Monday, November 26, 2012

Harvest Monday - November 26, 2012

It has been easy to pretend that it is still summer around here. The weather has been sunny and mild, at times downright delightful, but then darkness descends early and I know it's not real, winter is coming. But the tomatoes have been lingering and we're still enjoying Caprese salads (in November!).

I was able to harvest another 5 pounds of Martian Giant tomatoes, which brings the production from the one plant up to 67 pounds for the season. I am so pleased with this variety. It has been healthy, productive, resistant to cracking, and it tastes good.

Martian Giant

The Amish Paste plants yielded nearly 2 1/2 more pounds of ripe fruits, and there were a few more tomatoes from the Nyagous, Rosabec, and Jaune Flamme plants as well. These have been small and the skins a bit tough, but they have still been delicious. And the Fiaschetto plants also eked out another 1 1/2 pounds of ripe tomatoes as well. Not photographed was the 1/2 pound of cherry tomatoes - more lunch treats for my husband.

Amish Paste, Nyagous, Rosabec, Jaune Flamme and Fiaschetto

One of my favorite Capsicum baccatuum varieties is Christmas Bell and I have three plants this year, but they did not do well. The plants were not happy and did not get very large so I got a very small crop. This was the miserly harvest of 3.3 ounces from last week.

Christmas Bell

Aji Pineaple is another favorite baccatuum variety that didn't do well this year. Those few yellow pods brought my harvest total up to 1.4 ounces for the year. But yet another favorite baccatuum that does exceptionally well in my garden has not disappointed. The red chiles are Aji Angelo, a mild pepper that I like to oven dry and grind into flakes. I've harvested over a pound of these and there are still some ripening on the plant.

Aji Pineapple and Aji Angelo

That's my first harvest of the fall planting of Lacinato kale. I braised that bunch with Gigante beans in turkey broth seasoned with tomatoes, garlic, and ground dried Sigaretta Dolce peppers - big yum. The Apollo broccoli produced a few more harvestable shoots which I'll save for now until I can harvest a few more shoots. And the Pimento de Padron plants produced a few more pods. It's a bit of a roulette game with the Padrons now - there's a few more spicy ones in the mix!

Lacinato kale, Apollo Broccoli, Pimento de Padron

I pulled all the dry pods from the Fagiolo del Purgatorio plants. This bunch yielded a pint jar of beans that I've not weighed yet. I will wait until the rest of the pods are harvested and dried and then weigh them all together. A lot of the beans are smaller than usual because the plants died an early spider mite induced death. Next year I'll grow them again, earlier, and more of them, and keep a sharper eye out for the evil mites.

Fagioli del Purgatorio

So, the weather report. It may not look like summer weather for a lot of you, but this is about as good as it gets around here. Highs up to the mid-70's and lows staying above 40ºF and best of all - no fog! It's helping the garden to continue giving. We are due for a couple more mild days and then a wet storm is supposed to hang around for a few days - no more summer. :(

Here's the harvests for the past week:

Apollo broccoli - 2.8 oz.
Dorato di Asti celery - 4 oz.
Lacinato kale - 10.7 oz.
Red Salad Bowl lettuce - 1.3 oz.
Parade "Scallions" - 2 lb.
Aji Angelo peppers - 9.7 oz.
Aji Pineapple peppers - .8 oz.
Christmas Bell peppers - 3.3 oz.
Large Sweet Antigua pepper - 3.2 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 4.7 oz.
Amish Paste tomatoes - 2 lb., 9.7 oz.
Fiaschetto tomatoes - 1 lb., 8.8 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 4.1 oz.
Martian Giant tomatoes - 5 lb., .8 oz.
Nyagous tomatoes - 5.9 oz.
Rosabec tomatoes - 9 oz.
Sunshine Cherry tomatoes - 3.2 oz.
Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomatoes - 6.4 oz.

