The calendar says that Fall arrived this past Monday, and I really meant to celebrate it with you by posting these photos a few days ago, but this week has been very busy for me. Right on schedule the nights are getting cooler now, but our days are still quite warm. We have had a lot of smoke blow in from some fires that are burning in the national forests. Some fires they just let burn, while monitoring them, to restore the natural ecosystem of the forest. No fire danger for us, but still a lot of smoke to breathe around here.
I grow small tender Pie Pumpkins each year. They differ from the standard field pumpkins that are used for Halloween decorations in that they are smaller, sweeter and not as fibrous.
I roast them by first slicing them in half around their equator, scooping out the seeds and stringy stuff, and then placing them cut side down on an oiled cookie sheet. Roast them until "fork tender". Probably about 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Placing them cut side down on the cookie sheet allows them to steam themselves while in the oven. When cool enough to handle, carefully scoop and scrape the cooked pumpkin flesh away from the skin and into a storage container to puree and then freeze for baking or to eat as you would any winter squash. Of course, you can use it and eat it right away without freezing it first.
These home grown pie pumpkins make wonderful pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread. They taste much fresher and brighter than the canned pumpkin.
Before I discovered the tender and sweet pie pumpkins, I tried to make pumpkin pie from a standard field pumpkin that I grew my first year gardening. The pie was not very sweet and definitely not tender. I find that the field pumpkins are much better for decoration than cooking. Sometimes I still grow those too, but usually only the small pie pumpkins. This year's harvest was smaller than normal. Fewer pumpkins total and each one smaller than I have grown in the past. I think I need to replenish the nutrients in my soil for next year. Organically, of course.
In the photo above you can see a couple of very small ears of sweet corn nestled in with the pie pumpkins. I grew those this year too. My corn stalks were very stunted. They only reached about half the height that they should have, but they did actually produce many tiny ears of corn for me. Most of the ears were not completely populated (filled with kernals), but some were as you can see in the above photo. I've eaten a couple of them so far, one raw standing right in my garden, and one I steamed and dressed with butter. Both were very sweet. Both were very small.
This photo shows what an ear of corn looks like when you neglect to harvest it on time. All of the kernals are dried right on the cob!
Dried Corn on the Cob
I allowed the corn to dry a little more before feeding it to my chickens. Not sure they liked the whole kernals, my old girls are picky and spoiled. I think they like their corn fresh and not dried and chunky.
It's also apple picking time around here. Most of my apples are still on the trees, but I did manage to harvest a couple of baskets of Gala apples so far. Usually they are ripe and ready to pick in late August, but this year they got ready much later. These were harvested in the middle of September.
They taste great. I need to get outside and harvest all the rest of my apples before the weather turns cold and before the birds and other beasties find them.
Farmer, gardener, baker, cook, massage therapist, cat & chicken Mom, partner & business owner. Sells earth friendly products for you and your home, including natural soap, candles, body balms, cat toys, cat beds & many other handmade crafts.
This Harvest Basket is a collection from mountain rural life, the everyday wonders of nature and the forest, my vegetable & herb gardens, fruit & nut trees, chickens, kitty cats & my loving partners. My endeavor to live a natural, healthy and peaceful life on my 3 acres in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills also includes home cooking, baking, canning & crafts. Join me on my journey of learning and growing each day. I will share my Mountain Harvest with you.