Cabbage

I’ve been writing about enjoying and preserving green tomatoes this month, but they aren’t the only vegetables pulled from the garden as the season winds down. From the hoop house, I’m harvesting the last of the peppers. From the main garden, I’m snagging sweet carrots, a late seeding of cilantro, and the last cabbage.

After years of losing brassica crops to moths, I recently started growing cabbage again. The key is a small hoop frame straddling the bed, with ultrafine mesh netting clipped in place over the hoops and enclosed ends. Light and water can get in, but the plants stay cool and free of cabbage worms. It also means I’ve returned to making cabbage salad. The recipe I remember needed upgrades, primarily because it relied on instant noodles for crunch. I can’t recall what my mom served with the salad, but these days I’m hooked on a shrimp pairing.
Learn to make Asian Cabbage Salad and Wasabi-Marinated Shrimp

Fresh Green Tomatoes

As the growing season slows, the primary complaint I hear is “but my tomatoes are still hard and green!” The lament is loudest in northwest Montana, where our growing season is about 90 days. Tomatoes need 50–100 days to mature, so it’s easy to see why so many green fruits remain on our vines as the first frost approaches. My solution, as I explained last week, is to let most remaining tomatoes ripen indoors. But I always set some green tomatoes aside to eat fresh.

What comes to mind when you think of eating a green tomato? For many, it’s a plate of breaded and fried slices. Although Fried Green Tomatoes aren’t as Southern as you might think, they are delicious, easy to make, and suitable just about any time of day. Your mind may also turn to a Mexican salsa verde. The traditional recipes—and to my palate, the tastiest versions—are made with tomatillos, but green tomatoes are suitable stand-ins.
Learn to make Fried Green Tomatoes and Fresh Green Tomato Salsa

Herb Infusions

Salt and sugar get a bad rap for their effects on our bodies when consumed in large quantities, but their ability to act as a preservative is often underappreciated. Salt and sugar prevent spoilage and make it difficult or impossible for undesirable bacteria to grow. The rule of thumb for salt curing is that 20% salt keeps most undesirable bacteria at bay.

Although dehydrating and freezing are the most common ways to preserve herbs, the rising popularity of artesian salts and infusions has brought attention to herbs preserved in salt or sugar. The preservative pulls moisture from the herbs while keeping their flavor intact. Leaves plucked from the jar can be used as though they were fresh. The remaining herbed salt works best as the finishing touch, but infused sugar can also work within a recipe. A little of the flavored salt or sugar goes a long way, and the herbs keep a long time.
Learn to make Salt-Preserved Herbs and Herb-Infused Sugar

Freezing Herbs

If I could have only one garden, it would teem with herbs. Many of these easy-to-grow plants survive any climate or soil and are among the first shoots to appear each spring. Most are either perennials that return without fail or annuals that self-seed so readily one seed packet produces a perpetual crop. Herbs thrive on usage; the more you snip and pluck, the happier they become. Although the plants are rarely showy, a garden that contains herbs and edible flowers such as nasturtium, calendula, and viola is as delicious to look at as it is to harvest from.

Although fresh is best, herbs are easily saved for meals year-round. A little goes a long way, so even a couple of balcony pots will likely produce enough for use throughout the season. Many herb savers dehydrate their harvest, but some herbs, like chives, taste better when frozen.
Learn how to freeze chives and make Herb Butter