The total harvests for the past week came to- 15 lb., 8.4 oz.
Which boosts the totals for the year up to - 718 lb., 12.1 oz.

That's a lot to be thankful for! Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harvest Monday - November 19, 2012

My husband looked at the box of vegetables that I brought in from the garden yesterday afternoon and remarked "is that all the tomatoes that you harvested?". As in - that's not very much. And I had to remind him that it is, after all, the middle of November. You are darned lucky to be getting any fresh tomatoes at all!

November tomatoes!

And I was actually thinking - when are they going to be done? 327 pounds for the year is plenty! I've got canned tomatoes, dried tomatoes, slow roasted tomatoes, frozen tomato puree, sauce, paste, and jam. Enough.

Fiaschetto tomatoes and one pod of Fagiolo del Purgatorio beans

The Fiaschetto tomatoes really surprised me, there were another 5 pounds of tomatoes ready to be harvested. But you can see in the photo above that they have been infected with something that is producing some spots so they have to be used up quickly. The bean pod is one of the first Fagiolo del Purgatorio bean pods to dry on the plants. I need to start harvesting the dry pods before they start to spoil from the rain that we've had lately. Not all the pods have matured enough, which actually is not because of the weather, the plants were suddenly and almost completely overtaken by spider mites. The leaves all yellowed and dropped off before I could figure out the problem and intervene, but there are enough mature beans so that I can at least save enough seeds to try again next year and perhaps even get enough for a white bean salad.

Apollo broccoli shoots

The Apollo broccoli plants are still pushing out a few shoots. I have to remember next year that I need to grow more plants for the fall harvest, the plants just don't get as big at this time of year so they produce smaller main heads and fewer side shoots. Four plants were plenty for the spring planting but I think I'll grow six for the fall planting next year.

Parade "scallion"
and Flamingo chard

I harvested the first picking of chard from the fall/winter planting. And I used a couple of my huge overgrown scallions to make some tomato soup. The "scallions" are quite good for cooking so I harvested another one to add to the sauteed chard along with some pine nuts, currants, garlic and fish sauce (as a substitute for anchovies).

Salangana eggplant, mixed tomatoes, Christmas Bell peppers,
Kamo and Diamond eggplants and King of the North bell peppers

Salangana was the winner of the eggplant production competition this year, the 3 plants have produced nearly 19 pounds of fruits, compared to 13.5 for Kamo and 11.3 for Diamond. The one Sicilian plant produced 2.5 pounds of eggplant, but I allowed the first fruit that set to completely mature so that I could save the seeds. I'll see how it compares next year when the fruits are harvested regularly.

Dorato di Asti celery

The Dorato di Asti celery is finally getting large enough that I can harvest some stalks. I think it was slowed down a bit by an aphid/ant infestation. I treated the plants with a Pyganic (an organic approved treatment extracted from pyrethrum chrysanthemum) and insecticidal soap combination a couple of weeks ago and haven't seen any new aphids so far. I generally don't like to use pesticides of any sort, even organic ones, but I couldn't get the aphids under control because the ants were "farming" them, so I resorted to the Pyganic with a small amount of insecticidal soap to use as a surfactant. The plants have really started to take off now, probably because they aren't as stressed by the aphids and the weather has cooled off and we've been getting moderate amounts of rain.

Speaking of weather, I've been retrieving weekly weather graphs from the National Weather Service for my locality. It would be great if I had my own weather station (maybe I'll put that on my birthday wish list next year), but I can get data from just a couple of miles away which is nearly the same as what I experience at home so that will do for now. It's easy to see when we get rain, the graph flattens out with lower highs and higher lows. When it clears up the nighttime temperatures dip deeper. So, there wasn't anything really extreme for the past week. The roller-coaster weather that we had for the few weeks previous seems to be over for now.
Temperatures - November 12 to 19

Here's the harvest totals for the past week:

