mad stash: everything into the pot, freezer, cellar

THE GARDEN IS QUOTING RUDYARD KIPLING AT ME, invoking a list of “if’s” as I survey what’s left to gather before coming cold renders the remaining possibilities moot. Can I keep my head when all about me—every vegetable and herb, every apple—are losing theirs? Can I stay ahead of impending weather (and find just a bit more room in the freezer)? It’s Mad Stash Week of Fall Fest, and that’s the Kipling-esque question at hand: Can I keep my head?

“If you can force us to ripen,” the few lingering tomatoes seem to say, “we dare you to do so.”  (Apparently they don’t know I have my ripening tricks.) “If not,” they add, “then give up already and make us into green tomato-apple mincemeat, or pickle us, won’t you?”

“If instead of letting repeat frosts have their way,” the parsley utters, “you know you’ll be happier with me tucked safely in the freezer in those things you call your parsley logs.”

“If you can figure out what to do with me,” a particularly raggedy row of kale (apparently visited by a cabbage-worm convention) says in a shrill and challenging tone, and I think, Hey, don’t get fresh with me!

Yes I can, dear kale, because once you’re blended into a soup—perhaps a puree with sweet potatoes and sage and greens, or of white beans and pumpkin and greens—nobody will even know about the holes that once marked you.

Or maybe you will become stock—that’s it, vegetable stock, the alchemical elixir wherein knobby carrots, gnawed-upon greens, and onions or garlic who refused to cure well enough to last the winter in storage all turn into liquid heaven. I’ll make more stock to freeze. (I also add cabbage, a little ginger, some winter squash, kombu seaweed, daikon radish and turnip or parsnip if I have them all.)

“And what about us?” a tower of ‘Scarlet Runner’ beans shouts from across the garden, just as I think I am catching my breath. “What about us?”

The rest of you can wait, I say, grabbing just a handful of the big, fat green pods to use in my broth-to-be. You can wait because your beautiful purple and black mottled beans will be just fine dried right in place, even if I don’t get to you for weeks.

If I can waste nothing—if I can just freeze the last peppers, and even some garlic;

Get the potatoes into storage in just the right spot, and the onions (top photo), too;

Do a last batch of pesto—and not just basil, but of other herbs, like sage and chives and cilantro;

Juice the last fallen apples (above) in the old Acme machine, and freeze it in wide-mouth jars—as good as any cider….

Yes, garden, yes—if I can do these things I’ll feel like all is right in the world.  Or at least in my corner of it.

Mad Stash Recipes from My Foodie Friends

What’s a Fall Fest?

FALL FEST IS A cross-blog recipe (and tip) swap–and you’re invited to participate. Simply post your link or recipe or idea in the comments below my post, and also on the blogs of the other participants listed in the recipe links box just above.

Want more information on how it all works? Get the details (and the schedule for upcoming weeks, including our shift into Fall Fest after many weeks of Summer Fest, with a new logo but the same recipe-sharing routine). We’re continuing right into the Thanksgiving holiday.

  1. Michelle B says:

    While you are losing your head, you are feeding ours.

    Some of the more productive Roma tomato plants have made it to the root cellar (while their buddies are chopped up on the hot pile), dangling their green oblongs which are festooned along the top of the wine racks at me every time I come rushing in, fearful that since I yet again left open overnight one of the two small windows, the dormice have gotten their way with the Golden Delicious apples or frostbite with the potimarrons.

    Late summer and early fall here in the Southwest of France is a time not only for harvesting but of also of planting second crops–radishes, mache, spinach, scallions, leeks, escarole, Romaine, garlic, etc. And being vigilant for the odd, occasional night freeze so that is why the flat leaf parsley patch is covered with two thicknesses of winter fleece.

  2. Estyn says:

    I roasted green tomatoes with sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic. Delicious over couscous with dried cranberries (thanks Anna Thomas), and strengthening enough to fuel some turf-removal and perennial planting.

  3. barefootmeg says:

    My onions had reverted back to bulbs (the greens died off) and then just about a month or two ago they sprouted all over again and the greens are still on them. I can’t harvest them like that, can I? Where did I go wrong? Why are my onions so confused? If I leave them in the ground can I just dig them up next year when the tops have died off?

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Meg. I think the key is to harvest them when they are fully bulbed up (and the tops are dying down), not to leave them in the ground (since they will get confused and sort of try to act like perennials). Is that what happened — you didn’t pull them and cure them (dry them off out of the ground) but left them in place? They need that pulling/curing to say “stop now” or else they just keep trying to cycle onward.

  4. So I haven’t done much pickling (or jamming before), but I do keep a well-stocked winter freezer for when the cold weather saps my motivation. And, I freeze treats – i.e. Homemade Applesauce. I didn’t sweat it out in the orchard for nothing!

    I make Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup (and store it in portion-size batches in the freezer) and Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagna, which also freezes well (take that Stouffer’s!). Curried Pumpkin Pie Soup is another fave.

  5. Kathleen says:

    I live in Florida and the Stash is not that often. I made a wonderful berry sauce for cakes, ice cream, etc. for this week:

  6. I’m in a mad stash all year long with whatever’s in season that I would like to have on hand later. At this time of year, I’m still focused on the last tomatoes and preserving herbs before the big frost does them in completely. Here’s my final effort on the tomato front: sweet ketchup from the Tigress Can Jam and a tomato-based fiery hot sauce.
    http://200birdies.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/last-call-for-tomatoes-sweet-ketchup-and-a-hot-sauce/ Thanks so much for the Fall Fest!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Rachel. Sounds like a busy, and tasty, week. I haven’t dried apples in years but your remind me how nice they can be to have on hand for snacks. Thanks.

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