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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Processing tomatoes for juice and sauces

Photos are below. 
To date, this is the easiest method for processing tomatoes.
  1. Prep tomatoes by rinsing and cutting in half (and veggies if you like a V8 kind of juice and sauce).
  2. Put in crock pot on high until clear liquid is visible and veggies are cooked tender.
  3. Prep containers for tomato juice. I use wide mouth canning jars because you can throw these in the freezer.
  4. Place a canning funnel on top of one container and place a sieve on top of the canning funnel. My FAVORITE sieve is one that the handle broke off because it does not fall out of the funnel.
  5. Remove the clear liquid with a solid food measuring cup and run liquid through sieve and funnel to fill containers. This is your juice. You can add salt, lemon, sugar... then chill.
  6. When you cannot remove any more liquid, cool the solids by removing the crock from the crock pot and placing on a cooling rack.
  7. Process cooled solids through a food mill. Scoop out with the same measuring cup used for the juice to save on dishes. Use these solids are tomato sauce. 

Personal note: In my lifetime I have owned a very expensive Kitchen Aide mixer with all the attachments plus an expensive Squeezo, however I have sold them because I love my $50.00 OXO Good Grips Food Mill so much.

This mill does take some getting used to how it latches and the order things go, but it far surpasses everything I have owned so far:
  • My Kitchen Aide I had to stand on a ladder to get high enough to put items in and the "pusher" sent tomatoes everywhere in the kitchen. 
  • The Squeezo leaked at every joint and I still had to stand on a step to reach the hopper comfortably.
I use my OXO Good Grips Food Mill by placing it in my sink over a large bowl. It is easy to add solids to and work the crank working from above. You will need to do small batches, but it is worth it. To top all this off, IT IS DISHWASHER SAFE. Crank it in both directions to get the most out of your solids. Remember to compost the remains!





Blackberries below. 


Parts of the food mill. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Class this week is cancelled

The "prepping the garden for summer" class is cancelled for this Saturday. I have a cough that just won't go away and talking only makes it worse.

My tentative plans are to combine the summer prepping and summer growing in the June class but stay tuned.

Veggie Casserole


Start with a layer of rye bread. It really does make a difference in how this tastes. I forgot to take a photo. Add layers of veggies you have on hand: tomatoes, onions, peppers, baby pumpkins, carrots, eggplant, I threw in some canned mushrooms. Bake until fork comes out tender then sprinkle with cheese and serve. Soy sauce is my condiment of choice for this dish. 

Passion and Peaches


 More good, bad, and ugly.

Again, my passion vine died. Literally rotted at the soil line with the help of insects. I don't think I will do passion again unless I grow from seed. It is disappointing when you buy a plant every couple of years and only get one harvest. Plus that harvest was early, they didn't fully ripen. 

Peaches are in full swing. Florida peaches are smaller than the northern variety but they taste the same. The birds must have decided my tomatoes were better to eat so they are leaving the peaches. I do have insects inside so I am picking them when they just turn pink, cutting off the flesh and removing any dark spots, then nuking for a few minutes before freezing in snack bags for smoothies. If you let them ripen on the counter, they are unusable if you have worms inside. Next year I will work on a spray program or just do this again.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Potato Disapointment

Seventh year in a row with regular Irish-type potatoes and they are still a massive disappointment. We have changed plant dates, varieties, watering routines, soil mixes, pH, sprays, ant controls...

If you have this figured out for SWFL, please let me know because we will no longer be growing these.

My favorite carrot-in-a-pot two years running

Unwashed, fresh from the garden, and MUCH larger than they appear in the photo...

Chantenay Red Core Carrot

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Are you growing Lychee or Longan?

I am NOT but I wanted to share this with anyone wanting more information...



DATE: Tuesday, April 17th, 2018


LOCATION: WEBINAR – on-line access

TARGET AUDIENCE – Commercial growers

Link to the meeting on Zoom –

Note – you may need to download Zoom first.


