PRESERVING LEMONS

 

Meyer lemons are smaller, rounder, and softer than regular supermarket lemons. They range in color from bright yellow to light orange. Originally from China, they are grown in Florida and California. They are most similar to the lemons grown in the Mediterranean for preserving.

Preserving Lemons
by Mike McGeary

What Are Preserved Lemons?

They are lemons packed in salt and lemon juice, a process that preserves them for many months without refrigeration.

The standard lemons in grocery stores have skins that are hard and have a strong flavor. The best lemons for preserving that are widely available in the United States are Meyer lemons, because their skin is soft and has very little of the bitter white pith found in standard lemons. Also, they are nicely mellow rather than tart in flavor.

I have found Meyer lemons at the Montañita Co-op and Whole Foods, and they probably are available at other grocery stores. The problem is that they are not always available, so you have to keep a lookout for them and get them when you see them. It is also necessary to use them within days of purchase, because the thin pithless skin does not protect them as well as the thick skins and pith of regular lemons. The short shelf life also makes them more expensive, but you won’t need that many to last your needs for months.

You can buy preserved lemons in jars from specialty stores and perhaps supermarkets, but I found that they do not compare in flavor with ones I make myself.

You can learn more about the origin of Meyer lemons, how they are used, and how they have become more popular from a National Public Radio story here:  The Meyer Lemon: More Than A Pretty Face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Preserve Lemons?

I began to preserve lemons because I like to make Moroccan tagines and couscous, and preserved lemons are a basic ingredient. As Paula Wolfert put it in her 1973 cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Food from Moroco (which is still in print): “There is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, no substitute for preserved lemons in Moroccan food.”

In other words, preserved lemons have a unique flavor.

Preserved lemons are also used across the middle east, not just in Morocco. For example, Yotam Ottolenghi of Jerusalem has recipes using preserved lemons in his cookbooks, including Jerusalem and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

I also chop the skin into vinaigrettes and marinades. Recently, I chopped up half a lemon skin and some of the pulp with chopped garlic, olive oil, and salt and stuffed the mixture under the skin of two large bone-in organic chicken breasts, before roasting them in the oven. Yum!

Many people, apparently inspired by Martha Stewart (see NPR story above), are using fresh Meyer lemons in baking, such as Stewart’s lemon and pine nut tart, but that’s an article for another day.

 

How to Preserve Lemons

Mise en place:

  • One-quart canning jar, preferably wide mouth for easier retrieval of the lemons.
  • Cup of non-iodized salt in a bowl, with a tablespoon to stuff the lemons (I use kosher but sea salt is fine).
  • About 12 Meyer lemons (about 8 for the jar, 4 to provide juice to top off the jar after it is filled with lemons).
  • Sharp knife.

Preparation

  • Sterilize the canning jar by filling with boiling water or running through the dishwasher.
  • Put a tablespoon of salt on the bottom of the jar.
  • Scrub the lemons, and cut the tips off the ends of each lemon.
  • Cut the lemons into quarters without separating the wedges. That is, (1) put the lemon on end, and cut down most but not all the way through the lemon. (2) Rotate one quarter. (3) Repeat Step 1. See the lemon on the left in the photo, above.

I learned a slightly different method: (1) Putting the lemon on end, cut down most but not all the way through the lemon. (2) Rotate one-quarter. (3) Invert the lemon. (4) Repeat step 1. See the lemon on the right in the photo, above.

TIP: I hold the knife at about a 20 degree angle so that I can’t accidentally cut all the way through the lemon.

  • Put a tablespoon of salt inside each lemon, reshape, and place in the jar.
  • Pack the lemons as tightly as you can. If necessary to fill holes, separate a lemon into halves. Put another tablespoon of salt between each layer (there will be about 2) and on top.
  • Fill the jar with lemon juice from the remaining lemons.
  • Place the rind from a lemon squeezed for juice on top.
  • Seal the jar and leave for a month or more before using any lemons, shaking daily for a week to thoroughly dissolve the salt.

