Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Last eggplant harvest?

It is starting to feel like autumn around here, with lows in the 50's (and 40's!) and highs in the 60's. I went out yesterday and picked all the green tomatoes on the vines, save ones that were cracked or damaged. Why? Well, I have not had much luck with tomatoes ripening on the vine in September (maybe you have) and the plants are looking bad- tired, spent, diseased and it is time for them to go. I will ripen the tomatoes inside- they will never develop the transcendent taste of a tomato ripened on the vine and still warm from the sun, but they will do for cooking. I also make fried green tomatoes as a treat and use them in sandwiches and as topping 0n homemade pizza (really, it is very good). And here is my recipe:
Fried Green Tomatoes
2 or 3 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 egg, scrambled
1/2 cup cornmeal or so
1/2 t salt
good sized grating of black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
2-3 t oil

Heat oil in skillet, until hot, not smoking. Mix cornmeal, salt, pepper and garlic powder and put on a plate. Dip each slice of tomato into egg, then in cornmeal mixture. Fry till golden each side, about 3-4 minutes a side (depending on pan heat-tomatoes should sizzle lightly when you add them to the pan). Remove and drain on a folded paper towel.

Fried green tomato pizza: top pizza crust with red/tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella (variation: cheddar) and fried green tomatoes. Bake as usual. YUM

But what does that have to do with the eggplant photo? This is today's harvest of eggplants, the last, except for many a few baby ones. I have been asked what can you do with eggplants to preserve them? There are eggplant spread and pickle recipes, but I think the easiest thing to do is to roast them for 40 minutes or until soft, in a 375 degree oven. Simply slice them in half, lay them cut side down on an oiled baking dish, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. The resulting roasted flesh is scraped from the skins (though some just keep them intact) and frozen to use in baba ganooj or, my favorite Indian dish, bhaigan barta. You can also make a sauce of sauteed onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes and roasted eggplant for pasta, pizza or rice. Another yum! Raw eggplant does not freeze well-you can dehydrate it raw to add to soups and stews, but I find the result less than satisfactory.

Listen to my podcast on "putting the summer garden to bed" on itunes or at: http://virginiaorganicgardener.podbean.com/

Happy gardening! And eating!

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