What I am growing in my winter garden

WP_000612

I normally get burned out over the spring/fall and don’t do much for the fall/winter season.  This year I decided I want to have a nice selection of winter veggies so I am going all out and start my winter garden.

In the garden now are kale, broccoli, bok choy, carrots, spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula (one of the most profitable vegetables), bunching onions, garlic, and leeks.  I wanted to grow Brussel sprouts but I should have started those about 4 month ago.

I grew the lettuce, broccoli, onions, and leeks from seeds in the grow box and transplanted them a few of weeks ago.  The bok choy, kale, and arugula were an impulse addition when I saw the plants on sale and struggling at my local grocery store.

image

All of these plants should do pretty well with the mild winters we get here in the Pacific Northwest…but our hard rains and occasional snowfall could lead to their downfall.  For this reason I came up with this structure which when the rains and/or low temperatures come I will cover with 2.5mm plastic sheeting.  Though I plan on adding one more set of cross pieces to prevent sagging in the middle, I consider this design a bit of a hybrid between row covers and a full blown hoop house.

WP_000614

This will provide plenty of space for the plants to grow and ease of getting under the structure to harvest in the rain while not large enough to hopefully not catch a little wind and sail away.

I am excited to continue to collect my harvests all year round.

How to make tomato skin powder

WP_000661

Previously I have just thrown my tomatoes peels into the compost after peeling them, but fortunately I got wind of an awesome technique of repurposing these into some tomato peel powder.  This is great when you want to create add some tomato flavor to a omelet or casserole without having to add the additional moisture raw tomatoes would include.  As an added bonus these peels have awesome nutritional and health benefits:

Bioavailability of carotenoids from finely crushed peels homogenized in tomato paste appeared to be similar to lycopene from the tomato flesh. Such a peel enrichment of tomato products would be a means to increase the nutritional value of tomato pastes and to enhance the intake of carotenoids. 1

Step #1: Dry your tomato skins.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you can dry them in the oven by setting it at its lowest temperature setting.  For a bit slower drying process you can place a small fan in your dryer wedging the door open slightly and add a small desk fan to get some air circulating.  For added heat place a ceramic reptile heater into the oven to get great results.  Depending on the heat you are generating it should take about 12-24 hours for these skins to dehydrate and be brittle breaking (not flexing) when bent.

WP_000638

Step #2: Make some tomato powder.  Place your dried tomato peels into a spice/coffee grinder.  I personally went with my Magic Bullet with the grinder attachment.  Grind until

WP_000654

Grind until until it becomes a fine powder.

WP_000657

You can store this powder for about 6 months in a airtight container, you can get more life out of these if you hold off grinding to just before use given oxidation can only occur where air is permeable so this will give you richer flavors longer.  I enjoyed about 1/4 teaspoon of this powder on my omelet this morning and was a great flavor without the excess moisture raw tomatoes provide.

If you don’t have enough tomato peels to fill your needs for tomato powder, you can also do the same process on the flesh of the tomatoes by slicing thin and dehydrating and grinding in the same way.

Easiest way to peel a tomato

 

WP_000620

If you have a lot of tomatoes to peel, I would recommend the classic method of quickly boiling and chilling the tomatoes.  Though if you have just a few tomatoes and are making something like pizza sauce or making a little salsa here is the technique for you.

Step #1: Slice your tomatoes and remove seeds.  Start by slicing your tomatoes down the middle and remove any seeds and membrane using a small spoon.

WP_000623

Step #2: Grate tomato.  Use your standard cheese grater and shave off all the flesh.  The skin should be thick enough to keep your fingers safe, but still be careful.

WP_000624

In the end you should have some nice grated tomato ready to make some tomato sauce or some fresh salsa with no chopping required.

WP_000631

All that is left if your tomato peels, but don’t throw them in your compost I have a post coming up with a great way to not waste these tasty part of your tomatoes.

WP_000632