After the lemons are ready, they do not have to be refrigerated, but refrigeration reduces the chance that a white mold will form on surfaces exposed to air. The mold is harmless and washes off when you use the lemon. (The purpose of laying the skin of a squeezed lemon on top is to provide a surface for any mold that might form, and which can be easily removed and discarded.) The best way to prevent mold is to keep the lemons always completely covered by juice.

To use, rinse thoroughly to remove the salt. Most Moroccan recipes will have you slice the skin into narrow strips and discard the pulp. It is possible to use some or all of the pulp—I usually do—but it will remain very salty, so be sure to reduce the amount of salt you would normally add. You can find many Moroccan and other recipes that use preserved lemons online.

ENJOY!

 

Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101

Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101
By Lynne Roberts

An Important message about SEEDS: BUY THEM SOON!!  Last year, 2020, there was a major shortage of seeds across the country and in all the seed markets around the world…None of the Santa Fe garden centers nor plant stores nor the big box stores had any seeds left after the first cycle of early seed buyers…(Many of us who save seeds may have had some seeds for our own gardens and for sharing with friends and neighbors…). And the reason for that major seed shortage: NOT ENOUGH WORKERS TO SOW, HARVEST, PACKAGE, and SHIP those seeds from the farmers and the major seed producing companies, and NO WORKERS to PROCESS ORDERS to stores, in addition to a difficult Covid-19 growing season 2020.  SO, BUY YOUR SEEDS SOON, and locally if possible!!

So don’t despair-those of you who don’t have a greenhouse or cold frames in which to start your COOL SEASON CROP seeds in your garden!  Seeds like lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, cabbage, arugula, and many other cool season crops can be started outside with protection. It is totally possible to start your seeds outdoors, in the freezing cold, with a well-known method of seed germination, requiring just two things:  mini GREENHOUSES (made from recycled plastic/transparent milk-water-juice gallon jugs or large plastic soda or water bottles) and TIME with Olde Mother Nature. It is both easy and economical to start your own garden seeds in your own greenhouses, in your yard.

WINTER SOWING 101
My source is Kevin Lee Jacobs, at his website, “A Garden for the House.com,” who credits TRUDI DAVIDOFF with inventing, in 1999, this outdoor method of seed germination, in even the coldest of temperatures, starting in December, January, or even on February 14, on St Valentines Day and even later. You can google Ms. Davidoff, and see that she still has a foundation for teaching this easy method to students of all ages, around the world…

In 2007, when I first moved to Eldorado—land of gophers, rodents, “mouses,” impossible alkaline soil, and strong Mistral-like winds—I was NOT a happy gardener!!!!!

And then, I read Trudi’s and Kevin’s method for germinating seeds outside in the cold, using recycled mini plastic greenhouses! Ms. Davidoff urges everyone to use whatever free container that they can recycle, including plastic deli, fruit and veggie containers from the supermarket, aluminum foil circular and square containers from the Chinese restaurants and fast food restaurants, etc… Look around and see how much of this free, easy to recycle “stuff” is available to use as planters before it finally goes into the recycle pile at the transfer station.

MAKE A MINI-GREENHOUSE
So, we all know how seed starting indoors –without lights, with very limited space inside your bedroom, in your dining room or living room on wooden tables that will get water damaged from leaking plant pots, with not enough sunny window ledges nor enough Sun coming in anywhere inside your house or apartment –ENDS!!— IN DESPAIR, with irate and annoyed spouses, partners, roommates, and spindly starts, subjected to the dry air loving creatures (spider mites, scale, bugs, things) and mold and mildew or half dead plants…! (YES! YOU! In your HOME!!)

