Friday, October 15, 2021

Pear Bread

This recipe is a great way to used dehydrated pears.  

Soak 1 cup of chopped dried pears in 1 cup to water for 30 minutes.  When you drain the liquid off reserve 1/4 cup of liquid.

3 Tbs of softened butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup of water used in re-hydrating the pears

In a separate bowl:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Gradually add the creamed mixture to the dry ingredients.  Stir in the re-hydrated pears and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts.

Pour into a greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35- 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.  Make the glaze and pour over bread.

2 Tbs melted butter
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs apricot nectar or orange juice
1 tsp powdered dried orange peel
1 cup of powdered sugar

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Dehydrated Pears: A Sweet Snack

Dehydrated fruits are a delicious snack you can make at home.  Pears from your organic orchard  are nutritious and easily enjoyed throughout the season when dehydrated.  There are three principles to consider when dehydrating.
  1.  Heat:  The temperature needs to be controlled and  high enough to force moisture out of the fruit.
  2. Dry Air:  Needed to absorb the moisture released from the food
  3. Air Circulation:  to move the moisture away
When food is properly dehydrated 80-95% if the moisture will be removed from the food.

Methods of dehydrating:

Sun Drying or Room Drying:  This method requires warm days of around 90 degrees, low humidity, a means to control insects, and clean air.

Oven drying:  Because of energy costs, this is only a good options for small batches

Commercial  Dehydrators:   The dehydrators provide the most consistent and reliable results.  The fruit dries evenly, quickly, and the quality is excellent with this method.

Always Start Fresh

You want to use fresh, high quality fruit.  That is the benefit of having a home orchard.  Pears are relatively easy fruit to grow. They are very productive and tend to bloom late enough to miss early frosts.  I have one Bartlet pear and a Packman pear.  The Bartlet's are my favorite.  One tree gives our family plenty of pears for eating, canning, and drying. 

Pretreating the Fruit

Dipping pears 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.

Preparing the Pears

Any variety of pears can be used.  Wash the pears.  I like to slice the pears into quarters, then core and peel each quarter. Cut into 1/2 slices You can use a apple corer and slicer.  I think it leaves the pieces too small and prefer to do it by hand.  Place the sliced pears in the pretreatment.  Every 10 minutes remove the pears from the pretreatment and place on trays. Individual fruit pieces should not be touching each other so air can circulate.

Dry pears at 130 to 135 degrees until leathery. 

Because it is difficult to slice evenly, be sure to check for doneness frequently and remove any fruit that is done.


Store the dried pears in an airtight container and away from light.  You can put an oxygen absorber packet in for longer storage.  I like to use gallon size mason jars.

Vaccum pack some  for longer storage life.  In some cases it can extend the shelf life 3-5 times longer.

Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place these delicious snacks will store for 1 year.  Don't count on them lasting that long!


Monday, October 11, 2021

Storing Pumpkins & Winter Squash


Winter Squash & Pumpkins

Winter squash which includes pumpkins are an excellent storage crop.  They will keep 2-3 months with very little preparations.  Start by picking and storing mature squash before a frost  

The squash is mature if the skin cannot be pierced by you fingernail or the skin resists being scratched by your fingernails.  Cut the stems 2-4 inches long.  Pumpkins and squash do not store well without stems.  The except to this is the hubbard type squash which should be stored without the stem.

Curing squash

During the curing process, moisture is lost and the skins harden. All squash undergo a natural curing process when stored. Artificial curing is not necessary for mature squash stored in good conditions. 

Nearly mature squash, except acorn squash, do benefit from curing.  Holding squash and pumpkins at a favorable temperature encourages healing of cuts and scratches and forms a corky layer over cuts and the cut end of the stem.

Cure pumpkin and squash at temperatures of 80-85 degrees F at 80-85% humidity.  A small heated cabinet or a corner of the garage with a thermostatically controlled heater and a fan to circulate heat works well.

Acorn squash
 should not be cured and likes lower temperatures than other squash. They prefer temperatures of 45-55 degrees anything over that and they become stringy and dry.  A green skinned acorn squash should stay green.  There are orange and white skinned varieties.  The white skinned do not store as well and should be eaten first.  

Storing Squash

Squash do not like temperatures below 50 degrees. Ideal temperature for storage is 50-55 degrees F.  They can be stored in a side room, basement, or a pantry that is not too warm.

Pumpkin are treated just like squash but do not store as long.  When storing both squash and pumpkins do not pile them but leave space between and do not store them on a concrete floor.

Keep the pumpkins and squash dry to discourage mold and fungus. Air circulation will help with this.

Do not store near apples or pears which emit ethylene gas which causes yellowing of squash.

Discard any squash that shows signs of decay.

