4 Ways to Save & Ripen Green Tomatoes

how to ripen green tomatoes

I was NOT happy…

…when I found out it was supposed to snow several weeks ago. The calendar had *just* turned to September, and I was not ready to pull out my muck boots and coats. Not to mention this was the first year in a long time that my garden was actually thriving!

So after I finished my little homesteader temper-tantrum, I realized I was faced with a very real problem: what to do with all of my lovely tomato plants, loaded down with very green roma tomatoes…

I agonized over this decision more than I care to admit. Part of me wanted to ignore the weather warnings and take my chances that the supposed snow storm would skip us. But my more cautious side won out, and after asking all the smart folks on The Prairie Homestead Facebook page, I came up with a plan of action to save my poor green tomatoes.

And I’m glad I did–it snowed several inches that night. Thankfully, I’m still enjoying fresh, homegrown tomatoes, weeks after our freak snowstorm, due to the measures I took. Here’s what I did:

how to save green tomatoes

How to Ripen (or Save) Green Tomatoes

You have a couple of different options when dealing with green tomatoes. Being the curious blogger-type that I am, I decided to experiment with several of these choices . Here are all the juicy details—>

1. Cover ‘em.

I’ll be honest–this option scared me a bit, and I worried my my rag-tag collection of sheets and quilts wouldn’t be enough. But, I decided to try it anyway.

I covered some of my plants with sheets, and then topped them with quilts. I tucked the ends of the blankets around the plants to seal them in as much as possible, used clothespins to pinch up the edges and corners, said a little prayer, and walked back into the house for the evening.… [Continue Reading]

7 Things Every First Time Gardener Should Know

New Gardener Cover 3

As gardening season wraps up here at The Prairie Homestead, I always like to take stock of the lessons I learned this season and what I can improve for next year. I’m thrilled to be welcoming Tiffany from Don’t Waste the Crumbs to the blog today as she shares some of her hard-learned lessons and tips!

Last Christmas, my step-mom gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received: four big buckets, a pair of gloves, a watering can and a gift card for dirt.

After paying off debt that surmounted to a small mortgage, my family settled on eating real food on a tiny budget (just $330 each month for a family of four). We want to eat more organic produce, but sometimes it doesn’t fit in the budget between the free-range eggs and organic chicken. In order to help off-set the costs, I wanted to start a garden.

Her gift was the exact push I needed to create my own urban garden in my small backyard, and immediately learned several ways to get the most out of a garden without spending a lot of money.

She gave me a few pieces of advice, like what breed of tomatoes worked best in our cool climate and that if I had to choose between less sun or less wind, choose less wind. But now that I’ve been tending my urban garden for about three months, there are a few other small tidbits that I wish someone had passed on as well.

So to all my fellow first-time gardeners out there, here are seven things you should know before you jump in and get your hands too dirty.

7 Things Every First Time Gardener Should Know

1. Plants need water and water’s not free.

That is, unless you have a well.… [Continue Reading]

Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate

chai tea concentrate

The cravings started earlier than normal this year…

I’m blaming it on our cooler-than-normal summer, and our early snow (YES, it snowed two weeks ago… *facepalm*), but I’m already hankering for sweaters, and fires in the stove, and chai tea.

Especially the chai tea.

I’m kind of a picky chai drinker… The chai tea bags you can grab in the tea aisle don’t quite cut it for me. And the pre-made concentrates are often filled with junk ingredients… So what’s a chai-aholic to do?

homemade chai tea concentrate

Make it herself, of course!

I tried a bunch of different chai tea concentrate formulas before I tweaked it enough to finally come up with this one. You’ll find it’s pleasantly sweet and spicy, yet not overpowering. You can absolutely adjust the level of sweetener, so feel free to adjust it as necessary to fit your tastes.

It’s pretty much autumn in a cup. Oh yeah…

chai tea concentrate

Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate

Yield: Approximately one quart of chai concentrate

You Will Need: 

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Instructions:

In a medium pot, bring the water and sweetener to a boil and simmer until the sweetener is fully dissolved.

homemade chai tea concentrate

Add all of the spices, and continue to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the heat, add the tea bags, and let them steep for 10 minutes.… [Continue Reading]

How to Can Pears Without Sugar

how to can pears without sugar

I’m a lazy canner you guys…

I adore canning and especially love surveying the pretty rows of brightly colored jars when I’m finished, but you can bet that if I can safely take a “shortcut,” I will.

Take my home-canned applesauce for example. The vast majority of applesauce recipes insist you peel the apples first. But if you’re me, you simply quarter them, core them, and toss them in the pot, peels and all. (And if you have a food mill, it gets even easier!)

When I decided to can pears last weekend, I was slightly dismayed to find that all the recipes called for peeling (not an easy task with a slippery, slimy pear) and then batch-cooking the fruit in heavy sugar syrups.

how to can pears

Blah.

This was not fitting with my lazy highly-efficient style of canning…

So I decided to make some adjustments. Now, generally, canning recipes are NOT something you want to adjust too much, as usually the “rules” are in place to keep the food safe to eat (for example–getting rebellious and canning low-acid food in a water bath canner instead of a pressure canner is a BAD idea).

However, after a little research I determined the edits I wanted to make would still allow me to produce SAFE canned pears with a bit less work. Score!

You’ll find two main changes in this recipe:

1) I did not peel my pears. Most people choose to peel them to avoid the grainy texture, but honestly, this doesn’t bother me too much. You can definitely still peel them if you like, or you can just be lazy like me and leave them intact.

2) I did not use sugar. At all. In many canning recipes, sugar acts as a preserving agent, however in canning peaches and pears, it is just for sweetness, which allows us to safely omit it.… [Continue Reading]