GARDENERS, let’s start out right and be successful!
Instead of leaving that 1/4” of milk, juice, or water in the bottom of the plastic gallon jug and putting it back in your fridge, hoping that someone else living in the house or a passing friend will empty it, rinse it, and take it out to your recycle bin (YES! YOU!), take that same FREE AVAILABLE container or milk/juice/water jug and empty its contents, fill it with some water, and rinse out the water (over your potting soil is good)

1) DISCARD the bottle top/cap of your jug. Take a medium drill bit and your drill (or heat a Phillips screw driver over your gas burner flame), and make enough holes for ventilation in the bottom of the jug (perhaps 10-15 holes) for appropriate drainage and ventilation, about 3-5 holes on each side, and 5-10 holes on the top of your transparent plastic container for ventilation…as your greenhouse will be watered with rain, snow, and sleet…

2) Just below the handle of your jug CUT around the middle of the jug, using an exacto knife, or a VERY sharp knife, or scissors cut about an inch be (add extra duct tape on hinge for support), the handle remains on the jug itself.

3) Add a good quality sterile seed starting or potting soil mix ( DO NOT USE SOIL FROM YOUR GARDEN) and fill the bottom part of your jug with about 2″-3″ of this good potting soil…Soak well, allow to drain thoroughly at the sink or over your pail of seed starting mix or good potting soil.  Add perlite to loosen the soil if your soil is slow draining.

4) Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil.  If your seeds are very small, there is no need for additional soil to cover… Leave them on the surface of your potting soil.  Larger seeds require only 1/8″ planting depth.

5) Labeling and taping-Use a permanent marker to indicate on the jug itself the following information: name of seed, quantity sown, date sown, days to maturity, height, possible planting location in your garden, and any other important info…Then, close the container’s hinged cover, secure it into place with 2-3 pieces of DUCT tape (it’s not necessary that the two halves fit tight; you will be able to open your jug greenhouse to check the water inside–rain, snow, sleet have been watering your greenhouse, supplemented by any additional water that you may need to add–to monitor the progress of your seedlings, and to check ventilation as the greenhouse will heat up and on sunny days become very humid…That is why NO cover or cap is needed on your greenhouse, as the vented top will permit excess heat and humidity to escape!)

6) Move your planted greenhouse jugs outside soon after planting them!  (YES,IN THE FREEZING COLD AND SNOW!!) . I place all the jugs in a shallow plastic box or on a tray with an edge or lip, and place that tray/box containing all the greenhouses (6-8) on a wire mesh patio table or in a large plastic recycle container away from the wind, on the south side of my house or in a very protected area…

When your seedlings are ready to be transplanted in your garden, you can take great pleasure in knowing that you have an easy and economical way to sow more seeds for your garden…And you sowed, nurtured, transplanted, and grew your plants all by yourself!!!  BRAVO, FEARLESS GARDENER!!

NEW! 2021 CLASS/EVENT SCHEDULE

2021 CLASS/EVENT SCHEDULE

Below are the classes/events schedule for 2021 with detailed info on each class and REGISTRATION through EVENTBRITE. You can also find this schedule on the top menu on this website in CLASSES/EVENTS. All events will be outside. We will see how many people we can have by June when the first class starts. If we can have more then ten people, then we will have whatever the NM Health allows. If only ten people will be allowed, then first come first served and we may have to bump people to whatever the state allows so sign up early!

You can print off an abridged version (to put on your refrigerator!) here:

2021 HG CLASS SCHEDULE-revised 07:29

______________________________________________

MARCH-APRIL

Saturdays and Sundays
WEEKENDS ONLY

STARTS: March 6 thru April 25, 2021
10 am—5 pm

Mini-Seed Shelters

Due to CV-19 we are offering two Mini-Seed Shelters this year. If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden, come to one of these the Mini-Seed Shelters. Please bring any seeds you may have to share. It is not necessary but helps keep our seed supply going.

Two Locations:
The Seed Shelter: 1539 Burro Lane • Santa Fe
Railyard Park Seed Shelter: 701 Callejon (behind SITE Santa Fe outside Railyard park classroom) • Santa Fe
Fee: FREE for everyone!

________________________________________

JUNE

Sunday, June 6, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Veggie Gardening In Our Santa Fe Area

Jannine Cabossel, The Tomato Lady, will show you in her garden, how to be a successful vegetable gardener. Come learn how to garden in our harsh environment. Give yourself the ability to grow great vegetables with these gardening tips!