Hard-shelled winter squash storage times

Table Queen (acorn type)                             1-2 months

Butternut                                                            2-3 months

Hubbard types                                              3-6 months

Banana                                                          3-6 months                                                     

Buttercup (turban type)                                 3-6 months

Sweet Meat                                                    4-6 months


Jack O’Lantern type                                      2-3 months

Pie Pumpkins                                                2-3 months

Occasionally a hard frost means you have many very immature winter squash and pumpkins.  Once they are picked thy will not continue to ripen but can be used for decorating for Halloween and the fall season.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Ripening Green Tomatoes Indoors

As mornings get chillier and the days get shorter, the demise of the summer garden is inevitable. As you harvest and prepare root crops, fruits, and winter squash for winter storage don't give up on the tomato.  The first frost does not need to end your tomato season!  Mature green tomatoes can be ripened indoors.

Some basic knowledge of you planting zone is helpful.  Do you know your average first frost day? The average first frost date is the average date at which a light freeze may occur.  There is a 50% chance it will occur before the date or after the date.  

Light Freeze:  29-32 degrees, tender plants killed

Moderate Freeze:  24-28,  widely destructive to most plants

Hard Freeze:  24 and colder with heavy damage

Look up your average spring and fall frost dates here:

 In New Harmony the average first frost is October 9th.  So when October comes you need to watch the weather to be prepared to bring in mature green tomatoes before a freeze.  As daytime temperatures fall below 60 degrees, tomatoes are less likely to ripen on the vine. You can pick green tomatoes at this point and bring them indoors to ripen and remove your tomato plants from the garden or wait until a frost is predicted.

Picking Green Tomatoes

The best tomatoes for ripening indoors come from young plants still in their prime not older worn out plants that have been bearing all season.

Most gardeners have volunteer tomato plants that spring up in random places in the garden which are perfect for producing green tomatoes late in the season.  

Before a frost gather your mature green tomatoes.  Do not bother with the small whitish colored tomatoes, they will not ripen.  Pick only the mature green or riper tomatoes.  A mature green tomato is well developed, shiny, and medium or deep green.  Pick without stems. (Root Cellaring)

Most importantly pick before frost because frost damage can prevent proper ripening.  Interestingly, tomatoes that have some color are less sensitive to low temperatures.

Bring the tomatoes inside and sort them. Separate riper ones from green tomatoes.  

Keep some out to ripen right away.  Green tomatoes ripen quickly at room temperatures.  Spread them out single layer out of direct light in a room with temperature between 60-70 degrees.  A mature green tomato will ripen at room temperature in about 2 weeks.  If the tomatoes are already starting to turn then they will ripen faster.

You can wrap them individually in paper, place them in a box in the pantry,  or keep them in a drawer to protect them from direct light.

To keep some tomatoes to ripen later, store them at temperatures of  55- 60 degrees to keep them on hold.  Bring a few fruits at a time into warmer room temperatures to gradually ripen and enjoy throughout the fall. (Root Cellaring)

As tomatoes ripen they produce a gas called ethylene.  Bananas and apples also produce this gas. This gas actually promotes ripening.  

To quicken the ripening process you can place a few tomatoes in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana with green still on the tips.  

Another way to save some of those tomatoes for later in the season is to pull up the whole vine and hang it in a garage or shed.  The remaining leaves and stem will continue to nourish the fruit.  Be sure to hang where there is good air circulation and do not pull them up wet or they may just rot.

A great resource for preserving your harvest into winter is found in the book Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel. 

Hopefully you will be able to continue enjoying garden fresh tomatoes an extra 4-6 weeks after a frost.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

When to Pick Pears

“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


 A ripe pear is a sweet, juicy treat, but it is often difficult for the grower to determine when the time is right to harvest your pears.  Unlike other fruit, pears do not ripen on the tree.   If left on the tree too long or picked too early, they either remain rock hard or turn gritty and mushy.  Pears ripen from the inside out so by the time the outside is ripe the inside is mushy and mealy.  


Types of Pears


 European pears include fall and winter pears.  Fall pears do not need a storage period before they are ready to use, and winter pears will not mature properly unless they are given a resting period in cold storage immediately after picking. The fall pears are earlier ripening varieties such as Bartlett, Clapp Favorite, and Orcas, while those that ripen later, such as Bosc, Comice, and Highland, are winter pears.


When To Pick a Pear


The key to picking pears is doing so when they are mature but not fully ripe. Look up the maturity date for your pear variety and begin checking your tree regularly before this date. The pear will be green and feel very firm when it is mature.  Tip the pear to the horizontal position and if mature it will easily break away.  If it clings it is not mature.  You should not have to tug and pull your pears off.


