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What To Do With Those End-of-Summer Garden Leftovers

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Oh summer, we left you behind and now we’re one step closer to dreadful winter. Thankfully we still have fall, which is a wonderful season. Especially here in my own little corner of the midwest, where the tree leaves turn shades of fiery red and burnt orange. That’s right, it’s harvest season! What a great thing to look forward to. Many of us took great pleasure in the extended summer weather we had this year, well into October. These warm fall days have allowed us extra time to enjoy our fresh veggies and herbs from the garden. Which I have been busy drying, freezing, and just consuming in large doses before the first frost comes.

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So what to do with all the extra basil, cilantro and peppers? Oh and lets not forget about the extra mint and rosemary! This year we enjoyed countless fresh organic salads and salsas thanks to {our} garden. I refer to it as {our} garden because I had very little to do with making it happen. You see, this small but plentiful garden would not have been possible without the time invested by my wonderful boyfriend. He weeded, planted and watered regularly. So I’m thankful for his vision and for sharing these fruits with me! I promise I’ll help plant next year! 🙂

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Moving on – I put together a list of things to do with the different herbs and fruits from {our} garden this year. And I wanted to share this post with all of you just in case you’re also wondering what to do with all these bountiful gifts of nature before they’re gone. Whatever it is you decide to do with these delicious herbs, fruits and vegetables from your garden, consider some of my suggestions. And please do share your own ideas with me and the rest of the blogosphere!

As always…. ¡Buen provecho!

BASIL

1. Make pestoHere’s a simple recipe that my mom shared with me. Plus you can make a couple extra batches and freeze it for winter!

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2. Dry and keep in your spice rack – Wash all the basil and pat dry with a paper towel carefully so you don’t rip the leaves off. Then group the basil in sets of three stems. Use thread or string to tie each set together at the bottom end of the stems. Then hang each set upside down from a beam in your basement or anywhere in your house away from direct sunlight and wind. It might take up to two weeks, but once it’s completely dry, take it down and crush the leaves with your hands. Dispose of the stems and put your dry basil leaves in an air-tight jar. You should also keep it in your cupboard away from heat and direct light, along with your other spices.

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CILANTRO

1. Chop and freeze – I washed all the fresh cilantro and chopped the leaves (and the stems) very finely. Then I filled an ice cube tray with about 1 TBSP of chopped cilantro in each cube. I Added a tiny bit of water, so the leaves would stick together and put the tray in the freezer. Within a few hours I had cilantro ice cubes! I Popped them out and stored in a labeled zip bag inside my freezer. TIP: Any time you have a recipe that calls for cilantro you already have the pre-measured amount in each cube. Drop a frozen cilantro cube directly into your hummus or soups for added flavor.

2. Make salsa – If you’re reading this, chances are you, or someone you know has more garden tomatoes than they know what to do with. So don’t fret when your neighbor leaves a basket-full at your doorstep, embrace the freebie! My mom always has salsa in her kitchen because she’ll make large batches during tomato season and freeze in small containers. It thaws really fast when you need it!

MINT

1. Dry for tea – I collected all the mint I could possibly cut without leaving the plants totally bare. Then I rinsed off the sprigs carefully with water and laid them on dish towels to dry for a couple hours. Once they were dry, I gathered the stems into bunches and tied together at the bottom with string. Then hung them in the closet, away from people and windows. A friend gave me the tip of covering the mint with a brown paper bag, so it doesn’t turn black. It took less than a week to completely dry. Then I crumpled the leaves and put them in my old Fossil watch’s aluminum tin. Better than recycling it!

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2. Blend and freeze – My grandmother Chuy is known to come up with some of the most refreshing and genius recipes for agua fresca. (A drink made out of part concentrated fruit juice, part water, served cold). When she was visiting this summer she made us spearmint and lime agua fresca, which is a concoction of lime juice, fresh spearmint, water and sugar. To prepare for winter I blended different types of mint from the garden: spearmint, apple mint and peppermint with very little water. Then I poured this mixture into ice cube trays and put them in the freezer. TIP: Perfect for making hot and cold teas. Usually just about one ice cube per cup of water will do the trick.

ROSEMARY

1. Make this – Herb & Cayenne Roasted Chicken.

2. Dry the leaves – I followed these instructions. My dried rosemary will really come in handy when I make stuffing for the holidays!

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HOT PEPPERS {Purple Jalapeños}

1. Roast and freeze – I don’t know where my wonderful boyfriend came up with these peppers but they are suuuper hot! I’d actually never had them before until they popped up in {our} garden this summer. Turns out they’re a variation of jalapeño called “purple jalapeños”… a very complex name. I roasted them on the stove, put them in a plastic zip bag and froze them. TIP: You might want to open up the windows when you roast these peppers because they release a very strong and delicious spicy aroma that tickles your throat.

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2. Make salsa! – These bad boys are dangerous if not handled properly. I only used 1/2 of one pepper to make a cup of salsa, that’s how hot they are…although I could have used a whole pepper if it was just for me, but I’m trying to ease Mr. Wonderful into the world of spice. Lucky him 🙂

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About Maribel

Bilingual digital media and marketing pro | blogger| foodie | fashionista | philanthropist #NotTheCoolGirl

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