Instructor: Jannine Cabossel/The Tomato Lady
Location: Jannine’s mini-farm • 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members

REGISTER HERE

___________________________________________

Sunday, June 20, 2021
11 noon to 2 pm

Grain Trials Field Day

Tour the 5th season of the Rio Grande Grain trials at La Villita Farms (formerly Mergirl Gardens). This fall we planted one acre of a variety of ancient & heritage wheat, barley and spelt in an effort to discover which varieties do well here in New Mexico and to increase local seed stock. Regenerative agriculture concepts and our experiences with growing small plots of grain will be discussed. There is plenty of space to spread out and you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch. Please bring your own water!

Location: La Villita, NM (directions will be given on paypal)
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members

REGISTER HERE

_____________________________________________

JULY

Sunday, July 18, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Hypertufa Planter Workshop & Demo

Get ready for planting with these easy to make and durable plant pots that will look great in your garden and last for years. These rock-like pots are wonderful for displaying rock-garden plants. They look like stone, but weigh less and can take whatever shape you want.

Instructor: Bob Zimmerman and Chris Salem
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members

REGISTER HERE

____________________________________________

AUGUST
Sunday, August 1, 2021-CANCELLED
12 noon to 2 pm
Leaf & Hive Brew Tour & Demo/Jun & Kombucha Making

Leaf & Hive Brew is now offering its unique Honey Brew probiotic alchoholic beverages to Santa Fe. Unlike regular kombucha, Andrew and Fred Lucas ferment their Jun beverages from green tea and/or oolong, with honey and flavors such as ginger, hibiscus, and botanicals. The result is like a delicious sparkling mead! This is a rare opportunity to learn about this ancient brew and tour the facility. Afterward, we’ll participate in a tasting of what they have on hand in their taproom. Come thirsty!

Tour guide: Leaf and Hive
Location: 1208 Mercantile Rd. • Santa Fe
Fee: $10, for members/$20 for non-members

______________________________________________

Sunday, August 15, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Dehydrating the Harvest

Have you thought about getting a food dehydrator to preserve seasonal produce? Do you already have a dehydrator and want to learn more ways to use your dehydrator than just drying apples? In this class, Bob will demonstrate how to preserve all kinds of food, complete with recipes and tips for getting the most out of your dehydrator. Here are just some of the unique and tasty treats that we will explore-fruit chips, beef,& turkey jerky, Parmesan, tomato & zucchini chips, sun-dried tomato crackers and fruit rollups.

Instructor: Bob Zimmerman and Mike McGeary
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members

REGISTER HERE

_______________________________________________

Sunday, August 29, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Getting Seedy: Why & How to Save Your Seeds

Join Master Gardener & Certified Seed School Teacher Diane Pratt in learning about seed saving. In this workshop, you’ll learn the advantages of locally adapted seeds and how they offer resilience to climate change, how to get started saving seeds, which vegetable seeds are easiest to save, how to know when seeds are ready to collect, and how to store them. Plus, techniques for determining the viability of seeds & why we can’t save seeds from hybrid varieties.

Instructor: Diane Pratt
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 to members/$20 for non-members

REGISTER HERE

_______________________________________________

SEPTEMBER

Saturday, Sept 11, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Reunity Resources Farm Tour

Visit Santa Fe’s community farm practicing organic and regenerative agriculture. Reunity Resources is working with closed loop nutrient systems using food waste from local businesses to create a variety of compost and mulch products using Aerated Static Piles and vermicomposting (worms).

The compost operation has diverted over 5 million pounds of food waste from the landfill and sequestered much of that car- bon in the soil increasing fertility and water absorption. The results are evident in the amazing variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers produced on the farm. The farm is commit- ted to serving the community through education and outreach and donates much of the produce to local hunger projects. The farm stand will be open as well.

Location: 1829 San Ysidro Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members

REGISTER HERE

_____________________________________

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Credit: 1909 Valentine’s card by Chordboard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Valentine’s Day!
by Lynne Roberts

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovers of people, pets, plants, pizza, and world peace!!

