Monthly Archives: September 2013

Seed Saving 101

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This really is a “Seed Saving 101” since I’m kind of a rookie too. 🙂   But I’m having some fun with it and thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned…

Last spring we started about 120 plants in the house.   In spite of winter lasting alot longer than I personally would have liked and a subsequent long wait for planting outside, we had great success with these plants overall.  We had very few plants that did not make it, and what we didn’t have room for, we gave away to family and friends.

Last year I saved pie pumpkin and various squash seeds (Delicata and butternut) and had pretty good luck with planting those this year.  I simply cut open the raw pumpkin or squash – as you would for carving – wash off the “meat” from the seeds as well as you can – dry it out on a paper plate until thoroughly dry.   It may take a couple weeks to be totally dry.

I recently got the Suzanne Ashworth book “Seed to Seed” and have branched out a little more into saving seed from brassicas like arugula, radishes, and turnips.  When the plants start to flower, they put up little pods on their stems.  You can either pick these pods for drying, or hang the whole stems to dry out.  Once they are dry, the pods open easily and the little seeds come right out.

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My little helper cleaning the turnip seed pods with me during some quiet moments at our garage sale last weekend…

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The end result (I ended up with way more seeds than this, this picture was taken early on in the process):

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I also saved seeds from both sweet and hot peppers simply by cutting the top off and removing the seeds.  Dry them on a paper plate, remove the seeds from the stem/flesh of the pepper, and store.

I attempted tomatoes….  You put the tomato in a blender with some water, blend, and them keep them in the water for 4-5 days.  There is a gelatinous sac around the tomato seeds that will interfere with germination so that needs to dissolve, which will happen in that 4-5 days.  Strain the water off, wash and dry the seeds on a plate or fine mesh screen and store.  I forgot about mine for about two weeks in the garage…they began to mold and grow maggots.  The smell was atrocious.   It was not pretty.  Lesson learned.  I will try that again when I have more time to deal with them.  Any which way, I wouldn’t recommend doing that process in the house because of the stink.

I got these seed storing envelopes from Amazon.com to store them until next year.

Here are some other good seed saving resources:  here, here, here, and here.  Oh, and here – a good story about the Svalbard, Norway Global Seed Vault.

Happy seed saving! 🙂

This post was shared at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday;

Home Canned Red Hot Sauce (GAPS, GF)

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This was a project from last weekend and it turned out good.  The motivation was to make this Buffalo Chicken Pasta dinner….YUM!

This recipe is adapted slightly from the Ball Blue Book canning guide.  I swapped out honey for sugar.  I was looking around online for a guide to canning with honey and found this.  Take a look at this if you would prefer to can with honey – sometimes you need to decrease liquid in some circumstances and it isn’t a “cup for cup” thing.

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Red Hot Sauce (GAPS, GF)

2 quarts chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes (about 12 large)

1 1/2 cups chopped and seeded hot red peppers (about 24)

1 quart vinegar, divided (I used apple cider vinegar.  I will note that you should label read because on my first trip to the store, I ended up with apple cider flavored vinegar with lots of extra unwanted stuff in it.  Hence, the second trip back to the store.)

7/8 c. honey

1 T. salt

2 T. mixed pickling spices

Combine tomatoes, peppers and 2 cups vinegar in a large sauce pan.  Cook until tomatoes are soft.  Press through a sieve or food mill.  Add honey and salt, Tie spices in a spice bag and add to tomato mixture.  Cook about 30 minutes or until thick.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Add remaining 2 cups vinegar.  Cook until as thick as desired, about 30 minutes. Remove spice bag.  Ladel hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Yield:  4 half pints.

If you’ve never canned before, I’d recommend that you get the Ball Blue Book.  It has a lot of good tips.  Just a couple of notes if you don’t have it on hand would be to boil your lids before use.  I have a magnet stick that I got with a canning kit to fish them out of the boiling water, and I wipe them dry.  Make sure you wipe the rim of the jars clean before putting the lids on.  I don’t have a fancy pan for canning, or even a canning rack.  I have a cheapy $5 Kmart enameled stock pot that works great.  Another tip – if you don’t have enough jars in it to safely pack it so stuff isn’t banging around – add pint jars filled with water to take up that room.  And make sure you hear the little “ding” from your jars sealing.  A sealed jar will have an indentation in the top.  If you don’t hear the “ding” or see the indentation, either put it in the fridge for more immediate use, or reprocess it for the recommended time.

I will add that I neither peeled nor seeded the tomatoes (I did seed the peppers), nor pressed it all through a sieve.  I had a lot of different projects going on at the same time, so I just cooked it down some (for awhile, like 30-45 minutes), took out the spice bag and used my immersion blender on it, and cooked it down some more.  Seeds do not bother us but if they bother you, take them out.  It also seemed like it took longer to cook than their directions say, but perhaps it’s because I made the recipe slightly bigger.   Just watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn, and stir often.

*****Just a reminder that it is always a good idea to wear rubber gloves when dealing with hot peppers, to avoid burning your hands (or eyes, lips, or whatever else you happen to touch!)*****

This post was shared at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday;

Breaded Italian Eggplant (GAPS, GF)

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I had a bunch of eggplant ready in the garden and decided I’d better pick it…    We grew the Japanese White Egg Eggplant from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed this year – they are so pretty!

Anyhow, this is going to be a rather informal recipe.  I just threw a bunch of stuff together and I liked it – so I’m going to take a guess at amounts. 🙂

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I had about 8-9 of these eggplants (they are small – if you are using the standard big purple variety you could use less.  Make however much you want. 🙂 )  I decided not to peel them although you could – and I sliced into 1/2″ slices.  Dip in beaten egg on both sides, and then dredge them through a mixture of coconut flour, Real Salt, ground pepper, basil and oregano.  A fairly close guess would be 1 c. coconut flour, 1 T. basil, 1 T. salt, 1 T. oregano, 1 tsp pepper.  I did need to make more breading at one point and followed those measurements fairly closely.  Fry in large frying pan in coconut oil.  I did need to keep adding coconut oil, and I made so many that at one point I had to change the oil because the oil was getting burnt.  They cooked up quickly – watch closely, flip when you can see that the bottom is getting nice and brown and fry on other side until brown.

I thought these would be AWESOME with a marinara sauce to dip them in – however, between canning salsa verde and ketchup today, the marinara didn’t happen.  Next time.  🙂