Harvest Season and Why I Love It

September 11, 2014  •  Condiments, Technique

plums on tree 2014-1Every year, as we laze through the last hot days of August, I watch the kids return to school, wandering past my plum tree on the way, and I start getting excited for the harvest season. My plum trees are barely a few years old, but I get fruit in giant clusters that look like grapes on steroids. I offer them up to friends, I tell neighbors to pick them, I take them to the food pantry in my neighborhood, and I eat so many my tummy hurts. But the most fun thing I’ve done by far is have my friend’s grand babies come pick plums.plum harvest zach hills-1This little guy figured out how to double fist them, holding one in each hand and yanking hard, often falling backwards and dropping his bucket in the process – and then exclaiming, “Oh my gosh!”plum harvest unger kids-1These two little cousins seemed to eat as many as they picked, yet still managed to fill their buckets up to the brim to take home.plum harvest unger babies-1Once the buckets were full – or the kids tired of the work – I would sit with them under the shade of the tree while their mommies finished picking, chatting about life and answering questions like this:

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“Do you think I’m a boy because my hair is short?”
“Yes, I think you should be the daddy.”
plum harvest jesse unger-1plum harvest jesse unger 1-1I cannot get enough of this blue eyed beauty – he was quite content to just crawl or scoot in the grass, but his sister thought she should also try to feed him a plum so he didn’t miss out.plum harvest thank you note-1I got lots of tags on Instagram as the families made their way through eating and cooking with the plums – and this nice thank you note that I will keep forever – or at least until I get some grandkids of my own.
plums 2014-1I know this bowl looks like quite a lot of plums – but let me assure you this was nothing compared to the full harvest I did the next week. plum harvest in sink-1My girlfriends are all game each year to help me harvest – to the point of risking their own safety to scamper to the top of the trees to get the higher up beauties that I’d never be able to reach. (They know they’ll be rewarded with lots of plum goodies this fall.) When we finished – and AFTER they all took a grocery bag full of plums, this is my harvest in the farmhouse sink of my kitchen. If that’s not intimidating, I don’t know what is. It sent me on a flurry to find recipes and start cooking. And I have a bunch of new plum-based recipes coming up on the blog.plum harvest 2014 over-1Everything from Plum Brandy to Spiced Sour Cream Plum Cake, from Plum Chutney to Plum Membrillo. You’re going to want to visit back in the next few weeks for sure!tomato harvest-1I have some other harvesting success – perhaps not on the scale of the plums, but gratifying, and tasty, nonetheless. I planted tomatoes smack in the middle of my geraniums for some unknown reason this year, and they are producing nice red tomatoes now.swiss chard harvest 2014-1I’ve already harvest my Swiss chard twice, and I can see it’s ready for a trim again. I have quite a few recipes that use Swiss chard on this blog if you are interested.cucumber harvest 2014-1I also have been growing pickling cucumbers – and no matter how hard I try each week, there is always one that I miss that turns to a giant overnight. I usually take the big ones to the food pantry, figuring it will make a better family salad for someone in need than it will a pickle.refrigerator pickles 2014-1Which isn’t to say that I don’t make pickles – I do. But this year I’m going the easy route, and just making refrigerator pickles. The recipe is super fast – and friends rave about the taste –  so I’ll share it here. I hope you’re enjoying the harvest season and its bounty as much as I am.

Refrigerator Spicy Dill Pickles
Recipe type: Condiments
  • Sliced cucumbers (enough to fill two 1-quart jars), about 6 cups
  • 2 large peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons dill seed
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2-4 small dried hot red chiles
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 3 cups water
  1. Place the cucumbers in a large bowl of ice water and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain cucumbers and pack into sterilized 1-quart jars. Add a garlic clove, sprig of dill, 1 teaspoon dill seed, 1 teaspoon mustard seed, 1-2 chiles, and 5 peppercorns to each jar.
  3. Combine the vinegar, salt, and water and bring to a boil; simmer until the salt is dissolved and then pour the liquid over the cucumbers in each jar. Cover tightly with a lid and refrigerate for 1 week before eating.
Refrigerator pickles will last a few weeks, but not as long as pickles that have been processed in a hot water bath. I harvest a few each week and make a jar, then try to eat it up before the next week.



One Comment  •  Comments Feed

  1. Katie says:

    Michele! thank you so much for sharing your trees with us, this post is wonderful!! We love harvest season too!

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