gonna crack under pressure
Tags: blemished vegetables, cilantro gone to seed, cracked peppers, CSA share, cumin, growing hot peppers, homemade salsa, hot pepper, hot salsa, irregular rain, Juliette hybrid tomato, organic gardening, ripe serrano pepper, serrano pepper, spice rack, split tomatoes, supermarket mentality, victory garden
With the heavy rains of the last several days, some of the garden produce “got away from me,” as my Granddady would say.
I didn’t get to harvest much. I didn’t want to touch the beans while they were wet, for fear of spreading disease, although I did rescue a whole bunch of drying seed pods when it looked like mold was attacking my precious heritage. F. has gone out to pluck the occasional cucumber. (We leave them on the vine because cukes like all the water they can get. I’m really wondering if you could ever overdo the watering with cucumber vines?) And we had okra and tomatoes and eggplant and peppers already in the house, not to mention corn and beans from the CSA pickup last week.
Some tomato plants fell right over in the rain: lovely ‘Juliette’, who produces grape tomatoes about four times the size of grocery store versions, somehow broke a wire of her tomato cage and sent stems sprawling through the lawn, where the tomatoes got red and overripe seemingly within hours, and I found them split and nibbled by birds next morning. She has proved herself to be an exceptionally vigorous hybrid, and one I highly recommend for this climate. But still, it seems a bit of an overkill to bust right through metal.
A few sunflowers flopped their heavy heads to the ground or ended up leaning on neighbors. It’s kind of charming, like they’re inebriated from so much water.
And several serranos, which were green early in the week, turned into fiery beacons in the landscape and developed cracks. How this happens, apparently, is that the pepper has assumed its final size and shape and is ready to ripen (turn red – although we actually prefer them dark green) when the rain comes pouring down and the excess water has nowhere to go. The outer skin is too solid to stretch.
Baby serrano peppers won’t crack, but take in the moisture to grow much bigger before assuming their final form. (And by the way, I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Some of the smallest ones, produced in the driest weather, have had the zingiest heat and most exceptional flavor.)
But I’m still planning on using my cracked serranos. I’m going to roast them in the oven and then peel off their skins and chop them small and make salsa. Hot, the way F. likes it. One lesson I’ve learned from my Victory Garden over and over is that the look of the produce may have absolutely no connection to the taste and that it is a crime to waste good food simply because of a little blemish. I knew that lesson from my childhood, but I’d succumbed to the American supermarket mentality in recent years. The reality of organic gardening has re-educated not just my palate and my conscience, but my vision.
I just have to remember to go pick up some cilantro at the store. Mine has all gone to seed. Soon to be cumin seed for my spice rack, of course. Nature doesn’t waste a thing, and I’m trying not to, either.