierra that I picked to taste.

A bowl of Kefe Beinwil snow peas. I've been amazed at how tender and tasty these peas stay even when the peas start to plump up the pods. I didn't get around to picking this bowlful until quite a few of the pods started looking more like snap peas, but even the fat pods were tender and tasty. I prepared these last night by melting some butter in a saute pan and allowing it to brown some, then sauteed the peas briefly, added a few tablespoons of water and cooked, tossing until the water was gone and the peas were tender, seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed them with some pomegranate arils. The green peas and red pomegrate were so pretty together. It was delicious. I picked another small handful of peas in addition to the bowlful shown below. The plants are nearly done producing for now. It will be interesting to see if they over winter and start producing in the spring.

And here's one more bunch of fennel seeds. I've got enough now to last a while.

Here's something new that I'm experimenting with. I have a small topiary olive tree in a pot that usually bears a few olives that I leave on the tree.

It's a pretty little tree and you can see below how lovely it is when it has olives on it.

But this year it set a remarkable number of olives and I couldn't resist picking the tree clean. I harvested 14 ounces of olives! So I'm experimenting with curing them to make them edible. Olives straight off the tree are incredibly bitter and tannic. It will be a couple of months before I know if the experiment is a success.

Please head on over to Daphne's Dandelions, the host of Harvest Monday, and admire what other gardeners are harvesting. Join in the fun yourself!


  1. Your olive tree looks lovely! And it's a good crop for a small tree. Good luck with curing them - I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

  2. Your peppers are so beautiful. I have a soft spot for peppers but not the really hot ones. All the different tastes are amazing. I am curious about string drying, do you just string them up and that's it? I dried a few this year in a low oven. I'm thinking I might as well of just hung them up now.

  3. Michelle - good luck with the olives...I can't wait to read about how they turn out. It seems like you're growing all of the trees that wish I could grow! There's something about olives that seem so majestic and ancestrial.

    Lovely peppers too. I'd love to grow C. Negro Chilies next year as I LOVE mole. Do you have a good chocolate mole recipe?

  4. Chaiselongue, you get all the credit for inspiring me to experiment with my olives!


    Dan, I'm with you, I love chiles of all sorts but don't go for extreme heat.

    The ristras have worked best when I can hang them outside in the sun as much as possible. This time of year I put them outside during the day and bring them in at night and when it's cloudy and cold. I guess that if you have an indoor spot that's warm with good air circulation that that might work.


    Thomas, I feel the same way about olives, they have such a long history of cultivation and can grow to be so old, they're a wonder. Not only that, I love to eat them!

    I don't have a mole recipe that I've actually tried yet. The Diana Kennedy book that I mentioned has a recipe for a Oaxacan Black Mole that uses the chilhuacle negro chiles, so I'm going to try that. It does have some chocolate in it, but not all moles do.

  5. Lovely ristras. I have one in my kitchen right now. I'm drying my cayennes. Someday I'll have to take it down and grind it.

    I've always wondered about olives. I know you can't eat them straight off the tree. It will be fun reading about what you do with them.

  6. Another fantastic harvest Michelle, and an amazing harvest of olives from such a small tree.

  7. that's it. Trees next year. I can't find anyone in town to give me olives, even though they're out there!

    The peppers are just breathtaking.

  8. The olives are beautiful! Can't wait to hear how your experiment goes. Are you considering planting out your olive tree so that it will grow large and produce even more olives?

  9. Jackie, I'll probably leave that tree in a pot, but I would like to get some other ones to plant out.

  10. Michelle, found you through Thomas' site. Such beautiful harvest and photos!

  11. Hi, I have an award for you on my blog. I enjoying reading your posts and thanks for blogging! No need to participate in the awards if you don't want to. =)

  12. Dan, I have to admit, I'm of two minds about awards... I appreciate the recognition but when it comes to passing them along... well, um...

  13. Hi Michelle, thanks for popping over to my patch to say hello. your four felines are lovely and it always makes me smile to see how often other gardening bloggers have furry friends in tow ;o) I recognised your blog name because I came across your site in the summer when you were in the thick of your caper capers.
    have a lovely weekend, Nic x


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