2PM Dr. Daniel Carrillo Introduction and Welcome

2:05PM Dr. Daniel Carrillo Current situation and description of the erinose lychee mite and damage caused

2:30PM Dr. Jonathan Crane Current control recommendations
Commercial growers
Urban – homeowners with lychee trees

2:50PM Questions and Answers

Jonathan H. Crane, Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist

University of Florida, IFAS

Tropical Research and Education Center

18905 SW 280 St.

Homestead, FL 33031-3314

Tel: 786-217-9271

Fax: 305-246-7003

Cel: 786-255-5878

Faculty page:


Course offering:

Laurel Wilt:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Ugly

I promise to show the ugly in the garden as well as the beauty.

This is what birds did to my peaches and nectarines.

What am I am doing about it?

Picking them as soon as they start to blush with a pink color. That means checking twice a day. I allow them to ripen on the counter which is less than perfect but it means we will have peaches.

What do I plan to do in the future about it?

Trim my trees WAY back so that I can get either netting, pinwheels, tinsel, or a dog involved next year.

Friday, April 6, 2018

What to do with all the Eggplant

This round of eggplant was planted late last year and is in full production now. While we use what we can fresh, we also don't want to waste the surplus. 

How to freeze Eggplant 
Pierce fruit so it does not explode in the oven.
Bake at 350ยบ until fruit collapses.
Remove skin.

My freeze method
Place cooked eggplant in a gallon bag and don't fill it very full. Remove air and zip closed. Squish/flatten contents. Freeze flat or fold in half and freeze. This allows me to break off pieces and use instead of having to use the entire contents at one time. 

Add to soups, meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, and more. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Summer Crops to Plant NOW

*parts of these plants are poisonous or should be prepared in a special manner

Basket Vine/Haitian basket vine/hoop vine*
Bitter Cucumber/bitter gourd/bitter melon/Balsam pear/Sopropo
Brazilian Spinach
Bunching Onion/Welsh onion/Japanese bunching onion
Ceylon Spinach (Talinum triangulare) AKA Waterleaf, Philippine Spinach
Chaya/Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)*
Cherry Tomatoes (NOT pear) (nightshade family)*
CowPea/Adzuki Bean, Southern Pea
Cranberry Hibiscus/False Roselle/Maroon mallow/Red-Shield hibiscus (invasive)
Edible Hibiscus
Eggplant/Aubergine/melongene/brinjal/guinea squash (nightshade family)*
Egyptian Spinach
Ethiopian Kale/African Cabbage/Abyssinian cabbage
Garlic Chives/Chinese chives
Hot Peppers (nightshade family)*
Jicama/yam bean*
Katuk/star gooseberry/sweet leaf/leaf vegetable/tropical asparagus
Lagos Spinach/Quail Grass*
Lettuce (under shade)
Lima Beans
Longevity Spinach/Moluccan spinach/ Dawn Dewa (Gynura nepalensis)
Malabar Spinach Basella/Indian Spinach/Vine Spinach/Country Spinach… and many other names.
Moringa/Horseradish Tree/Drumstick/The Miracle Plant
Okinawa Spinach
Okra/Lady’s Finger/Gumbo
Pigeon Pea/Gandule bean/tropical green pea/kadios/ Congo pea/ gungo pea/ gunga pea/no-eye pea
Prickly Pear Cactus/Opuntia/nopales/paddle cactus
Purple Lablab/Hyacinth Bean
Purslane (edible weed highest in omega-3s)
Roselle/Florida cranberry (Hibiscus Tea)
Seminole Pumpkin/Tropical Pumpkin
Sesame Seeds
Sugar Cane
Sunset Hibiscus/aibika/sunset muskmallow/hibiscus manihot
Sweet Potatoes
Tropical Lettuce/Indian Lettuce
Tropical Pumpkins
Water Chestnut
Winged Beans
Yams (NOT “Wild” or “Bitter” or “Air Potato”)*
Yard Long Beans/Bora/Long-Podded Cowpea/Asparagus Bean/Chinese Long Bean