September is one of my favourite months for many reasons, not least the continuing harvest and thoughts turning to next year’s growing season.
In the community gardens and at home we’ve started to write our lists of seeds to buy, we’re pondering over what grew well for us, what didn’t, what we liked and what we’d sooner give a miss to and we’re also keeping our eyes open for sources of well-rotted organic matter that can be added to the beds once we’ve cleared them of spent crops.
Following a successful and enjoyable preserving workshop held by Olivia at Lavistown House in Kilkenny for the Goresbridge and Kilkenny gardening groups recently (funded by Kilkenny Leader Partnership), we’ve looked at recipe ideas for pickling and preserving many of the fruit and vegetables that are still growing.
In the next week or two we’ll be firing up the stoves and cleaning the jars in preparation for a couple of group preserving sessions where we’ll share the work and fun involved with pickle and jam making.
Containing juicy, ripe tomatoes, coriander seeds, chillies and onions you can’t beat it for a burst of autumn flavour and colour.
It’s much tastier than the racks of jars you’ll find on shelves or cold cabinets in supermarkets that have been imported from sunnier climates and if you’re growing your own, you can’t get any more local and of course, it’s free!
Salsa Recipe Ingredients
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 large red onion chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
1-2 hot green chillies or to taste
450g/1lb ripe tomatoes
4 tsp chopped coriander
Dry fry the seeds in a heavy based saucepan for a few minutes, then crush using a pestle and mortar.
Mix together all the ingredients, cover and stand for at least 30 mins or overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
Green tomato tips:
With nights drawing in and temperatures dropping, I’ve noticed lots of people seeking advice on ripening their green tomatoes.
Tomatoes need warmth to ripen so whether they’re growing inside or out, first nip out the growing tips at the top of the stems to stop the plants growing any further – at this time of year it’s wasted growth – the plants will not be forming any more fruit at this stage. Remove any flowers or small fruit that are trying to develop then remove all the leaves from the plants which will allow the fruits to bathe in the last heat of the autumn and not nestle behind cold, dark foliage.
If your plants are strung up, you could try untieing them and laying them down on black plastic or weed membrane (not something I’ve tried but have heard it’s very effective). Again, the tomatoes will pick up the warmth from their dark underblanket.
Placing green tomatoes next to ripe bananas (that emit ethylene, a ripening chemical) works to a certain degree but personally we’ve found that the skins toughen and turn blotchy and unattractive.
If all else fails you might like to try a couple of recipe ideas for green tomatoes – the first a green tomato and chilli chutney and secondly (I promise you’ll never know they’re in there) green tomato buns which are our son’s most favourite of all the ‘vegetable’ cakes.