Apollo broccoli - 4.2 oz.
Dorato di Asti celery - 2.9 oz.
Flamingo chard - 1 lb., 6.6 oz.
Diamond eggplant - 11.8 oz.
Kamo eggplant - 7.1 oz.
Salangana eggplant - 1 lb., 13 oz.
Parade "scallions" - 2 lb., 3.2 oz.
Christmas Bell peppers - 5.4 oz.
King of the North bell peppers - 5.6 oz.
Pimento de Padron peppers - 3.2 oz.
Amish Paste tomatoes - 3 lb., 14.5 oz.
Fiaschetto tomatoes - 5 lb., 1.8 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 5.4 oz.
Martian Giant tomtoes - 2 lb., 11.9 oz.
Nyagous tomatoes - 7 oz.
Sunshine Cherry tomatoes - 6.1 oz.
Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomatoes - 10.4 oz.

The total harvests for the past week came to - 21 lb., 8.1 oz.
Which pushes the total harvests for the year up to - 703 lb., 3.7 oz.

Woo hoo, over 700 pounds of produce for the year! I'm truly amazed what my garden can produce. Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Using My Tomato Bounty

The start of the tomato season finds my husband and me ticking off a list of the "must have" tomato dishes that we indulge in as long as tomato season lasts. The very first slicing tomatoes tend to be used as their name implies, sliced and arranged on a platter and simply dressed with salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, and basil or oregano. Once the craving for a simple tomato salad is satisfied then I start to adorn the sliced tomatoes with other goodies.

Here's a few of the variations that I remember from this season:

Sliced tomatoes with...
  • buffalo mozzarella and basil with a dressing of balsamic or red wine vinegar and olive oil, aka Caprese salad
  • topped with diced cucumber, diced sweet peppers, and halved cherry tomatoes with mint and/or basil and perhaps some capers and a simple oil and vinegar dressing and perhaps with some pomegranate molasses added to the dressing
  • Caprese salad topped with the afore mentioned mixture
  • Crumbled chevre, toasted pine nuts, and basil with a balsamic vinaigrette (capers are a good addition or substitution for the pine nuts)
  • crumbled ricotta salata mixed with minced fresh herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, thyme, chives - all or a selection) and a balsamic vinegar dressing
  • chopped sweet red pepper and pomegranate arils with a pomegranate molasses dressing
I also like to make a chopped salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, avocados, blanched green beans if I have them and sunflower seeds. I'll add pomegranate arils when they come in season (now!) and I might add leftover diced chicken or pork to make a more substantial lunch salad.

Then there is the parade of recipes that I've collected or perfected (or still perfecting) over the years:
This post has been a good prompt to get me to write up some of the "recipes" that I had floating around as notes here and there, or simply as recollections that I want to remember for next year. The eggplant dish is a case where I didn't really even write any notes, but my husband really enjoyed that dish so I know that he will ask for it again. All I remember now is that I grilled the sliced eggplant on my stovetop ridged griddle, arranged it on a platter and topped it with some fresh mozzarella (did I grate it or slice it, um, don't remember). I put it in a warm oven (200º or 250º?) to just soften, not quite melt the mozzarella, then I topped it with a mixture of fresh chopped tomatoes with seasonings - exactly what, I don't remember - could have been basil or dried oregano, garlic, and chopped capers, some olive oil and vinegar - sounds good. Anyway, that's something to remember to play around with next year.

I would say that that pretty much covers the fresh tomato feasts we've been enjoying the last couple of months and maybe the next couple of weeks. Next, I'm going to go over what I've been doing to preserve the tomatoes that we can't manage to eat fresh.

Do you have any tomato dishes that you must enjoy when the tomato crop comes in? Do share!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Harvest Monday - November 12, 2012

I do believe that "summer" has nearly gasped its last breath around here. There were tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini in the harvest basket in the past two weeks, but the amounts have dwindled and will soon be gone.

