Rhubarb

I grew up in a rhubarb family: large patches growing in my dad’s and grandpa’s gardens, rhubarb pie at Thanksgiving (never diluted with strawberries), and a stash of rhubarb sauce in my mom’s fridge that I put on everything from ice cream to Cheerios. Among the first things I planted when I moved to Montana were rhubarb eyes taken from my dad’s plants; they’ve since spread out into a garden patch that produces all summer long and never bolts—one of the few perks of gardening in the shady woods.

After a winter of playing with various combinations of produce-influenced cocktails that put a splash of summer into the grayest day, I instantly saw “beverage” when I cut my first stalks of rhubarb in spring. The straight rhubarb needed another flavor to balance the bright pink syrup, and I knew from making sorbet that rosemary would add just the right touch in a summer cocktail. Learn to make Rhubarb–Rosemary Syrup and Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade

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Cherry Tomatoes

In the shortest days of winter, I crave the freshest produce. Forget sweets or chips—I yearn for cherry tomatoes, raspberries, and other garden goodies. I suppose the desire for sun-kissed fruit and veg as the snow falls is the main reason this blog exists: Every summer, I play with new and better ways to preserve homegrown produce that we can eat year-round. This blog is all about sharing those ideas with you.

I use “cherry” to describe many tiny tomatoes: Sweet 100s, Sun Golds, Black Cherry, my favorite Yellow Pear. We go big, growing a mix of cultivars to eat like candy off the vine and turn into a pasta sauce easily recreated from frozen toms in the coldest months. These bite-sized bursts of flavor are so simple to save for winter, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done so. Learn to freeze cherry tomatoes and make Pasta That Pops

Herbs

Herbs are a great place to start when it comes to dehydrating—and gardening. Perennial herbs need little care once established and come back reliably in their beds year after year. Some annual and biennial herbs are self-seeding, making them seem perennial when they sprout unaided each spring. Those that need to be resown annually are often happy in pots or even on a sunny windowsill in even the smallest space tended by the newest gardener.

Most herbs get a production boost from regular cutting. Such plants quickly send out new shoots, becoming bushier and healthier the more that they are used. Hang some of those cuttings or throw them on a dehydrator tray, and you’ll never buy another jar of dried leaves. You can store them separately or combine them into a grab-and-go mix. Learn to dry herbs and make Italian Seasoning Blend