Ever wonder about the origins of Valentine’s Day, once you’ve had a chance to buy your beloveds, friends, family and work mates those beautiful bouquets of flowers, pots of plants, plant and gardening books, and one single perfect flower bud??

Well, me neither, but in the interest of knowledge for you dear readers, I looked up the real history of Saint Valentine, and the origin of the celebration…

The “origin” stories are all shrouded in mystery.  There were three different Christian saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all martyred by the Emperor Claudius… Thanks to the actions of a prisoner named “Valentine,” possibly a Roman soldier, who sent a “love” letter to a young girl who he was in love with (possibly the daughter of his jailer), we now have the custom of sending love letters to those whom we love…Valentine signed his love note “From your Valentine,” and a great tradition was born…

By the Middle Ages, St Valentine had become the most popular saint in both France and England.

St Valentine’s feast was placed in the middle of February, in order to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of LUPERCALIA, a fun fertility festival dedicated to Fannus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus…

During the Middle Ages, people believed that February 14 was the beginning of the mating season for birds, and thus, Valentine’s Day became a day for romance—for everyone!

Geoffrey Chaucer, renowned English poet (Canterbury Tales), recorded St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules:”(1375)

“…when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

Written valentine cards and greetings appeared after 1400, the first written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

Cupid, chubby little naked cherub, shooting arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers, first appeared in the Hellenistic period.  By mid-18th century, English and French friends and lovers, all exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes to each other, and by 1900, with improvements in printing and technology, printed cards replaced written letters.

America began exchanging handmade valentines in the early 1700’s.

In the 1840’s, the American, Esther Howland, began selling the first mass-produced valentines in the United States. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine;” she used real lace, ribbons, and pictures to create her valentines.

So, all you amorous souls, send your friends, sweeties, spouses your own special valentine greetings: cards, plants, flowers, gardening supplies, today and throughout this week.

Source: (A&E Television networks, published, 12/22/2009)

Mini-Seed Shelters

Starting in March—Due to CV-19, Home Grown NM is offering two Mini-Seed Shelters this year. If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden, come to one of these the Mini-Seed Shelters in lieu of our annual Seed Exchange. Please bring any seeds you may have to share. It is not necessary but helps keep our seed supply going.

MARCH-APRIL March 6th thru April-25th–WEEKENDS ONLY   Time: 10 am—5 pm

Mini-Seed Shelters (as supplies last)

Two Locations:
The Seed Shelter • 1539 Burro Lane • Santa Fe (access off Quail View Lane)

Railyard Park Seed Shelter: 701 Callejon (behind SITE Santa Fe outside Railyard park classroom) • Santa Fe
Fee: FREE for everyone!

____________________________________________________

Also the Seed Library is responding to pandemic-related library closures by again locating “Mini Seed Libraries” at 9 locations throughout the county starting in March and continuing through May or as long as seed supplies last.

March 6–May 31 WEEKENDS ONLY, 10 am–5 pm (as supplies last)

2021 Mini-Seed Library locations:

Main Library—145 Washington Avenue • Santa Fe (Located under the portal)

LaFarge Library—1730 Llano Street • Santa Fe (Located under the portal)

Southside Public Library—6599 Jaguar Drive • Santa Fe
(Located under the portal)

Reunity Resources Farm—1829 San Ysidro Crossing • Santa Fe
(Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 to noon.
Call to confirm (505)-490-1047)

Santa Fe County Fairgrounds—3229 Rodeo Road • Santa Fe
(Located outside the white gate)

La Tienda at Eldorado—7 Caliente Road • Santa Fe (Monday-Saturday 10-5)

Galisteo, NM—Galisteo Park—The park is adjacent to church at the junction of NM Routes 41 and 42.

Pojoaque,NM—Pojoaque Valley Irrigation District Office, 9 Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque.

