Monday, January 14, 2013

Harvest Monday - January 14, 2013

Harvest Monday is here again, but I don't have much to show off this week. Actually, I didn't manage to take any photos of my harvests this week, so there isn't anything at all to show off. Besides, what I did manage to harvest was not show-off material, the birds took care of that. The little birds, I'm not sure what exactly, discovered the delicious greens in my garden and attacked like they hadn't eaten anything so yummy is years. The lacinato kale, which I was just about to get a nice harvest from, now looks like green lace. I covered that up with netting, so the LBB's (little brown birds) moved on to the Tronchuda Beira and Apollo Broccoli, those didn't start turning into lace, they simply started to disappear. I also had to drape the emerging fava beans with netting because the little boogers were scratching around and digging up the seedlings as they appeared. For whatever reason they have not attacked the Lark's Tongue kale or the chard, yet... Enough about that.

In lieu of showing off a current harvest I'm taking the opportunity to talk about what I am doing with a previous harvest. I harvested an abundance of ripe thin fleshed sweet peppers, aka frying peppers. They are delicious eaten green or ripe, pan fried or fresh in salads, but there was no way that I could keep up with eating them fresh from the garden. I harvested almost 22 pounds of frying peppers, which was just a fraction of my total harvest of almost 122 pounds of peppers. I ended up drying a lot of them and I never pulled out my dehydrator. This past pepper season I dried most of my sweet peppers in a 200ºF oven, some of them just to a point of dryness and other ones (not always intentionally) to a more toasted state. Either way they are delicious and my favorite way to use those dried/toasted peppers is to grind them up.

Toasted Sigaretta Dolce peppers

The extra crispy toasted peppers tend to come out somewhat powdery and only a bit flaky when they are ground up.

Ground toasted Sigaretta Dolce peppers

My favorite method for grinding chiles and sweet peppers is to run them through the food grinder attachment for my mixer.

Some larger pepper flakes from the less crispy peppers tend to get stuck inside the grinder, but it is easy to just chop those with a knife and add them to the mix.

The peppers that aren't crispy dry come out more flaky than powdery. I removed the seeds and cores from some of the peppers before I dried them. They dry more quickly that way and produce seedless flakes or powder. I like my ground peppers both ways. One of my spicier chiles, my beloved Aji Angelos, are totally sweet when dried without the seeds and cores, and medium spicy when they are dried whole and ground with the seeds and cores intact.

Ground oven-dried Sigaretta Dolce peppers

So how do I use my ground peppers? The spicy ones I use in place of buying store-bought chile pepper flakes, all the usual ways. The sweet ones I use much more liberally. I often times enrich tomato sauce with a tablespoon or two. They are a delicious addition to vegetable soup. Sprinkle them on vegetables, eggs, meats, or into salads. Add them to a marinade. They are excellent on anything with melted cheese. What else...

I grind up a batch and keep them in the refrigerator for longer storage, typically the spicy ones since I don't use them as much. The sweet flakes disappear much more quickly so I just keep a jar right to hand on the kitchen counter.

Big change in the weather this past week. The graph when from really spiky to more flat down in the cold (for us) range.

The closest National Weather Service station recorded lows down to 28 the last couple of nights, but my weather station recorded a low of 24.5 this morning, just slightly colder than the previous morning.

It's not often that I find this out in the garden.

Back to the harvest. Here's what the garden produced last week:

Apollo broccoli - 4 ounces
Tronchuda Beira cabbage - 1 lb., 5.8 oz.

The total harvests for the past week came to 1 lb., 9.8 oz.
Which brings the total harvests for the year to - 5 lb., 13.4 oz.

The broccoli was blanched to get rid of the aphids and caterpillars, of which there were almost none for a change, then briefly sauteed in olive oil with lots of chopped garlic and finished with some aged moscatel vinegar and some sweet pepper flakes. The Tronchuda Beira went into a soup with the last of the 2011 Petaluma Goldrush beans, celery root (not from the garden, mine are still tiny and likely to stay that way), canned tomatoes, carrots (none from the garden this year), onions, and ham. Perfect for a cold winter night.

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.


  1. Nice peppers and flakes! Good way to get in your peppers! My garden has been a bit icy lately too!

  2. Love the beautiful chili powder/flakes... makes me want to go cook something with lots of ground chii peppers in it! I have not had much problems with birds and greens (other than my own hens getting into the garden, but the LBB in our area are famous for eating just germinated/sprouted pea seeds. I have learned the hard way and actually net my pea patch each spring when I seed it. Apparently they like sprouts as much as we do!

  3. Sorry to hear about your bird troubles. Sometimes I think you would do best with a total screening of the outside world. You have so many non insect pests there.

  4. I always get great ideas from your blog - I had never thought of drying sweet peppers (despite using paprika quite often....). Now I'm hoping I get a great harvest so I can give this a go.

  5. I must remember your drying and grinding methods if I get a good supply of sweet peppers this year.

  6. Good advice on processing dried peppers. I will use it as soon as I am able to actually grow some peppers! And speaking of hot chilies, I wonder if giving your greens a cayenne pepper spray would repel the birds?

  7. I don't know why I hadn't thought of grinding rather than processing dried peppers — brilliant!

  8. Thanks for the tip, never thought of using food grinder to grind peppers, love the color, it's so beautiful.


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