Monday, September 27, 2010

Seed Saving - Tomatoes

Generally seeds saved from open-pollinated or heirloom Tomato varieties breed true to type. Which means you get the same variety from the seed as the one you collected from. But although Tomato flowers are usually self-pollinated, occasionally they may be cross pollinated by insects about 2% of the time. If you want to prevent cross pollination completely 100% you should keep the different varieties about 10' apart. Flowers of older varieties, like some Heirloom Tomatoes, are said to often have longer styles then more modern cultivars. Because it protrudes more it is more accessible to bees and other insects so these varieties have a higher chance of getting cross pollinated.

But what is a typical backyard gardener to do, most of us don't have the garden space to isolate our Tomatoes for 10 feet apart? You could plant either tall barrier plants between the Tomato plants or put another pollen producing crop between the different varieties. Or you just do it as I do, chance it.
After all it is only a small chance of cross pollination and who knows maybe you get a cool, new tomato variety out of the deal.
For seed saving, pick the best looking fruits, from your healthiest looking, best producing plants, when they are fully ripe. It is a good idea to save seeds from several fruits to maintain a larger gene pool. No need to waste a tomato just for saving seeds. When you are ready to process a tomato for eating or cooking, just scratch some of the seed containing pulp into a small glass jar (old jam jars work really great), I usually add just a splash of water and then let it ferment at room temperature.

 Don't put it in an especially warm place. At 80° F the fermentation takes about 2 days, at 70° F about 3 days. If you leave the seeds in the pulp for a longer period you get a better control of bacterial canker, which is a seed borne disease, but you should not let them ferment longer then 5 days or they might start to sprout. Stir the mixture each day and when it's ready, carefully pour most of the liquid with the pulp out, without loosing your seeds. You might have to keep adding water frequently to free the seeds from the pulp. Just add some more water, swirl, pour and do it until the water looks almost clean and there is no more pulp. Now you can strain it all over in a sieve, maybe rinse them some more and drop the seeds into a paper towel. Fold it over and let them dry for 3 to 7 days. After they are dry you can put the seeds in small zip lock bags or jars.

If you are saving seeds of many different cultivars it is advisable to label your jars with the name of the varieties you have. It is easy to get mixed up. Since I ferment several batches, after I am drying the first batch I put the jar with the label with the next batch on top of the corresponding Tomato variety drying in the paper towel.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Plum Cobbler recipe - in English and German

I love anything made with Italian Prune Plums or Zwetschgen as we call them in Germany. I look forward to September every year when they are in Season. I actually really enjoy not to have everything available all year round. I like to eat with the seasons. It is not just much more flavor full when it finally comes around it also makes you really appreciate the food and the seasons.

             Here is the Fruit Cobbler recipe made with Plums

Comments: This can be made with any fruit really, with denser Fruit like Apple, Plums...etc. I put the fruit in the baking dish and bake it for 20-30minutes before I add the cobbler mix on top and then bake it some more to finish. But most fruit you just add to baking dish, add the cobbler dough on top and then bake.

Recipe By     :Isabell Norman
Serving Size  : 6     Preparation Time: 0:15 min. Baking time: 0:20 and 0:30 min.                  
24                 Plums, pitted - Zwetschgen, entkernt, -- or more if you like
2   Tbsp        sugar-Zucker, I used Rapadura Sugar from Rapunzel  --
                    (this can be reduced or omitted if you wish)
1   tl              fresh Orange peel, grated - Orangenschale, gerieben
2   tbsp         Butter cut into small flakes- flockig geschnitten                  
For Dough - Teig
125  g           Flour, I used 1/2 white whole wheat  and whole wheat -
                     1/2 Weisses Vollweizen und  1/2 Vollkornmehl
1   Tsp           baking powder - Backpulver
2  Tbsp          Sugar - Zucker, Rapadura Sugar
50   g             Butter cut into small pieces - Butter, kleingeschnitten
1                    egg, lightly beaten - Ei, leicht geschlagen
2-3  Tbsp       Milk - Milch
1   Tbsp         Turbinado sugar - grober Brauner Zucker

Use a 1 1/2 liter baking dish, I use my Anchor Ware glass containers, I think it's 2 liter
-Du brauchst eine 1-1/2 liter grosse Auflaufform. Ich benutze meine Anchor Ware glass container in
denen man auch backen kann ungefaehr 2 liter Groesse.