EdgewoodEdgewood Senior Center, 114 Quail Tr., Edgewood, NM,
(at Community Garden inside hoop house)

Get the PDF version HERE: MINI-SEED STATION LOCATIONS

 

Culinary Herbs in the New Mexican Garden

Culinary Herbs in the New Mexican Garden
by guest writer, Deborah Madison

One of the rewards of life itself is tending a small garden plot of herbs.  I think of herbs as adjectives for they modify what you put them with. And I also think of them as the lively boarder collies of the plant world, the nippy little buggers that can transform your basic vegetables into wonders.  A carrot changes depending on whether you’ve paired it with earthy thyme, clean bracing parsley, lively lovage, early sage or mint, aromatic basils, or a lemony herb, like lemon verbena.  Mix dill, parsley, basil and cilantro together and you have a pretty striking super-herb that’s both familiar and exotic.

Many herbs are perennials, like lovage, thyme, sage, rosemary and sorrel, which is very convenient because once you’ve got them going they come back each year.  Some that are perennials in warmer places are treated like  annuals here. Marjoram in one such herb that I’m thinking of.  Many herbs tolerate poor soil and even abuse and neglect.

Annuals are generally pretty easy to grow. You can buy starts or you can also grow them from seed.  Anise, cumin, and caraway —all from the cupboard—do well enough here. Regardless, compare fresh with what you get in the supermarket, which are those nasty little plastic packages which hold a few herbs and costs at least $3.  If the herb is sorrel, there are, at most, a worthless 8 leaves, and they are often spoiled since they give off a great deal of moisture which causes them to wilt. Buying herbs in a plastic container is one of the most disheartening and costly things, you can do.  If you’re on a food budget, you’re not going to be buying herbs.  And yet, herbs are one of the most useful, delightful and functional plants you can grow. Here are some of my favorite herbs.

Annual Herbs

Cilantro/Coriander— I’m grew mine from seeds I collected from a plant that volunteered in the garden path last year. Despite the heat it is doing very well and has made plenty of green coriander “balls” that are so good with beets.

Cumin — The umbel flowers and seeds are so good with so many summer vegetables —eggplant, carrots, potatoes, beets, and so forth. And you can grow cumin!

Anise —you can plant these with seeds from the market if you like.  I did when writing Vegetable Literacy. They make a small delicate umbel-like flower.

Dill—I was impressed that this does very well in the Master Gardeners vegetable garden as a volunteer where it doesn’t’ even get water!  There is nothing better than fresh summery dill and its pretty golden umbels.

Chervil —“Chervil or parsley” are often called for in French recipes but chervil has a different, anise-like flavor.  It’s a lovely delicate spring herb and often paired with parsley tarragon and chives to make fines herbes. Basils— All kinds are easy to grow and each kind has its own flavor and characteristic. I was amazed the first time—years ago— I went to the botanical garden on the big Island of Hawaii and saw all these different kinds of basil that we are now familiar with.

Marjoram—Think of using marjoram wherever basil is called for. It’s summery in the same way.  And very different from Its relative oregano. Sweeter.

Lemon verbena—(Treat as an annual here)  Especially good with stone fruits!

Perennial Herbs

Lovage—my favorite herb, I think, but it’s challenging to grow here because it likes water. Tastes like a wild cross between celery can parley, but better.

Parsley—it’s such a basic herb – why not walk outside and pick it? Also it is a good host for the catepillars that fee our songbirds.

Angelica –I adore angelica (Bob Pennington has a huge on at Agua Fria) but
I’ve never been good at growing it.  The stems are traditionally candied and used in French desserts. To me it tastes like pine.

Oregano —a good summer and winter herb that does well here.

Salad Burnet—lovely with cucumbers and as a garnish for little sandwicihes.

Sage—I plant the culinary variety rather than the variegated. It’s the perfect herb to pair with winter squash and potatoes and its  purple flowers in spring have a mint-like flavor.

Sorrel—Plant in a big pot or in the ground.  It’s a tart herb.

Rosemary—Plant near a southern facing wall. Arp works well but you can plant a lot of varieties.

Mints of all kinds— (Useful —but I confess – these are a challenge for me!)

