It’s a sad day when the weatherman forecasts an overnight frost and you still have so many tomatoes on the vine. But though it will be the end of the tomato plants, it doesn’t mean the end of your garden tomatoes.
Just before the frost descends, collect all your tomatoes, at any stage of ripeness, and set them out in bowls on counters or tables. Almost all of them will eventually ripen. Refrigerate them as they ripen and extend the taste of summer into winter.
Many green tomatoes will ripen if left out in bowls.
Refrigerate ones that have ripened to red.
You can always tell when fall is approaching and squash plants are nearing the end of their lives. The leaves turn yellowish and dry, though it might still be weeks before the first frost. If you would like to enjoy the fruits of these plants well through the winter, allow them to grow large with firm outer shells in the late growing season. They will last in cool dry temperatures for months.
This garden zucchini has been kept in a cool place for months and photographed in February
Try this delicious zucchini bread recipe
Or this heavenly zucchini lemongrass soup
When the summer bell peppers are coming in thick and fast, you can choose to let the peppers fully mature and turn red, which usually slows down production of new fruits, or you can pick the peppers green to encourage another round of pepper production and simply freeze any excess peppers for winter consumption. It’s so easy to freeze peppers. Cut them in half and remove the core and seeds. Then place them on a tray and set them in the freezer. After an hour or so remove the peppers from the tray and store in plastic freezer bags.
First freeze the pepper halves for an hour on trays. Then store in plastic freezer bags.
Last fall, just before frigid winter temperatures set in, I had a lot of vibrant green dinosaur kale in the garden. However, I didn’t have time for my usual kale freezing protocols of blanching, chilling in ice water, squeezing out excess moisture, and storing in plastic freezer bags. The kale leaves were so abundant and inviting and healthy looking that I thought I would just try throwing them in the freezer anyway. So I took a chance and simply cut off the kale leaves, bundled them dry in two layers of plastic grocery bags and stuck them in the freezer.
The results were much better than expected. The kale emerged from the bags just a tiny bit wilted. Now in January and February when my fresh garden stocks are low, there’s plenty of this delicious, frozen kale ready to cook up and enjoy.
The outer of two plastic shopping bags
The inner of two plastic shopping bags
Frozen kale straight from the freezer