Every fall, when we start to feel that first nip in the air, it signals that it’s time to close our summer gardens. While we’re still planting heartier winter crops during these colder months, we do have to harvest all those spring and summer crops still left at the end of the season. It’s a time we look forward to around here, a time when we get our creative juices flowing to come with new ways to save and use what’s left in our gardens.
This time of year, the most common things left in our gardens are herbs, peppers, eggplant and green tomatoes. For the peppers, we like to dry them with ristras, and use the dried peppers in all sorts of different recipes. To use up the other veggies, we love making eggplant parmesan, salsa verde and stuffed peppers. Most of these freeze well so you can enjoy them long into the winter.
The herbs, though, let us get really creative! We like to dry them in our dehydrator and use them in tons of handmade products that we sell around the holidays at our now annual event Scratch Made. We make a number of teas, herb-blended salts, simple syrups and more.
Here are some of our favorites and things you can expect to see at this year’s Scratch Made:
Herbal tea blends: We love a good tea around here! Some of our favorite tea-making herbs are stinging nettle, peppermint and lemon balm. At this year’s Scratch Made, you’ll find tea blends for women’s health, relaxation, general health and a yummy one just to brighten your day.
Herbed salt blends: These are always a crowd pleaser. This year, we’re bringing back favorites like dill salt, gomasio and our Italian blend with rosemary, parsley, thyme, tarragon and oregano. New this year, you can buy hand-made za’atar and a zesty lime salt.
Simple syrups: Flavor-infused imple syrups are great for adding to coffees and cocktails. This year we’ll offer ginger, rosemary, jalepeno, turmeric and lavender simple syrups.
Salve and lip balm: Don’t forget the bees! We always love making products that make use of beeswax from our bee hives. This year we’ll have the popular comfrey wound salve and an all-natural lip balm.
This year we’ve added a new product: fermented hot sauce. We used lots of hot peppers grown by the Growing Together farmers to make this delicious sauce that we’re excited to share with you. If you want to make your own, here’s our recipe:
1 cup hot peppers, washed and stemmed (about 6 medium-sized peppers), we used jalapeno, serrano and cayenne peppers
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp sugar, optional
1 tbsp whey
White vinegar to taste
Place hot pepper, whey, salt, sugar and enough water to cover in a jar, and seal. Place har in a warm place (around 70 degrees is optimal). Over the next 3-5 days, gently agitate the jar 1-2 times a day. You’ll notice the brine will become cloudy.
Blitz the peppers and seeds in a blender or food processor. Be careful not to splash. A well-ventilated area is best for this. Pour the puree into a jar. Add white vinegar to taste. Store in the refrigerator. This will keep for several months.