Winding Down the Season

Techniques that rely on freezing, dry storing, and dehydrating let you quickly save the garden’s last fruit and vegetables. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
This September, we’ve been lucky to have fairly warm days and nights in Montana, with just a couple of hints at a killing frost that we were able to protect against temporarily. But the garden is still winding down. In the main garden, I’m finding fewer cucumbers and snap beans, with vines starting to dry and lose leaves. In the greenhouse, tomatoes and tomatillos are putting all of their energy into ripening existing fruit. It’s time to grab the last of the garden’s treats and stash it all away for winter.

This week, in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, I share some of my favorite storage techniques for a range of vegetables. The article focuses on easy ways to save individual vegetables without needing to can or ferment them or changing their base flavor into a pickle or sauce. The techniques rely on freezing, dry storing, and dehydrating and can be done quickly with minimal prep.
Learn about winding down the season

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Last Bites

A portion of my end-of-season harvest lands in my favorite fresh meals. Get the recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
It’s that time: Time to savor the last fresh bites from the garden. With the first new moon of October, I begin closely watching the forecasted nighttime temperatures. One clear night is all it takes to zap the remaining outdoor vegetables and threaten even the greenhouse goodies. Even though local weather stations recorded 79°F on Tuesday, I could be frantically harvesting before a potential freeze tomorrow night.

Fall’s weather swings are always unexpected, and every year I try—and fail—to time each plant’s final harvest just right. Instead of bemoaning the last round of beans that froze on the vine, I look instead to the boxes of produce all over my little cabin, ripening and waiting to be eaten and preserved.
Read more about enjoying the garden’s last bites

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

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