Sunshine and Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomatoes,
Nyagous, Jaune Flamme, and Rosabec tomatoes

The tomatoes have pretty much quit ripening on the vine this week as the temperatures have plunged.


There was one more good  harvest of vine ripened Fiaschetto tomatoes and there's still a good amount of half ripe and a few green fruits left on the plants. I may pull the plants and hang them in the garage to see if the rest of the tomatoes will ripen up on the vines.

Martian Giant and Amish Paste

There were a few more beautiful Martian Giant and Amish Paste tomatoes that ripened in the garden as well. These have been keeping well indoors so we should be enjoying "fresh" tomatoes for another week or so.

Flamingo Bell, Da Fiore zucchini, Kamo and Sicilian eggplants

That's the last ripe Flamingo Bell and the next to last harvest of zucchini. I pulled all the zucchini plants out on Saturday and today I'll be planting garlic in that space. The nearly dead cucumber vines also came out to make way for the garlic. I harvested all the sizable Kamo and Sicilian eggplants but didn't have time to harvest the rest of the eggplants. I hope that they have survived the plunge in nighttime temperatures, I'll find out today.

Last Friday I harvested but did not manage to photograph the rest of the ripe peppers, a few broccoli shoots, and some kale.

The weather in the past couple weeks swung from fall back to summer and then made a complete about-face to winter. We went from highs in the 60ºs which then progressed to highs in the 80º's and low 90ºs and then the highs plunged to the 50ºs and low 60ºs with nighttime temperatures dropping down to 40º and the high 30º's. The temperatures have been swinging back and forth for the past couple of months but this turn to the cold side feels like it's here to stay. It was a little weird the other night to be dining on a tart with garden fresh tomatoes and then cuddling up in front of the first fire of the season. We had a couple of systems come through that dropped a fair amount of rain (that's the blips where the nighttime temps stayed in the 50ºs). We've had enough rain this month to get the wild grasses growing and the brown hillsides will soon be sporting fresh green coats.

I was gone for much of the week before last so I didn't harvest much that week so here's the harvests for the past two weeks:

Apollo broccoli - 12 oz.
Kamo eggplant - 7 oz.
Sicilian eggplant - 9.9 oz.
Lark's Tongue kale - 4 oz.
Aji Angelo peppers - 15.7 oz.
Aji Pineapple peppers - .6 oz.
Big Jim peppers - 2.9 oz.
Flamingo bell peppers - 2.3 oz.
Havana peppers - 2.1 oz.
Lady Bell peppers - 1 lb., 3.7 oz.
Large Sweet Antigua peppers - 1 lb., 1.1 oz.
Liebesapfel peppers - 11.2 oz.
Mayo Pimento peppers - 3 oz.
Melrose peppers - 9.6 oz.
Morocco peppers - 9.4 oz.
Padron peppers - 8.8 oz.
Shephard's Ramshorn peppers - 13.8 oz.
Sigaretta Dolce peppers - 3 oz.
Yellow Manzano peppers - 1.8 oz.
Amish Paste tomatoes - 5 lb., .6 oz.
Fiaschetto tomatoes - 67.8 oz.
Jaune Flamme tomatoes - 4.4 oz.
Martian Giant tomatoes - 6 lb., 14.9 oz.
Nyagous tomatoes - 9.3 oz.
Rosabec tomatoes - 11.7 oz.
Sunshine cherry tomatoes - 7.2 oz.
Wheatly's Frost Resistant cherry tomatoes - 15.4 oz.
Da Fiore zucchini - 2 lb., 4.3 oz.

The harvest totals for the past two weeks came to - 31 lb., 1.5 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for the year up to - 681 lb., 11.6 oz.

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne on her blog Daphne's Dandelions, head on over there to see what other garden bloggers have been harvesting lately.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How was the tomato harvest this year? Not bad, not bad at all.

