Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How To Cook Green Beans: Roasted Green Beans & Lemon Chiffon Sauce

Green beans can be prepared in a variety of ways.  The method you choose in cooking your green beans should be based on the age and thickness of the bean.

Super fresh green beans about the thickness of a pencil are best boiled and dressed with a vinaigrette or sauce.  With older thicker beans, consider roasting them.  Roasting infuses and concentrates the flavor of older beans while the fresh sweet flavor of younger beans is preserved best by boiling.
Slenderett, Royal Burgundy (H), and Pencil Pod (H)

Types of Beans
Green beans are eaten young while the seeds are immature.  Yellow wax beans and purple beans are cooked and prepared just like green beans.  They are best eaten fresh when the thickness of a pencil.  

Haricots verts which is French for green bean are a delicate bean often used as a fillet bean.  They are best boiled or blanched but require a shorter cooking time. They are a gourmet bean worth growing.

The old fashioned string bean had to be stringed before cooking.  With so many choices of stringless beans I do not see a reason to grow a string bean.  The stringless beans only need the tips snapped off and they are ready to cook.


Below are just a couple of our families favorite green bean recipes.   

Roasted Green Beans

This is a great recipe for the less than prime green beans that are produced late in the season.  Older, thicker green beans seem to have less flavor and the roasting seems to intensify the flavor.  Any of your favorite combinations of herbs can be used.  

2-3 Tbs of olive oil
2 fresh garlic cloves minced
1 Tbs. fresh minced ginger root
Fresh ground pepper
1 lb of green beans with end snapped off

Mix the oil, garlic, ginger root, salt, and pepper in a boil.  Spread the beans on a shallow tray and drizzle and baste with all the oil mixture. Roast at 450.  Turn the beans once.  Roast until lightly browned approximately 15 minutes.

Green Beans & Lemon Chiffon Sauce
 (Taste of Home June/July 2007)
My family loves these beans. The sauce is also good on broccoli.

1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans with ends trimmed
1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 cup of chicken broth
3 beaten egg yolks
1/8 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup of butter, cubed
2 tsp fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped green onion

Place beans in water, bring to a boil, and cook until tender crisp.  In a small saucepan whisk the cornstarch, broth, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice.

Cook stirring constantly over low heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles around the edges.

Add butter, a little at a time, whisk to help melt.  Stir in the parsley and onions.  Drain the beans and top with this delicious citrus sauce.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sweet Corn

Roasted and slathered in butter and herbs, nothing says summer more than sweet corn on the cob. Because corn is in the Gramineae family which includes grains and grasses, there are a few cultural practices to keep in mind when planting this crop.

Planting Sweet Corn: Corn needs full sun and good fertile soil.  It is a heavy feeder especially of nitrogen.  It has relatively shallow roots for a tall plant so it is sensitive to moisture fluctuations.  Since corn is wind pollinated it needs special consideration when spacing the plantings. Corn needs to be planted in blocks or 3 rows double planted to ensure good pollination and ear development.  It can be planted 2 weeks after the last frost of your area when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees.  A second and third planting can be made on Mother's Day and Memorial Day.  Always direct seed corn into the garden.

Jubilee sweet corn

Silver Queen sweet corn

Varieties of Sweet Corn

Hybrid sweet corn is planted most by the home gardener. Most people love the high sugar content of these corns. On the seed packet or in the seed catalogs sweet corns are one of 3 types SU standard sugary, SE sugary enhanced, or SH2 super sweet corn.  There are differences in these corns and choosing what will grow in your planting will result in success. 

SU Standard Sugary:  Lower sugar content.  Germinates in cooler soils. Easy to grow with good germination rates.  My favorite is Silver Queen with its white kernels, two to three ears on 7 ft stalks. Jubilee is a yellow corn with 2 ears on 7 ft stalks. Both are good fresh eating and freezing varieties.  These two varieties have proven productive and reliable in my garden They need 80- 92 days to mature and you need to stagger the planting so they don't cross pollinate.

SE Sugary Enhanced:  Higher sugar content, Maintains quality longer after harvested.  Good fresh eating and frozen.  Double Delicious

SH2 Super Sweet Corn:  Poor germination, extra sweet, Isolation required from SE and SU types.

Field Corns are dominate so if you are near a huge commercial field you will have to plant, if possible, so your corn does not tassel at the same time as the field corn.

Other types of corn:

Don't limit yourself to just sweet corn.  There are open pollinated, dent, flint, and popcorns.  Sweet corn is eaten in the immature milky stage while other corns are allowed to mature on the stalk until dried and used as a grain to grind into corn meal, animal feed, or popped.

