Summer foraging is over, the pickles are made, tomatoes roasted and canned. Now all those berries I picked while it was too hot to cook have to go into pots for jam.
This year was my first for pickling – starting with late season ramps in June. The greens die back but the bulbs are at their biggest, if you can find them.
The French cucumber seeds I ordered yield little cukes, perfect when picked small for classic cornichon pickles.
A few cucumbers always managed to evade my search, growing too large for pickling but great for salads. I had only six plants survive to maturity, not enough to yield a jar a day. I did learn to wash them and wrap in a thick cotton towel in the fridge to keep them crisp enough until I had a full batch. Next year I’ll triple my plantings and make sure each of them has a protective ring around the base to the seedlings.
In our garden it was a very good year for tomatoes. Loads went in the oven for roasting – very few of which were really sauce tomatoes. Roasting slicing tomatoes produces a lot of juice and dramatically little sauce. To roast, I tossed in fresh herbs, garlic, spicy peppers, set to 325 for an hour or until soft, then pureed them for freezing. All winter they will be a base for soups, sauces, or cook on the stove to reduce the juices and serve as is.
Though the blasting heat burned up all the wold black raspberries, summer offered up a lot of magnificent harvesting days, days with friends, days in quiet communion with nature, and one big weekend out at Victory View Vineyard in Easton, helping them pick three of their wine varietal. The company, the easy rhythms of picking and conversations, great lunches and wine to take home – that weekend merits a much longer description. Plan to join the harvest next year and find out for yourself. They sent me home with grapes, two reds, Marshall Foch and Marquette, and one white, La Crescent for jellies. The juice smells sweet, intensely grape. The weekend’s cool rainy weather will be perfect for warming up the kitchen with jams and jellies for canning.