Grease your baking form with some butter, pit the plums and cut them open flat and layer them upright into the pan
-Auflaufform mit etwas Butter einfetten, Plaumen entsteinen und wie bei Zwetschgenkuchen in die Form einlegen.

If you like it a bit sweeter now sprinkle the 2 tablespoon Sugar or as much you like over the plum, then also the Orange peel and add little butterflakes all over the plums
-Jetzt kann der Zucker nach belieben ueber die Plaumen gestreut werden, die Orangenschale darueber gestreut und die Butter in Floeckchen auf diePflaumen gesetzt

Preheat Oven to 350° F  or if convection to 325° F and put the baking form with the plums inside while it preheats. Let it bake for 20 minutes
-Ofen zu 180° C vorheizen, oder bei Convection Ofen auf 170° C und die Auflaufform mit den Pflaumen in den Ofen tun waehrend der Ofen vorheizt. Backe die Pflaumen vor, fuer ungefaehr 20 minuten.

In the meantime measure your flour, baking powder, sugar and mix altogether in a mixing bowl. Add the Butter pieces and work the butter with your fingers in until it looks like fine Bread crumbs.
-In der Zwischenzeit wiege das Mehl, Backpulver, Zucker ab und misch es miteinander in einer Ruehrschuessel. Gebe die Butterstueckchen dazu und arbeite die Butter mit den Fingern ein bis es wie feine Brotkruemel aussieht.

Make a indention in the flour mix and with a knife, mix in the lightly beaten egg and just enough milk so it makes a soft dough.
-In die Mitte der Mehlmischung eine Mulde druecken. Mit einem Messer das leicht geschlagene Ei und soviel Milch einruehren, dass eine weiche Masse entsteht.

Spread the dough in spoonfuls all over the Plums, until it is all  covered. Then sprinkle the Turbinado sugar all over it and put back in Oven. Bake for 30 more minutes or until it is golden brown and baked through.
-Teig loeffelweise auf der Oberflaeche verteilen, bis sie vollstaendig bedeckt ist. Mit dem Turbinado Zucker bestreuen und zurueck in den Backofen geben. 30 Minuten mehr backen bis alles gold braun gebacken ist und durchgebacken ist. Mit staebchenprobe testen.

Best served while still warm. You can serve whipped cream, Vanilla ice cream or Egg cream with it. I just like it as is
-Am besten serviert wenn es noch warm ist. Man kann den Cobbler mit Schlagsahne, Vanilleeis oder Eiercreme servieren. Ich mag es einfach nur so, pur.

Nutrition (calculated from recipe ingredients)----------------------------------------------
Calories: 345 Calories   From Fat: 112   Total Fat: 12.7g   Cholesterol: 63.8mg   Sodium: 80.4mg   Potassium: 546.1mg
Carbohydrates: 57g   Fiber: 6.3g   Sugar: 37.7g   Protein: 6g

Cooking Tip: This is really very versatile. Use any fruit you like, mix the fruit. Use different spicing, flavorings. Cinnamon is good in it, or Coriander, Cardamom, Lemon, Vanilla. Just experiment. Don't reduce the sugar or butter in the dough or it will not come out properly, But you always can reduce the sugar, butter or even omit them on the fruit if you like less sugar. Most fruits are sweet enough you don't need it.
-Das ist ein sehr leicht veraenderbares Rezept. Benutze was immer eine Frucht du hast, mische verschiedene Fruechte miteinander. Benutze andere Gewuerze, Aromas. Zimt ist sehr gut, oder Koriander, Kardamom,Zitrone, Vanille. Experiment damit. Tu nicht den Zucker oder die Butter imTeig verringern oder es wird nicht richtig herauskommen. Aber du kannst immer den Zucker, die Butter auf der Frucht verringern oder sogar weglassen. Die meisten Fruechte sind suess genug, dass man es nicht braucht.


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