Open pollinated:  If you prefer the old fashioned flavor of corn without the sweetness this is a good choice. One choice that is easy to find is Golden Bantam

Flint Corn:  Flint corn is also known as Indian corn.  There are colorful ornamental cultivars and those that can be used as polenta or ground into cornmeal.  Some varieties I have tried are Bloody Butcher, Hopi Blue, and Polenta
Polenta corn a flint corn

Popcorn:  Technically popcorn is a flint corn that is the best option for popping.  So you are not disappointed movie popcorn is the snowball type and pops bigger than mushroom type popcorns.  There are lots of fun popcorns to try in a variety of colors.  They are actually becoming popular as a gourmet treat.

Dent Corn:  As dent corn dries, a dent is formed in the top of the kernel.  Dent corns are used as animal feed, for corn syrup, and used to make biodegradable plastics.  This probably isn't the choice for the home gardener but and option if you have livestock.
Squash is a good companion with corn.
The tassel which produces the pollen.


Before planting  you need to understand how corn is pollinated.  All corn varieties are wind pollinated and will cross pollinate.  Pollen is produced by the tassel of the corn which is the male part.  A good healthy corn will produce one or more ears along the stalk of the corn.  This is the female part and includes the ear and the emerging silks.  The pollen must go from the tassel to the silk.  This is accomplished with the help of the wind.  Each pollinated silk becomes a kernel on the ear of corn.
The silks of the ear.  Each individually pollinated silk
becomes a kernel on the cob.

Corn pollen is extremely light and can be carried long distances by the wind.  As I mentioned all corn will cross pollinate.  If your corn is tasseling at the same time as your neighbors or a commercial field then chances are there will be cross pollination.

Concerning your neighbor who is probably planting sweet corn. If cross pollination occurs eating quality is affected.  If SU, SE, SU2 are planted together and tassel at the same time they will cross pollinate..  SE and sh2 types are recessive to su types.  Field corn, Indian, and popcorn are dominant.  If planting more than one variety they must have different maturity dates and tasseling times.

Watering and Fertilizing

Sweet corn requires regular consistent watering.  Watering is critical during tasseling, silk development, and ear formation.  Water stress results in stunted growth and poor flavor.

Work a dry fertilizer and compost into the soil before planting. Corn is a heavy feeder. Side dress corn when it is a foot tall with bone meal.  Side dress again when the silks appear.  Also fertilize with fish emulsion at these times.  Mulch when plant are young to keep the wind from drying the soil out.

Corn Earworms

Spinosad and Neem are effective against Corn Earworms.  Female moths lay eggs on tips of corn silks.  The larvae feed off the silks and move on down eating kernels.  They emerge and then pupate in the soil.  You can have 1-4 generations of these lovely creatures. The critical time to spray is when the silks begin to dry.  Focus the spray on the tips of corn and around the base of the corn.


Aphids can also be a problem.  An aphid infestation will result in lots of honey dew and can encourage the growth of black mold. The honeydew will attract wasps. While this rarely affects the quality of the corn because it is protected by a tight husk, it weakens the corn and is not pleasant to work around. 

Spinosad and Neem Oil are effective for both of these problems.

Ready to harvest with dry silks, tilted stock and plumb.


Harvest when the ears are plump, silks are dry, and ears tips out.  Enjoy! Sweet corn does not store well in the field.  It does not store long after it has been harvested.  The sugars turn to starch and that great sweet corn  flavor is lost. 

I remove the remaining stalk and some husks and keep it in the refrigerator but don't leave it there long.  Enjoy it fresh. 

To extend the season, I suggest planting two varieties and staggering the plantings so you can enjoy fresh corn longer.  The two varieties I like are Silver Queen and Jubilee.  Both are great for eating fresh and they both process well.  You can freeze corn on the cob or can it in a pressure canner.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Dehydrating To Preserve the Harvest

Dwarfed Blue Curled Kale dried and blended to a  powder is great to add to smoothies

The dehydrator is running almost every day during this time of year. It's a great way to preserve fruits, vegetables, and herbs.   Herbs I pick in the morning, rinse, and pat dry.  I put them in the dehydrator at the lowest setting. You can store them in ziploc bags or canning jars. I remove the leaves from the stems after they are dried.


Winter Savory

Dried Strawberries are a favorite snack.