Chives, garlic chives, and their blossoms—Pretty and somehow essential

Tarragon—one of the first herbs to come up; always good with vegetables and in salads.  Has a strong licorice flavor.

Rue—not for eating, but the black Swallowtail caterpillars love it. Good to plant near roses.

Anise Hyssop—Makes a lovely tea! Has purple flowers.

Thymes of all kinds—Thyme even lemon thyme is grounding and especially good with sweet vegetables.

And don’t forget Deborah Madison has a new book out–An Onion in My Pocket, a memoir about her life which is great read!

Welcome to 2021!

WELCOME TO 2021!
by Jannine Cabossel/Chairperson
Home Grown New Mexico

Welcome to a new year! Last year was quite a year and I for one am looking forward to a new year that is not so stressful! Corona Virus was and still is rampant but appears that most of us will be able to get the vaccine in the first 6 months which will ease my mind.  Just waiting till they call me up! Home Grown New Mexico came to a screeching halt with our events and classes last year and now we are working on what we can do for this year to feed our souls. So what’s new with HGNM?

Regarding the Seed Exchange-We can’t have our normal HGNM Seed Exchange that we had every year in March, but last year we had a mini-seed shelter station where people could pick up/drop off seeds and it seemed to work well. It was just in the nick of time as many of the nurseries and national seed companies got cleaned out of seeds with many people wanting to grow their own food last year.

This year we will have two seed shelter stations. We are also coordinating with Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners/The Seed Library. We are all in the process of getting our seed station locations nailed down which we will share later.  So, everyone who wants some seeds should be able to get some. MG/Seed Library will have many stations. Our two seed shelters will be open on weekends only, starting Saturday March 6 and will be open hopefully thru end of April. It will be unmanned so we ask only take what you need to plant for this season (no hoarding please). Still working out the details and will let you know as soon as everything is finalized.

We are changing our membership back to a calendar year which will be good from Jan 1-December 31. Since everyone’s membership has by now expired, we felt it’s a good time to switch back. It was too hard to track it the other way. All 14 people who bought memberships last year will be rolled into this year since we had cancel all events and everyone has been notified. Please consider becoming a member to support us. A bonus is members will get a deep discount on all events/classes. Plus it is tax deductible. Memberships cost will remain the same with individual memberships costing $35 and families/couples costing $60. You can join and pay here online. Just click on MEMBERSHIP in the top menu for details on joining.

Something new in 2020 was the board wrote interesting articles on here on our website since we couldn’t offer classes. This year we will do the same till the classes start. We have gotten lots of positive responses. If you want to read the previous articles, just scroll backwards on our site to catch up.

Our Board of Directors had our first meeting for 2021 to discuss classes/dates and we decided that we are NOT going to have any indoor classes this year but instead we are opting for outdoor events/classes to keep everyone safe. These events will start in June. At least that’s the plan. Our events/classes this year will start in June and go through Sept or October and awaiting confirmation. As far as what events/classes are we going to have? Well, we are working out those details too and will let you know as soon as things are finalized in the next few weeks but the plan is we’ll be back and I can’t wait!

Saving Green Tomatoes

 

Saving Green Tomatoes by Jannine Cabossel, the Tomato Lady

Now is the time to finish picking your ripe and green tomatoes as next week it will be in the 20s at night. If you wait till after a hard freeze, it will be too late.

How to save green tomatoes
If you have an abundance of green tomatoes on the vine, you still can bring them inside your house to finishing ripening them (not in a cold garage). Here’s how I do it although there are many ways to save them, I find using paper bags from the grocery store (yes that’s why you’ve been saving all those bags!) works really well.

How to pick tomatoes that will ripen

First you can tell which green tomatoes will probably ripen fully by looking at them. If you see the green is getting lighter on the sides, it will probably ripen as it has started the ripening process. Some have very dark tops and that is ok as long as the sides are a lighter shade of green. Also I just pick the bigger tomatoes as they are usually further along in the growing process versus the small totally dark immature tomatoes.

