Summer Vegetables

Summer means filling bellies not just with the freshest produce possible but also with preserved vegetables the rest of the year. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
If your garden isn’t in full swing yet, it’s about to be. Even here in Montana, with our long winters and short growing season, spring produce is beginning to wind down: Lettuces and spinach will soon be bolting, the asparagus crop has tapered off, and the strawberry bed has been picked nearly clean. In their place, summer produce is ready to burst forth, launching itself into the annual race to grow faster than I can harvest and process.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen how I deal with spring’s vegetable bounty: #dailysalad. But with a large garden, summer vegetables need a different approach. The next few weeks are not just about filling bellies with the freshest produce possible but also about preserving those vegetables so that they can fill bellies the rest of the year. Here’s how I’ll be spending the next few weeks.
Read more about enjoying summer vegetables year-round

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Slow Cooker Fruit Butters

The garden I play in came with an established orchard—primarily apple trees. With little effort on our part, we always seem to end the growing season with far more boxes of apples than we need. After we’ve eaten our fill, I always store a box or two of whole, unblemished apples for eating out of hand. Then I make as much applesauce as my canning shelves can hold. By November, I’m salvaging the fruit in the remaining boxes to create apple butter.

Fruit butters capture all of the flavor of your chosen fruit. Often seen as finicky, they’re traditionally prone to burning and need endless stirring during their lengthy cooking time. I avoided them for years but then discovered a slow cooker variation. I fell for the hands-off, burnproof technique that let me dump a bunch of fruit into my Crock-Pot, leave it to cook for hours, and return to find a perfect blend ready for the canning kettle.
Learn to make Any-Fruit Butter and Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Processed Green Tomatoes

When I asked members of the Twice as Tasty Facebook group for recipes they’d like to see on the blog, green tomato requests poured in. I try to ripen my late-season tomatoes and eat the stubborn ones fresh, so my green tomato repertoire was limited. Perfecting long-term storage of green tomatoes called for experimentation, practice—and some unannounced taste testing at Twice as Tasty-catered events.

After sampling a range of pickled and fermented green tomatoes and salsa, sauce, relish, and chutney recipes, a few trends appeared. Pickled greenies are best stored in the refrigerator, where they never feel the heat of a boiling water bath and retain their shape and texture. Salsas could go either way. If you can’t create Grilled Tomatillo Salsa, you can process a green tomato salsa—but I prefer it fresh. In contrast, processing is ideal for a thick, rich chutney.
Learn to make Curried and Pickled Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Chutney

Season Wrap-up

After a scorching-hot summer in Montana—literally, with more than 1 million acres burned—fall has come on fast and furious, with a chance of snow at my house this morning. The quick downshift from summer to practically winter instantly affected the garden. Overnight, cucumbers and snap beans stopped growing, apples began falling, and large leaves of self-seeded spinach reappeared in my overgrown and ignored spring cold frame.

Within the hoop house, plants are weathering the weather better, but it won’t be long before I’m forced to admit the final round of peppers and tomatillos won’t grow larger and the remaining tomatoes won’t turn red on the vine. Fortunately, unripened produce can still land in the kitchen instead of the compost. With the right timing, you can enjoy every last late-season vegetable.
Read more about wrapping up the garden