Xav tomatoes

It’s time for ‘putting up’ season down South

By Xaviere Chatagnier

Xav corn We have waited all year for this very short, very sweet month where all the great vegetables are in season at the same time. What is one to do when there is so much abundance? Well, here in the South we call it “putting up” which also includes canning, freezing, and pickling. And yes, you can “put up” just about every vegetable that is in season now.  

I went to see Donny Hunter’s farm early Monday morning on July 29 because I just could not imagine 1,500 tomato plants. The fields were resplendent with tomatoes hanging off the vines like rubies!  His plants are laden with tomatoes as far as the eye can see. Though I saw nirvana, Donny certainly must see back breaking work. 

Carolyn (Donny’s better half) will be at the Ellijay market on Saturdays and Donny will be in Canton. You would have to really go out of your way not to get his tomatoes.  I make tomato sauce with mine and can it. It is heavenly in the middle of the winter. Basically, I just cut the tomatoes in half, roast them for 3 hours, pass thru a food mill then put in hot jars in a boiling water bath. Though, several of my friends make sauce and just freeze it in baggies. My sister has a great way of preserving the summer flavor. We slow roast the tomatoes with garlic, olive oil and herbs de Provence, freeze them on a cookie sheet then pop the slice of heaven in a freezer bag. In the middle of the winter you can use them in pasta, pizza, omelets and so much more! Hey even the French know how to “put it up”!

Zach Henson has tomatoes, squash, zucchini, beans, eggplants, potatoes and figs. Whenever Zach has figs, I buy two containers because one never makes it to the car.  Fresh figs are a decadent treat. Zach has several different potatoes but his purple ones are magnificent.  Basically, Zach has about everything you need to make a ratatouille (yes, you can freeze it for the winter). Zach is at both the Wednesday and Saturday markets.

Tony Pisconeri (our Italian bread baker) brings his goods to both markets as well.  The Wednesday market is a sweet market with several vendors. It is open from 2-5:30 p.m. but do get there early. The Saturday JFM is open 7:30 a.m. till noon.

Rumor has it that the Jasper Farmers Market was awesome last Saturday, July 27 with 27 vendors. I do have a real job that occasionally interferes with my food life so I didn’t make it!  Revere Fowler had corn and hopefully this weekend too “if it makes.” Conner Jordan, J&J farms and Red Apple Barn also had corn. A dozen ears of corn goes for $4 at the Jasper Farmers Market, other local markets are rumored to charge a dollar an ear!

Jackie Cantrell’s brother, Larry, sold wildflower honey. Red Apple Barn also has peaches and apples too (yes, apple and peach season cross this time of year). Sargent Pepper has exquisite hot peppers and pepper flakes. These are not your mama’s hot peppers.

Jackie Carlisle plans on being at the market this Saturday with her healthy breads and muffins. I love her millet cranberry bars that I take with me on a trip. Jackie also has gluten free options but I am a full gluten gal! Irene makes great desserts as well as Papas bakery. Rumor has it the pork skin people were at the market for you Keto folks.

Freeze the corn off the cob (no I don’t parboil it). Just shuck it and freeze it. Do parboil your beans before you freeze them. Pickle the cucumbers and okra using a refrigerator method so you don’t have to really can them though they last forever if you do it the right way. Freeze the bell peppers in strips, cut the peaches and freeze or better yet make a killer peach ice cream. Apples can be dehydrated or canned as apple sauce. Hot peppers go straight into a baggie. Squash casserole is awesome frozen in small containers and of course ratatouille is the best ever frozen. Heck it is unlimited. Though it is a bit time consuming now, you will be glad you did this winter.

John Lupi (Home Restaurant) buys heirloom tomatoes from 5 Sons Farm; big beef tomatoes and cucumbers from Donny (Hill Valley Farms); beans, peppers and eggplants from me; microgreens and basil from Stacey; and Chad McKenzie loads Lupi up with all sorts of organic vegetables. I know I write about this every week but the vegetables do change weekly for his farmers’ plate. What doesn’t change is that Lupi buys more organically grown produce from the local farmers than anyone else around.

Eat local and shop local,

Xaviere

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