I was complaining back in July and August as I watched other garden bloggers show off their tomato harvests whilst my maters did a good impersonation of little green rocks. I was growing more and more green myself (with envy) as the weeks went by and the ripe tomatoes paraded across my computer screen every Harvest Monday and I had a hard time finding even green tomatoes on my vines. But my tomatoes finally came through in the end, right on schedule, at least for this region.

Impatience is one of the big problems that I have about growing tomatoes. Another problem is a summer (by the calendar) that generally acts like an extended spring which means that the season for tomatoes starts in August at the earliest and in September in earnest. Around here summer weather doesn't really kick in until the calendar is on the verge of saying it's autumn.  It has taken me a few years to start to accept that fact. When I gardened in the south part of the San Francisco bay area I usually sowed my tomato seeds around early February and planted the seedlings out some time in April (one year I got away with planting them out in March) and started harvesting in early July. There the bulk of the tomato crop came in in August and I usually had a second crop in September. But I've learned (am learning) that there is no point in trying to rush tomatoes around here, the plants will grow but the flowers will drop because the nighttime temperatures remain too cold to allow pollination until sometime in July.

I'm finally resisting the temptation to start my "summer" vegetables too early. This year I didn't sow the bulk of my tomato seeds until March 30 and then a few more on April 11. Those babies had to wait until May 21 to settle into the garden and even that late in the season I enclosed the planting in some greenhouse plastic. Once the plants were tucked into their garden bed they really took off, the long sunny days and the mini greenhouse prompted the plants to grow like they were on steroids. The plastic sheeting came off on July 4 when the vines had about half filled their 5-foot tall cages. By the beginning of August the indeterminate plants had reached the tops of the cages and there were some good looking green fruits on the plants, very green, green green green...

August 17, ripe tomatoes at last! By the end of August I had harvested almost 6 pounds of tomatoes. LOL, 6 pounds from 11 plants, whoopee. And then 139 pounds in September, nice. And then another 149 pounds in October, very nice. But wait, there's a little more - 19 pounds so far in November. I'm not complaining about my tomato harvests now. Over 300 pounds of tomatoes. So, here's the not-quite-final stats (there should be a trickle of tomatoes to harvest in the next week or so unless the weather turns really ugly):

Amish Paste (2 plants)
Fiaschetto (3 plants) (det.)
Jaune Flamme
Martian Giant

Rosabec (det.)
Sunshine Cherry (det.?)
Wheatly’s Frost Resistant Cherry


The most productive variety was hands down Martian Giant at 59 pounds of tomatoes off of one plant, and there's still some half-ripe fruits left that will probably ripen just fine. Rosabec is in second place at the moment but Amish Paste at an average 36.7 pounds per plant will probably edge it out in the end since it has more half-ripe fruits and Rosabec has none. And you can see the harvest stats on the rest of the varieties yourself.

What was my favorite variety this year? I have to give the prize for best flavor to Jaune Flamme, but it is not a perfect tomato, at only 14 pounds it came in second to last for production, I really wish it had produced more. But they were almost all winners in their categories, the only real disappointment was Wheatly's Frost Resistant Cherry, I wasn't impressed by the flavor although it did improve after a couple of hot spells.

If you're not too bored yet I'll go on a bit more about each variety. I chose most of the varieties because they are supposed to do well in cool climates, although a couple aren't touted as such. My choices were also based on use, I wanted a variety to make sauce and can, another variety for drying and saucing,  a couple of cherry tomatoes for snacking and salads, a beefsteak for slicing and baking, and some pretty slicing tomatoes of various colors for salads.

Amish Paste

This is the second year that I've grown Amish Paste. I got my seeds from Thomas at A Growing Tradition (anyone hear from him lately? he hasn't posted in ages). This was a surprise performer in my garden, I don't usually expect Amish varieties to do well in my cool climate, if they produce they don't generally taste as good as expected, but it has been the best paste tomato that I've ever grown. The tomatoes tend to be on the large side and very meaty with few seeds. It is best used, in my opinion, to make sauce and paste and is a great canner. It comes in a little bit late, as you can see in my chart above. It's very productive and the vines are quite vigorous, although the plants were attacked by some sort or sorts of disease, but they didn't die back completely and are still alive but ugly even now. I saved some seeds this year and will be growing it again next year.