It is helpful to write on a calendar when you picked your pears and begin check for maturity one or two weeks prior to that.


Allowing Pears To Ripen


After picking, fall pears can be kept at room temperature until ready to eat.  They are ready to eat when yellow color develops and the fruit begins to soften. Fall pears can be stored but usually do not keep for very long. Storing in a refrigerator or cool dark place is helpful in extending storage life.  Fall pears are best used for canning and drying. 


Winter pears should be put into some kind of cold storage (below 40°F, down to 33°F) for  least 3-4 weeks. You can start to bring out fruit as needed to soften up at room temperature on the counter. 


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

October Garden & Yard Chores

In most zones October is the grand finale for the garden.  Whether you are seeking to extend the season or accelerate the final days of your garden, there are some important garden chores for early fall that will help ensure a better season next year.

Garden Chores & Harvesting:
  • Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and squash are going strong.  Continue to harvest.
  • Watermelon, muskmelons, pumpkins, and winter squash  will continue maturing don't neglect the watering.
  • Harvests of corn and green beans are coming to a close
  • Keep harvesting all root crops, broccoli side shoots, and cabbage with cooler evenings these crops sweeten up

  • Beans grown for dried beans are still maturing
  • Dig potatoes

  • When onion tops fall over, harvest the bulb.  Let it cure in a dry, warm, well ventilated place in the shade.  Under a porch on a table works well
  • Continue harvesting root crops of beets and carrots
  • Order garlic bulbs to plant in mid October 

  • Tomatoes are still ripening.  
  • Strawberries and raspberries are still producing until a freeze.

The Year Round Garden:
  • Prepare low tunnels or cold frames
  • Plant spinach, kale, and lettuce in the cold frame.  I prefer to start lettuce indoors and transplant out side
  • Put out transplants of broccoli

Clean Up:
  • After harvesting is complete, clean out bed and spread a layer of compost over the bed or row.
  • Or plant a cover crop or green manure.  A green manure is a crop grown early spring or late summer which is incorporated into the soil to add organic matter and fertility.  Good fall cover crops are buckwheat, which matures fast and will winter kill before it goes to seed, or Austrian peas which is a winter legume for warm climates.  Both crops would be incorporated into the soil 4 weeks before you plan on planting in early spring.
  • Clean up all plant debris especially diseased plants 
  • If any areas of your garden or landscape continually struggle and do poorly gather a soil sample and have it tested.  Contact the extension office to do this.

Wage War on Weeds!

While your garden beds and flowers may be looking a bit tired, weeds seem to come on strong this time of year.  Like flowers, weeds can be annuals, biennials, or perennials.  Annual weeds are the easiest to control.  They have a one year life cycle.  Summer annuals sprout in the spring and go to seed in the fall.  Crabgrass, foxtail, pigweed,spurge, and lambsquarter are summer annuals that plague the vegatable gardener the most.  Hand pulling weeds in garden beds before they go to seed is extremely important. 

"One years seeds equals seven years of weeds"

If you struggle with a specific weed problem here is a link to look up cultural practices that may with help control the weed.  Nothing beats hand pulling and hoeing.

Saving Seeds:
  • Pick the seedpods and heads of any open pollinated flowers
  • Learn to save tomato seeds
  • Seeds from lettuce, beans, and peas that are open pollinated can be saved with little cross pollination

In the flower garden:

  • Set out pansies, mums, and ornamental kale for fall color
  • Plant spring blooming bulbs in flower beds
  • Sow seed of next year's biennial flowers that need a cold winter to break dormancy such as forget-me-nots, sweet William, and foxglove.
  •  You still can plant perennials in early fall.  

Fall Orchard Care:
  • Keep all fallen fruit picked up.  Pigs or chickens enjoy this fruit
  • Maintain spray for codling moth until harvest
  • Mow understory
  • Apply compost
  • When 50-60% of leaves have fallen spray with fish with and neem.  Target the ground, trunk, and branches.  This is important for leaf decomposition. 
  • Remove any limb spreaders
  • Install tree guards on young trees
  • White wash trunk to prevent winter sun scald injury.  Use interior cheap latex paint mixed with water you can add  little neem oil.  Paint trunks and bottom of lower scaffold branches. 
  • Pick apples and pears as they are ripe
Gala apples.  The white film is kaolin clay which is an insect deterrent.

Sungold apples

Enjoy the early fall season and the harvests you have been blessed with. 

Root Crop Recipes

 Roasted Vegetables

Cube any of the following vegetables you have available to you.

