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

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Grilled Tomatoes

I grill a lot of vegetables, from asparagus to tomatillos, but I probably spend the most time grilling tomatoes. Not only are they delicious on a skewer with other vegetables for dinner, but they’re also fabulous when pulled off the canning shelf or from the freezer. And the process for grilling large tomatoes is easy: slice them in half, sear them cut side down on a hot grill for a couple of minutes, and then flip and cook a few more minutes until soft.

Those of us with large gardens quickly come up with enough grilled tomato batches for canner loads of salsa, Bloody Mary mix, and pasta sauce. But in recent years, I’ve been running a small batch to freeze in cubes—the perfect size to drop into a soup, spread on a pizza crust, or simply dip into with mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pizza Sauce and Stuffed and Grilled Breadsticks

Homemade Sorbet

I started making sorbets a few years ago after tasting rhubarb–rosemary sorbet created by our local Sweet Peaks shop. I believe these purveyors of handcrafted ice creams had recently opened and were peddling their chilly concoctions from a converted horse trailer at the weekly farmer’s market. The sorbet was to die for. I immediately thought, “I can grow rosemary, and my shady property produces rhubarb all summer. I could make this!”

A bit of research revealed that I needed to make sorbet: not only does it burst with fruit flavor undiluted by dairy, but it requires no special equipment, like an ice cream maker (although if you own one, you can put it to use). A few tricks and techniques produce a silky sorbet from just about any fruit you can think of and show off herbs and other botanicals. I use two methods, depending on the featured fruit.
Learn to make Raw Fruit Sorbet and Cooked Fruit Sorbet

Fruit Syrups

Syrup. For most of us, the word brings to mind pancakes or waffles drizzled with—OK, drowning in—liquid maple sugar or its cheaper, corn syrup–based counterpart. But as you start harvesting from your garden, the word expands to endless options based on the fruits of summer and enhanced with herbs.

My love of fruit syrups grew when I learned how to extract bonus jars of the flavor-packed liquid from fruit solids intended for jam—and make jam more easily in the process. Syrups are less finicky than jelly but can still be processed for long-term storage or simply stashed in the fridge. Traditionally made from boiled fruit that’s been strained to separate its juice, I’ve found a cold method separates the juice even more effectively from almost any fruit and a roasted method gives an extra boost of flavor.
Learn to roast and freeze fruit for syrup