Fiaschetto (meaning "little flask") is an heirloom plum tomato from Puglia. This is another surprise performer hailing from a warm region but doing quite well in my garden this year. The plants are determinate, only reaching about 2.5 feet tall and produced the bulk of the crop in a few weeks but produced smaller amounts for an extended time. In a warmer climate I wouldn't be surprised if they put out a small second crop, my plants have put out some healthy new growth and and flowers lately but there is no time left in the season for any new tomatoes to set. The tomatoes are somewhat juicy and seedy but still make a good sauce and are excellent dried. Their flavor as a salad tomato is not impressive but perhaps in a warmer climate they would be suitable for fresh eating as well. I grew these last year but the exceptionally cold damp summer that we had then knocked the plant down early. The flavor of the few tomatoes that I harvested and dried last year made me want to try them again this year and I'm glad that I did. They will be back again next year as well but I think I'll only need 2 plants instead of 3.

Jaune Flamme

I think that Jaune Flamme was the prettiest as well as the tastiest tomato that I grew this year. It is sweet and tangy with a fruity flavor that is unusual. The fruits are small, some just about the size of a large cherry tomato but on average about the size of a very large apricot. The skins are a bit thick but not bothersome. As I mentioned before it wasn't very productive, but the flavor and beauty makes me want to give it a try again next year. I used most of these tomatoes fresh in salads and didn't have to preserve many because they didn't produce enough to overwhelm. I don't really mind the low production as long as I get enough to eat fresh, that's what I want them for, I'm growing other varieties for preserving.

Martian Giant 

Martian Giant, wow, 59 pounds of tomatoes off of one plant. This is a classic beefsteak tomato that ranges in size from a typical round market tomato to big one-pound-plus oblong giants. It has a classic tomato flavor, neither too sweet nor too acid, a perfect BLT tomato. It is also great sliced and paired with fresh mozzarella for a classic Caprese salad. I used a lot of these in baked tomato dishes and they also made an excellent base for gazpacho. The only flaws, and these are minor, are that it is a late producer (but not too late) and it has a fibrous core that is difficult to remove or slice through. The vines seem to be resistant to disease, the plant stayed relatively healthy and got huge even though the other varieties to either side were affected by various diseases that can infect tomato plants.


Nyagous is an heirloom originally from Russia. It comes in a pretty close second to Jaune Flamme for flavor and beauty. The yield would have been higher but some critter (probably a rat, grrrr) decided that it was tasty and kept spoiling some of the biggest and best looking fruits by snacking on them. It is an indeterminate variety that seems to be susceptible to some tomato plant diseases but the plant didn't die back completely and produced a good crop in spite of losing a lot of leaves. This is another variety that I grew primarily for fresh eating and it didn't disappoint. I'll probably grow it again next year.


Rosabec is a determinate variety that sets a lot of tomatoes all at once but the crop ripens up over a surprisingly long time. I was also surprised at how productive it was for such a small plant, it only filled the bottom third of it's 5-foot cage but I harvested almost 38 pounds from it. The tomatoes are a beautiful pink and most of them are well formed, but they are susceptible to blossom end rot and cracking. The flavor is very good, another excellent tomato for fresh eating with a good sweet tomato flavor. But I think I will continue my search for a good pink tomato, the BER was quite extensive and other than just a few Amish Paste none of the other varieties that I grew developed BER this year so I think the problem was with the variety.