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots (it's fun to use orange, red, and purple varieties.  Dragon's Tongue is a favorite that is purple all the way through)
  • Beets both red and golden 
  • Quarter an onion
You can also add mushrooms, rutabagas, cabbage, or peppers if you like

Oil (Olive, avocado, or grape-seed oil)
garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, or your favorite herb combo

Pour over the vegetables, stir, and dump into a sheet cake pan.  Top with Parmesan cheese towards the end of roasting.  Roast at 425 until tender.  It takes around 45 minutes.  I love this dish.  You can be creative with the seasonings and vegetables you use. One of my favorite side dishes and everything is from the garden.

Purple Viking potatoes, Golden beets,  red beets, Dragon Tongue purple carrots, and orange carrots. Such a colorful dish.

Rutabaga Souffle

2 cups cubed rutabaga
1/2 tsp sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
Buttered breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
  • Boil rutabagas and sugar in a saucepan until tender.  Drain and mash rutabagas.
  •  Beat egg yolks and add to rutabaga with salt, pepper and sour cream
  • Beat the egg yolks and add to the mixture
  • Put in a buttered casserole dish. 
  • Top with buttered breadcrumbs
  • Bake at 350 F for  30 minutes
Recipe from Capper's Farmer Magazine

Cheese Carrots

20 carrots sliced
1 small grated onion
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup of flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 cups milk
1/2 lb American cheese, sliced
1 cup breadcrumbs

  • Cook carrots in a saucepan until fork tender
  • Saute onion in butter
  • Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and celery salt stirring until thickened
  • Arrange layer of carrots and cheese slices in a casserole dish
  • Pour sauce over the top
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs
  • Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes
Recipe from  Capper's Farmer Magazine 

Glazed Carrots

Carrots, Julian cut
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 sugar

  • Melt butter in a saucepan
  • Add water and sugar
  • Add carrots
  • Bring to boil reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender
This is a family favorite! Love, love theses!

  To learn how to grow and harvest root crops check out the link below.

Monday, October 4, 2021

How To Store Potatoes

Fall is my favorite season.  It means harvesting, canning, and holidays. Many of the crops harvested in fall can be stored and enjoyed for months to come.  Apples, winter squash, pumpkins, roots crops, cabbage, and potatoes can all be stored and eaten "fresh" when the garden is long gone and winter has set in.


  I love the smell of the fresh turned soil as you harvest potatoes.   Your potato harvest can be enjoyed well into the winter with careful planning, planting the right varieties, and correct storage.


Not all potatoes are storage potatoes.  Late season potatoes have the best storage potential. Early harvested potatoes will last 4-6 weeks, but under proper conditions late season potatoes can store from 4-6 months.  Darkness, cold, and humidity are the keys.

Good options for storage potatoes:  Kennebec, Katahdin, Carola, Red La Soda, Sebago,and Yukon Gold

Red and purple potatoes which have thin skins are not very good storage options.

La Soda


Potatoes can be planted early spring as soon as the soil can be worked; however, a late spring planting which is harvested in early fall is ideal for potatoes you plan on storing.  Make 2 plantings and enjoy potatoes longer.  Be sure to use certified disease free seed potatoes.



I like to harvest as late as possible which for me is late October early November.  You can harvest whenever the tops die back and dry up.  Provided you do not have an extremely wet season, you can leave the tubers in the ground up to six weeks.  If the potatoes are partially exposed cover them with soil to prevent greening.

Potatoes should be cured before storing this toughens up the skins and allows small nicks to heal.  Dig the potatoes and lightly brush the dirt off.  Do NOT wash.  Spread them out under a porch where temperatures are around 60 to 75 F.  Protect from sun and wind while curing.

After 2 weeks they are ready for storage.  

Purple Viking, my favorite potato


Ideal conditions are cold and damp.  The perfect temperature is 35-45 F with high humidity around 80-90%.  

If potatoes are stored below 35F some of the starch begins turning to sugar.  To remedy this, bring small batches of potatoes into a 70F room and in a couple weeks the sugar will revert to starch.  (Root Cellaring, Mike and Nancy Bubel)

If temperatures are too warm sprouting and shriveling will occur.

Sort and remove any diseased or damaged potatoes. Those can be used first. Choose only the best to store long term.  Find a container that allows for good ventilation such as root cellar bins, cardboard boxes with slits cut in them, or bushel baskets.

Cover with burlap to prevent light from turning the potatoes green. The burlap allows for ventilation.


The ideal spot would be a root cellar.  Other options will depend on the climate where you live.  A basement, window well, garage, or extra refrigerator may all be options.

A hygrometer measures humidity.  Too increase humidity in a refrigerator soak a sponge, wring it out, and put it in the fridge.  In a root cellar the gravel floor is sprinkled with water.  Other storage areas such as a garage or basement will be difficult to control humidity.

Periodically check the potatoes and remove any rotting ones.

Don't forget to get your potato orders in early.  Many of the varieties I mentioned sell out soon.