We were set to have our first hard frost this weekend, so most of the plants in the garden had to have a last hurrah. I picked all the green tomatoes and hot peppers.
Anything red was processed and frozen, either as spaghetti sauce or as chopped peeled tomatoes to use for cooking another time.
Anything unripe and green went was invited to party in the piccalilli pot.
Piccalilli is basically a sweet and sour relish made with whatever’s left in the garden at the end of the season. (See here for the ancestral recipe.) The veggies are ground finely and cooked down a bit with vinegar, salt, sugar and pickling spices. I usually make some every fall, mostly to give as Christmas gifts. This year I went overboard.
I don’t know what I was thinking. It didn’t seem like so much, and yet it kept coming and coming… Altogether I think it was 30 pints, but I admit I lost count. The good news is that I won’t have to make any next year if I don’t feel like it.
I also have results of my tomato roulette experiment. At the end of the season, I decided that these tomato varieties worked best, so I will plan on planting them next year:
- Fourth of July – An early variety, not quite ready to harvest at July 4th, but a week or two later (still pretty good in my book). Each plant produced at least 100 billiard-ball-sized tomatoes of 1.5 to 2 ounces. The flavor was a bit acidic with a sweet finish, and the tomatoes have a good texture – not too wet, not too dry. The skins that were neither tough nor delicate – a nice balance that made for easy picking and storage.
- Brandy Boy – Has a similar flavor to the heirloom favorite Brandywine, but the skin is not as delicate, so it’s less likely to crack and get moldy. The plant produced twice as much fruit as the Brandywine, at about the same size – 8 ounces to over a pound. The fruit was ready to harvest two weeks earlier. A great win! I’ll plant this instead of Brandywine from now on.
My husband and I differed these two: Big Beef and Big Boy. Big Beef was ready to harvest a week before Big Boy and the tomatoes were all about a pound – one slice covers your whole sandwich! Big Boy’s size varied from a half-pound to a pound. Big Boy showed some wilt about halfway through the season, while Big Beef didn’t. Both kept producing until late September, but we got a few more Big Boys. Both were very sweet – everything you’d expect from a summer tomato. But Big Boy was rather wet and seedy, while Big Beef was meatier but drier. I liked Big Boy’s texture better, but the hubs preferred Big Beef. I suppose I will plant them both next year.
These two were total flops:
- Better Boy: Very poor producer, and what we got was mealy and malformed. Pass!
- Yellow Pear: Very pretty to look at and a heavy producer, but totally flavorless and dry. Even cooked they were no good. Pass!
I am already looking forward to next season!