Sunshine Cherry and
Wheatly's Frost Resistant Cherry

I tried 2 new cherry tomatoes this year, the bright yellow Sunshine Cherry and the pink Wheatly's Frost Resistant. Sunshine is supposed to be an indeterminate grower but it seemed more semi-determinate, it never filled the 5-foot cage that I grew it in. That really doesn't bother me too much since picking cherry tomatoes is one of my least favorite harvest tasks and I have been know to let overly productive cherry tomatoes rot on the vine because I get so fed up with harvesting them. Sunshine produced enough over its season to keep my husband happily snacking. I wish that Wheatly's Frost Resistant had been as good tasting and productive as Sunshine. Wheatly was rather bland tasting until we had a couple of hot spells and then it developed some acidity, but it didn't sweeten up enough for my taste. My husband usually let them sit in favor of Sunshine, so I ended up drying a few pounds of them which surprisingly improved the flavor a lot.  It is also a rather late producer. I would have liked to have more cherry tomatoes overall, one productive plant wasn't quite enough to keep my husband's lunch bag full and provide enough to add to salads. Next year Sunshine Cherry will be back in the lineup but Wheatly's won't.

So that was the 2012 tomato experience. Next up - What I did with 300 pounds of tomatoes...

What are your favorite tomato varieties? Do you have any recommendations for those of us trying to ripen up a good tasting tomato in a cool climate?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sage Butter

Last week I noticed that my Tri-color garden sage was starting to die. Oh crum, I've been trying to grow garden sage in this part of the garden for the last couple of years. Sage is one of the few edibles that I can grow outside the confines of the garden fence, the deer don't like it and the gophers don't seem to either. Unfortunately, there seems to be something in the soil in the area where I want to grow it that is killing it off. Last year my Purple Leaf sage died. A couple of months ago my Berggarten sage died. And last week I noticed that the creeping crud had moved on over to the Tri-color sage, about a quarter of the plant had died. I didn't have time to harvest the surviving parts of the plant because I was getting ready to leave for a long weekend away, I figured I would deal with it when I had a chance after I got home. Yesterday I saw, to my horror, that less than a quarter of the plant was was still alive. I immediately harvested what was healthy looking and then had to figure out what to do with it. Dried sage is ok but I really prefer to cook with fresh sage. I have another sage plant that has been plugging along for a few years elsewhere in the garden that produces almost enough through the winter to keep me supplied with fresh sage flavor so I don't use dried sage even if I have it on hand. So, how to make the best use of this final offering from my poor plant?

What was left after the harvest

And then inspiration struck. One of my favorite flavor combinations is browned butter and sage, it's wonderful with snap peas, green beans, winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, ricotta gnocchi, and more. It sure would be nice to have a log of it in the freezer to slice off a chunk whenever I want that flavor treat.

After plucking all the leaves of any size from the stems I ended up with about 1.2 ounces. I melted a pound of butter in a small saucepan and tossed in the leaves and left it on the lowest heat to slowly crisp the leaves and brown the milk solids. The tricky part of this process is making sure that the leaves become crisp without burning them or the solids in the butter. I managed to keep a sharp eye on the process and not wander off to the garden or get engaged in some other task at the critical moment. I separated the crisp leaves from the butter and set each aside to cool separately. Now I could wander off to the garden to finish harvesting the trickle of tomatoes that have been ripening in our latest spell of warm weather.

It's easiest to work the butter when it is at solid room temperature but you can hurry the process along by refrigerating it for a while, don't let it get too hard or you won't be able to easily reincorporate the sage leaves. Coarsely chop the sage leaves and stir it into the thickened butter, you don't want to smash it up too much. Plop the butter mixture out on a sheet of plastic film and form it into a log. A bit of time in the refrigerator may help at this point if the butter is sticking to the film too much. Roll the log in the film and twist the ends of the film to make a sausage shape and freeze.

There is one surviving sage plant in that part of the garden. I'm going to keep a sharp eye on it and a couple of pounds of butter in the fridge.

The last survivor, how much time does it have left?

What would you like to melt a pat of sage butter on top of?