The strawberries are sliced into a solution of water and lemon juice 4:1.  You can also use lime juice or pineapple juice.  Fruits I dry at 130 - 135 degrees.  I rotates the trays throughout the process.  When done they should still be pliable.  Dehydrated strawberries are irresistible!

The finished product.  It's best to take the fruit off trays right when you turn off the dehydrator to prevent sticking.

Store in an air tight container.

Pretreating Fruit

Dipping fruit in a pretreatment prevents them from oxidizing.  The fruit will brown, lose some Vitamin A and Vitamin C during oxidization.  Lemon juice makes an excellent natural pretreatment.

Use 1 cup of lemon juice to one quart of water

It is best to not leave the fruit in the dip for more than 10 minutes.

Always use high quality produce picked when ripe.

Dried white peaches, principe tomatoes, and pears

Fun Dehydrated Products:

Zucchini and kale can be dried into chips. Season with your favorite spices. 

Dried pears are amazing! 

White fleshed peaches are amazing dried. They are to soft to can.

Dried peaches

Apple rings.  Try dipping one side in cinnamon and sugar before drying.

Spinach and kale can be dried and then powdered to add to smoothies

Peppers can be dried and blended until powdered and used to make you own chili powder.

Fruit leather. I add applesauce to sweeten. It also helps with the consistency and makes a better product.

Dry flowers for decorating projects.

Dried Tomatoes

These are wonderful to add to a homemade or frozen pizza.  Slice any tomato and sprinkle with a small amount of brown sugar, basil and oregano.  Using colorful heirlooms makes these simply gorgeous.

Add caption

Monday, July 30, 2018

Blackberry, Strawberry, Raspberry & Spicy Applesauce!

Add some variety to your applesauce.  You can mix  berries, peaches, or apricots into your applesauce for added variety.  You'll definitely have a hard time keeping these on the pantry shelves.  I've included my favorite applesauce recipe which is good with nothing but apples, and then I've included recipes for some berry sauce and a family favorite, Spicy Applesauce.  I did a batch of strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry applesauce because those are the berries I grow and had ready to harvest or else in the freezer.  Gala Apples make a delicious sauce because they are already so sweet.  The Gala apples are from our orchard and are organically grown.  

Basic Applesauce Recipe  (Makes 3 quarts)

7 lbs of apples
2 cups of apple juice
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice

Berry Applesauce

1 Quart of berries  (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, or blueberries)

You can add as much as you like.  Just start with a quart and do the taste test.  If you add the berries, then use 1  full cup of sugar.  If I'm making plain applesauce or Spicy Applesauce I use 1/2 a cup or less of sugar depending on how sweet your apples are.  Or you can eliminate the sugar altogether. 

Spicy Applesauce

7 lbs of apples
2 cups of apple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 Tbs lemon juice

No worms in my organically grown Gala apples!  Love Spinosad!

Slice and weigh the apples.  7 pounds can be steamed in a large sauce pot at a time.

Sliced and weighed apples are added to apple juice and sugar mixture.  Boil and simmer until apples soften.

Add the sugar to the apple juice and heat till dissolved in a large sauce pot.  Slice your apples and weigh them.  You will add 7 lbs to the juice and sugar mixture.  Bring to a boil and let apples simmer until soft.  Press the apples through a sauce maker.  The sauce maker separates the pulp from the seeds and core.  There is no need to core the apples.  Make sure that you cut out any bad spots in the apples.

Softened apples ready to press through the sauce maker.

Add your berries to the softened apples 
and press them through the sauce maker.

Apples being pressed through the sauce maker

Use a large measuring cup to catch the sauce.

If you are adding berries throw them in with the softened apples before you run them through the sauce maker.  I keep a large pot to put the sauce in.  Add 2 Tbs of lemon juice.  I do two batches at a time to fill 6 quart jars.

Pour sauce into a clean large saucepan.  Add the lemon juice.  When you have enough for 6 quarts then heat till 
bubbling then fill jars.

Strawberry Applesauce

After you have enough for 6 quarts reheat the applesauce until it starts to bubble. Add the cinnamon and brown sugar at this time if you are making Spicy Applesauce.   Pour into sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rims.  Adjust 2 piece lids and place in a water bath canner.  Process for 20 minutes adding another 10 minutes for altitudes above 1000 feet.

Spicy Applesauce

Blackberry Applesauce

I try to store all my jars in the boxes the jars came in.   I know they look beautiful on a pantry shelf but the box gives a little protection in case you are ever hit by an earthquake. 

Be sure to remove the rings and wipe the jars before storing in case any sauce seeped out during processing.  If you do have a problem with that you are probably filling the jars a little too full.