Storing your produce at the correct temperature and humidity is important, especially when you have abundance. Here are some suggestions:
Tomatoes* begin to deteriorate at temperatures below 50 degrees. Donít refrigerate tomatoes because this will adversely affect the taste.
Potatoes can be suppressed from rotting and sprouting by storing with sprigs of sage, lavender and rosemary. They will do best around 40 degrees and in the dark.
Winter squash needs to be picked before a frost. Dry them in sunshine if possible for a few days. Wash them with a diluted solution of water and bleach. Storage at 40 to 50 degrees is best.
Refrigerate apples as soon after picking as possible.
Refrigerate cauliflower as soon after picking as possible.
Onions need low humidity and need good air circulation.
Donít store apples or pears with onions or potatoes.
Peppers with spots of color will continue to ripen and turn color if not refrigerated. Once color has developed put in fridge.
Sweet Potatoes Store at 45-60 degrees being watchful and use quickly if homegrown as they don't hold well.
I have heard of many ways to handle green tomatoes; such as wrap each individual tomato in newspaper, store in various materials, etc., but my favorite way is to just lay them out indoors (sunshine not needed or important) on a table or counter and watch them ripen; some ripen just fine, others start to rot. You donít know which ones are going to spoil until it happens so I donít like to hide them in paper or other materials. They ripen just fine this way and I always know which ones need to be used or thrown out. Hiding them away in paper just seems to be asking for trouble. Maybe it isnít the fanciest way to handle green tomatoes but it works for us and is easy.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes are great for recipes, (soups, casseroles, salads, etc), because their flavor is so intense. They also make great snacks, low in calories but full flavored. But here in Michigan we donít have the intense sun needed for the process but an oven will give the same results. If you have a dehydrator use it instead.
You can make your own; which is great news because in the stores they sell from $5.00 to $13.00 and often don't taste very good. Your own dried tomatoes will taste much better. You need a tomato, such as a ĎRomaí or 'Juliet', that is on the dry side and meaty. We grow ĎJulietsí here at ĎRocky Gardensí, which are perfect for drying.
Directions for drying your tomatoes:
Slice meaty tomato in half and lay out on baking sheet, cut side up.
Bake in oven at 200 degrees.
The baking process will take many hours.
Check on them after several hours; tomatoes at the edges of the pan will dry more quickly, pull them off first. Put pan back in for those not done yet. You want them to be dried like a dried apricot.
Store in zip-lock bags in refrigerator for a few weeks and in the freezer for longer periods.
Infusing Herbs into Oil
Use the leaves of the herb of your choice. Blanch in boiling water for 10 seconds. Dry well on paper towels.
Mix leaves with olive oil in a blender. The intensity of the flavor desired will determine how many leaves to use. Start the blender slowly, gradually increasing the speed to high. Blend on high for 20 seconds.
Strain this emulsion into a glass bowl through a screen strainer lined with a coffee filter. Cover with plastic wrap. Drain at least 4 hours.
Use for cooking, marinades, basting sauce or dressings.
Can be kept in refrigerator for 3 weeks or in freezer for 3 months.
Infusing Herbs into Vinegar
As a general rule use 1-cup of fresh picked herbs to flavor 1-qt. of vinegar.
Loosely fill a clean glass bottle or jar with clean herbs.
Fill with vinegar to cover the herbs and cover with plastic wrap or cork. Do not use metal.
Store in cool, dark place for two to six weeks.
Strain to remove the herbs when the flavor desired is achieved.
Suggestions of herbs for infusing:
Fennel, sage, rosemary, garlic, chives, basil, tarragon
This is not a complete list, only ideas to get you started.
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