by D.A. Salazar, WSU Master Gardener-San Juan County
At last, the hard slog of the year begins to pay off. We actually had a real summer in the Northwest this year, spending endless hours in the sun with the barn swallows and yellowjackets, all busily creating opportunities in the garden (who knows when we’ll have a summer like this again) and working ourselves to happy exhaustion. Just as these long days begin to wane, the season bursts open with every beautiful, delectable thing we can think of: It’s harvest time!
This month, some recipes for produce that don’t produce for long, from our friends at Puget Sound Fresh. A comparatively slim NW harvest season for these babies means we’d better get out there quick and make the most of them.
Click on the recipe links to open that recipe’s page at Puget Sound Fresh.
You’d think that, with everything they put us through — the thorns, the rampant growth, the rust and botrytis, the thorns, the canes that grab hold and seem to want to eat us humans alive, and, y’know, the thorns — blackberries would have the decency to give us a longer harvest. But, no. Like a spoiled princess who’s only nice on her own birthday, blackberries are all pain for most of the year, and sweetness for a moment. But what a glorious moment! Be it the petulant invasive Himalayan, the plumptious Marionberry, the deep rich Obsidian, these succulent little globes of deliciousness are impossible to resist.
Remember the first time you tasted a plum plucked right off the tree? The sweet juice dribbling down your chin and making your fingers sticky, and putting all those mushy store-bought “plums” to shame? In many neighborhoods of our little corner of the Northwest, we know of many old plum trees never pruned or thinned — abandoned? volunteers? — yet laden heavy with bite-sized dark red fruits, dropping so many in a day that they stain the ground below.
This recipe calls for dried plums. The most well-known varieties for drying are the Europeans, such as Italian Prune, French, or Brooks, but generally, firm freestone varieties will work.
With its graceful leaves and fine, pretty blossoms, the green bean may be one of the most satisfying edibles to grow. Don’t be fooled by its good looks: This plant is a veritable workhorse in the garden, with a consistent yield that keeps on giving as fast as you can pick ’em. Plus, of course, it’s a legume. So it’s good-looking, prolific, and a natural soil enhancer. Can we really begrudge its short season, when it works this hard?
Blueberries and More
Sure, they make us wait, taking up to eight years to become fully bearing, but blueberries repay our patience with an abundance of fruit and a long lifespan — some plants continuing to produce at 50 years of age. Plus, they’re fun! Grab a quick handful off the bush and you’ve got a delightful treat to pop right in your mouth.
Everbearing Strawberries, too, are coming to the end of their season, while Fall Raspberries launch us into the next round of harvest. Celebrate the full cycle with this multi-berry sauce — meant for ice cream or shortcake, but who’s to stop you from grabbing a spoon and eating it straight out of the mixing bowl?
About Puget Sound Fresh
Puget Sound Fresh was launched in 1998 by King County in close partnership with the King County Agriculture Commission to assist local farmers in the 12 counties that surround Puget Sound to market their products, enabling them to keep their land in production and encourage development of new farm enterprises. The program provides consumers with resources and tools to help them identify and make informed choices on how to find and purchase seasonal and locally grown, raised or harvested foods.
For more recipes featuring fresh produce grown in the Puget Sound area, as well as where to find farms, farmers markets and CSA’s near you, visit Puget Sound Fresh.
*Dried Plum and Garnet Yam Tsimmes calls for Chinese 5-spice powder. If you can’t find it in stores, it’s a mix of ground peppercorns, star anise, fennel, cinnamon and cloves.