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Quote of the Day: Preserving

September 13th, 2015

It is the natural course of events for food to be abundant for a little window in time. Blackberries will be lusciously ripe for just a couple weeks. Rich porcini flush quickly as the rain comes. They won’t wait for your schedule. Be it pickling or jelly making,r ally yourself for gathering and deal yourself into the working game in your kitchen. BEtter yet, deal in some friends or family too: have a working party. Putting up food together links you with thousands of years of human traditions. And it’s a blast.”

Connie Green and Sarah Scott The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

This past week a lot of the garden has been at maximum production. It doesn’t matter how I plan, it seems everything comes ripe at once, and always before a trip or some other big event. The result is LONG days of frantically putting up food for the depths of winter.

Preserving the harvest 4
Preserving the harvest 3
This has been one of my best tomato years every, the bounty just keeps coming. So far I’ve canned around 40 pints of tomato soup, 15 quarts of tomatoes, along with putting a bushel in the freezer to be made into sauce when there is more time. I have also been drying my ‘Principe Borghese’ tomatoes, which are perfection. I grow this variety just for drying and I dry as many racks as I can. They are amazing in omelets and sprinkled on top of pizza.
Preserving the harvest 1
Preserving the harvest 5
My late flush of zucchini and beans are coming on strong, I did the first picking of beans yesterday and put a gallon of blanched haricots verts in the freezer. Zucchini was cubed and blanched, and grated as well, both varieties are tucked away in the freezer to be added to winter soups and frittatas.
Preserving the harvest 2
The apple trees are also producing by the bushel this year. One variety is ready even though I am not. I picked a half bushel for eating and then froze the rest to be turned into apple butter and some applesauce for Mr Chiots. Yesterday, I managed to preserve over 150 lbs of homegrown fruits and vegetables for us to feast on this winter. Not only will I save a bundle on my groceries, we’ll be eating healthfully as well. The satisfaction of nourishing yourself is an amazing feeling!

What are you putting by for winter?

Roasted Tomato Passata

September 24th, 2014

I’ve been making this version of tomato sauce for years, ever since I got The River Cottage Preserves Handbook five years ago. It’s quick and easy and tastes AMAZING. Many of you asked for the recipe so here it is.
roasting tomatoes
(adapted from The River Cottage Preserves)

4.5 pounds of ripe tomatoes
7 ounces of thinly sliced shallots or onions
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
a few sprigs of various herbs, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary,
(I use one sprig of each if I have them)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cut tomatoes and place them cut side up in a single layer in a shallow dish. Scatter onions and garlic slices over the tomatoes, tuck herbs down under the tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top, drizzle with olive oil and put in over. Bake for 1.5 or 2 hours.

Remove from oven, put into pan and bring to a slow simmer, cook until shallots are soft. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Pul through food mill with medium sized place, you want the seeds to be strained out but want a bit of texture to remain.

Proceed to can as you would tomato sauce, I did mine for 40 mine in a waterbath canner for pints. Check your favorite canning book for guidelines for canning tomato sauce.

roasting tomatoes (1)
roasting tomatoes (2)
This recipe is great because it can be used for pasta sauce, pizza sauce, it can be thinned with chicken stock to make a delicious tomato soup. I love the rich flavor, it’s well worth the effort to roast the tomatoes.

What’s your favorite way to use tomato sauce?

Putting up Summer

September 20th, 2014

Yesterday I spent the day getting my roasted tomato passata put up in the jars for this coming winter. I use the recipe from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, which I discovered a few years ago. I like this book because it has recipes that are different than many preserving books, including things for slo gin and other interesting ways of putting up fruits and vegetables.
In My Library Cookbooks 3
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been slow roasting my tomatoes in the oven with shallots, garlic, and herbs. When I finish a double batch, which is the amount that fills up my oven, I have been putting them in the freezer to have a marathon canning day. I ended up making 6 batches of sauce and it took me all night to get them sealed into jars.
One of the things I like about this method is that it smells heavenly, unlike the smell up canning plain tomatoes, which isn’t my favorite. I also like the finished product, it works well for pizza sauce, pasta sauce or it makes a perfect soup if mixed with some chicken stock. If I only had one way to put up tomatoes this would be it, though my tomato soup comes in a close second!

What’s your favorite tomato recipe?

Quote of the Day: Melissa Coleman

September 1st, 2013

Fall arrived with its honey light and cool evenings, and the maple leaves brightened to match the reds and yellow of ripe apples. It was time to put away the bounty of the warm months for fortitude during the cold ones, as humans had done for centuries.

Melissa Coleman (This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone)

I don’t do a lot of canning, but I do love to ferment things. Over the coming weeks I’ll be making batches of fermented cucumber pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented goodies.
Cucumber harvest (1)
These will help augment the root vegetables in the cellar and the bitter winter greens from under the hoop house in the garden throughout the winter. The full-sour dill pickles are probably my favorite fermented food, we gobble them up quickly, eating them at every meal if we have them.

What’s your favorite kind of pickled food?

Round Two

November 8th, 2012

Last year I purchased a box of black mission olives from Chaffin Family Orchard to cure. I tried a few different curing methods and found that the Kalamata style fermented olives were my favorite. No surprise there since Kalamatas are my favorite kind of olive. At first I was skeptical that they’d turn out, curing olives seems like it should be harder than it is. When I tasted my first one I knew I’d be curing my own olives for the rest of my life.

This year I decided to add green olives to my curing routine. A large box was ordered from Chaffin Family Orchard and it arrived last Saturday. These are much larger than the mission olives so they don’t take as long to cut for curing. Last year I felt like I was cutting for ages, but these only took about an hour to get all the olives in their respective soaking liquids.

If you don’t like olives, make sure you try traditionally cured ones before your write them off completely. I never liked olives when my only experience was with those little black rounds that come from a can. Then I tasted my first Kalamata and was hooked. Don’t even let me near one of those olive bars at the fancy grocery stores!

I saved a few olives out hoping to make a how-to video. Curing olives is one of those things that is intimidating but is actually really simple. Hopefully I can encourage more people to try it at home. Not only are they delicious and healthy, you can save some serious money curing your own olives! I’ll happily spend a few hours curing 20 pounds of olives so I can eat organic olives all year long. I also know a few people who would love to receive olives as gifts.

Olives – love them or leave them? Which is your favorite kind/color?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.