Use paper bags to ripen them

Place 2-3 layers of rock hard green tomatoes in bags as shown above-no more  that a couple of layers because as they ripen, you don’t want the ones ripening underneath to get crushed. Also discard any that have blemishes.

 

Place tomatoes that are just starting to get color in another bag and move the ones that are starting to color up from the ‘green’ bag. Look into your ‘green’ tomato bag every few days and move them to the ‘just starting to color’ bags.

Important tip: Put a slice or two of apple (any color) in each bag. The apple slice will release ethylene gas which is a natural ripening hormone that is in many fruits. It will speed up the ripening process of your tomatoes in your paper bags. Replace apple slices as needed. It really works!

 

Close up all the bags so the apple does it’s work and none of the gas is released. I fold the paper bags over several times and then I put either something on top of the bags to keep them closed or I shove them under a rack to help keep them closed as shown above.

The trick is you must inspect the bags every few days and move them to another bag as necessary. If you just put them in the bag and forget about them, you might wind up with a bunch of the ripen ones squished with the heavier unripened ones on top.

Once they have changed color but still hard, you should take them out of the bag and put them on the counter to finish ripening. Never put a ripe tomato in the refrigerator. A cold refrigerator dampens the taste.

This method is really good on extending the tomato season once the weather is too cold. They will never be quite as good as the sun-ripened ones but are still about 200% better than store bought ones. I use a lot of them that get a little too soft for pasta sauces and eat the rest.

Solar Oven Cookery

Solar Oven Cookery
by Alessandra Haines
September 2020

Looking back on this extraordinary summer of environmental and social turmoil a bright spot (quite literally!) has been regularly cooking in the solar oven. It is super easy, safe and versatile. It’s near impossible to burn anything and can be left unattended while you are out. No fossil fuels are used and no fumes are produced.

The oven I have been working with is a Sun Oven. It is basically an insulated box with a glass top and mylar reflectors. It works very well for patio use and is easy to move about and store. There are many varieties of commercial solar ovens available and a plethora of DYI designs. It is an incredibly simple device with really nothing to break down or go wrong.

The beauty of solar cooking is that you can eat well and NOT HEAT UP THE HOUSE!!!! As our temperatures rise keeping our interiors cooler in the summer is paramount. We all know that fossil fuel powered AC is not really a solution to a warming climate!

There are things that cook especially well in the solar oven that require long cooking times and I probably wouldn’t bother to cook in the regular oven or stove top in the heat of the summer.

For example, it works very well for any type of simmered soups or stock, stew, posole, cassoulet and polenta. Dried beans can be cooked in 2-3 hours with no soaking. Simmering only requires about 220F so even if the sun is less than optimal your liquid based dish will cook.

It’s perfect for roasting or baking: potatoes, yams, beets, turnips, carrots,
tomato, summer or winter squash as well as any type of casserole, enchiladas etc.

For baking anything in the 350-400F range is possible. My solar oven tends to max out at 350F so if its a cookie that wants 400F it might just take a bit longer. Smaller baked goods will cook faster. For example, banana muffins might be a better choice than a huge loaf of banana bread. The temperature can be adjusted by adjusting the angle of the oven to the sun and by cracking the lid open a bit which also releases condensation on the glass.

Cooking outdoors with the sun does require you pay attention to the weather. On occasion, if it clouds up, you may have to finish up your baked potatoes or whatever inside in the kitchen oven. The optimal cooking window is from about 11 am to 4 pm.

Cookware should be dark and heat absorbing rather than reflective such as foil or stainless steel.

Dark enamelware (black, red, blue, dark green) heats up the quickest as it is lightweight.

Cast iron or dark clay cookers also work very well and a black enamel toaster oven tray is the perfect size for roasting vegetables.

Foraged Flavors of Santa Fe

Our friends at Slow Foods Santa Fe are putting on the following event:

Foraged Flavors of Santa Fe/ZOOM Event

Speaker: Ellen ZachosDate: Tuesday October 6Time: 5:00-6:30 pm
For more info on this upcoming event and to sign up,
go to: Foraged Flavors of Santa Fe