Random stuff I tried last year that came out great--
Last year I made pickled dilly beans (both greeen and yellow). A friend said her family magic pickle tip was to put a grape leaf in the jar. I did this(the leaves were from a green table grape vine) and they were delicious!!! You can definately taste a slight grapey note, almost balsamic-y.
Also I dried tomatoes for the first time(romas), and they came out awesome. I dried them on a window screen in the hot sun, and kept them in a bag in the freezer. Awesome on pizza, in bread, salads, soup etc.
Also made relish with green tomatos instead of cukes(cukes are hard for me to grow), now I don't feel so bad at missing cukes.
Made lots of different chutneys, and they are great with peanut butter and bread instead of the regular PBJ. Also great as a sauce for chicken and sauted veggies over rice(or some grain).
I had a happy discovery when I was saving tomatoes for sauce by freezing them whole--if I let them thaw in the bag first, them dumped the bag into a sieve to drain off the water, the freezing process draws a lot of the water out from the tomato as it thaws(you'll see how it gets watery in the bag). Then when you make the sauce you don't have to take so much time(and energy) simmering it down to thicken, and also you don't risk that off burnt taste from too much simmering. I just threw them in whole, no skinning, and whizzed them with a stick blender after they simmered awhile. The skins disappeared, and I'm thinking the freezing breaks the skins down so they "melt" into the sauce better(whatever, it worked great).
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That tomato trick is great, especially if the time of year for putting up tomatoes coincides with the time of year to begin heating the house! The tomatoes can be dried a little in the sun, then the latent heat in them can be drawn out by the freezer, and used to keep the house warm overnight.
I also recently learned that most dilly bean recipes work great if garlic scapes are substituted for both beans & garlic cloves.
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