August the month of plenty

OnionsCIMG3447

Onions are really easy to grow, but if you don’t dry and store them properly you’ll end up with a net of stinking mush infested with fruit flies. Firstly gently lift them with a garden fork, being careful not to damage as much of the root ball and growth plate that attaches it to the body of the onion. Gently rub off any excess soil on the skin, and hang them up in a ventilated covered area away from rain.

If you live in a dry, hot climate you can just leave them on the soil to dry for a few days if you have hundreds, but if it gets too hot they’ll cook. Check on them every few days and gently shake off the dried earth and separate them if the stems are not withering back.

once the stems are mostly yellow and dry or if the necks seem a bit wet, it’s time to clean them up take off any dried leaves and very loose outside skin, don’t go down to fresh onion, you must have a dried outer layer for long term storage.  And don’t cut the roots too far back just far enough not to trap in moisture. We still have onions from 14 months ago that are firm and un-sprouted.

Leave them in a shallow basket somewhere airy at room temperature to dry completely. You can of course use your onions at any time before drying and they are most delicious and sweet, with very few tears. Red onions need to be kept drier for a few weeks before harvest, resist watering them if you want them to store well.CIMG7257

When the onions are dried, i.e. when all the neck is absorbed into the onion you can place them in a storage net about 10 lb at a time and hang them somewhere shaded, airy and cool but avoid frost. Check them monthly and remove any rotten ones and any showing signs of doing so, if your onions aren’t storing well then now’s the time to make our delicious caramelized onion relish, actually any time is. Tastes really great on Burgers, Hot dogs or goats cheese. 

Tomatoes

CIMG7231Hopefully you have been picking tomatoes for a while now and enjoying them in salads or just on there own from the vine with a pinch of sea salt. But around now they are reaching their peak. We have a few varieties so harvests are about 2 kilos per day. Don’t wash your tomatoes till you want to use them. The first thing we do with the glut is make a sweet chilli sauce. See recipes.

And then we dry some of them, especially the variety that is usually thick skinned and of less flavour. Place them loosely on an oven tray cut any that are large but not completely in half.  Add salt and pepper to taste drizzle with olive or rapeseed oil, a sprinkle of herbs if you want, we love them with a couple of fresh Bay leaves, not garlic as it gets too bitter,  add chillies if you want some heat.

Then place in a heated fan oven at 180 deg.C for 15-20 mins. Then turn down to 100 deg.C. For 3-4 hrs checking them hourly. When almost all the water has evaporated and they are slightly sticky, place in a sterile jar with 2 mm of olive oil on top. Keep for around a month in the fridge. Better by far than any shop bought.

Or why not make a hearty tomato, red pepper and butternut squash soup, remember to sweat the veg. in butter or olive oil first for 10 mins. season well, add boiled water to desired amount and simmer until soft. Serve lumpy or pureed, with a bit of double cream and fresh chopped parsley on top yum.

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