24 degrees! Now what!?!

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by sassy_mare, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. sassy_mare

    sassy_mare Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2004
    AGain - weather guy was off!

    I woke up to 24 degrees this morning and although I covered most stuff, I am wondering what the damage will be.

    This is what I had left:

    green tomatoes
    greeen peppers
    pole beans
    crooknecks and zukes
    swiss chard

    Not covered:
    onions (a large portion of bulb is above ground)
    spaghetti squash

    Is anything salvagable? Can I freeze or can the tomatoes, peppers or onions?

    What about the pumpkins and squash? Will they still store over winter and do I pick them now?

    Thanks all!
  2. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    For what it is worth, I've usually found it takes two frosts to finish off tomatoes. Your squash/pumpkins should have been covered, by the way.

    I forgot to look where you are. If this is the end of the season - ie Montana or up in the mountains - then you've got a couple of choices. Pull the plants and let them finish ripening in a garage - DON'T put them in the sunlight - they actually ripen better in dim conditions. The old "green-tomatoes-on-a- shelf-with-newspaper" trick.

    If this is a cold wave and you generally warm up again, you will do your plants/garden a HUGE FAVOR by NOT WATERING. Drier plants actually make it through freezing better. When a plant is full of water, the water in the leaves/stems freezes and can burst the leaves/stems, whereas a drier leaf would have survived.
    Also, DON'T TOUCH any frozen plant - let the sun warm it up and check your damage mid-afternoon. You'd be surprised what a plant can recover from.

    So if this is temporary and most of your plants made it through, just make it your evening routine to cover the plants and don't pull off the covers until the sun has been up an hour or two and all the frost is warmed away.

    And if your tomatoes were just too cold, lucky you. Pick them all and make green tomato mincemeat! Food of the gods! :hobbyhors

    Happy gardening!

  3. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
    I'm wondering about the tomatoes too.

    I put up a gazillion quarts of green tomato mincemeat last year. Becky - care to share a recipe?

  4. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2005
    Central WV
    yes! A recipe!
    And also tips on how you eat it, because I've not ever heard of it. I have tons of green tomatoes and there's no way they're gonna ripen.
  5. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Ah Mincemeat. It is one of the rituals that says "autumn is here. Celebrate the harvest, thou good and faithful farmer!"

    Mincemeat is a tradition in our family that goes back well into the 1800s. My mincemeat recipe is quite UN-traditional. Aside from using green tomatoes, I also like my mincemeat to have a very orange-liqueur flavor. My great-grandmother would I'm sure consider disowning me for what I create nearly every autumn, even though it was her recipe that I used as a basis for creating my own version.

    So with that disclaimer, I will give you, two recipes. Not the original recipe from the 1800s (finding suet isn't easy these days and since most don't butcher, making your own is not an everyday habit.) I will share the updated version from the 1940s that my grandmother updated while my great grandmother was still alive (born just after the Civil War ended). My family hailed from West Virginia - all were farmers. Some migrated to Ohio during the 1930's/40's to work in the rubber plants in the Akron area (a rather famous WV migration pattern.) Others didn't leave until the 1970s, ending a nearly 200 family history in West Virginia. I treasure their legacy of hard work and all they inspire me to do.

    Mincemeat (made with beef)

    1/4 lb lean ground beef
    3 apples, chopped fine (on the farm were Northern Spy, McIntosh, Cortland, Rome and Yellow Transparent - that I remember off the top of my head)
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup dark raisins
    1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
    1 Tblsp cider vinegar
    1-1/2 tsp orange peel
    1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp cloves
    1/4 cup brandy or rum

    About three hours before serving, heat to boiling all except brandy. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes until thick. Stir in brandy.
    [This next part I have never been sure whether refers to the pie she would make out of it or if she finished it off in the oven. I've always assumed the former, rather than the latter.]
    Bake 425 degrees for 20 minutes. If any left, refrigerate. (Again, I'm assuming it makes enough for a pie, depending on the plate size determines leftovers.)

    What can you do with mincemeat besides a pie? Mincemeat muffins and mincemeat cookies are our favorites. IF you use my green tomato mincemeat recipe, you will find you don't need all the spices a typical recipe calls for. I've seen more traditional (less orange-y) recipes for green tomato mincemeat, so doctor as you will. That's why I gave you one of the original recipes so you can create your own masterpiece!

    Becky's Green Tomato Mincemeat

    12 cups chopped, peeled green tomatoes
    8 cups peeled and chopped cooking apples (like a McIntosh)
    6 cups sugar
    1/8 cup plus of dark molasses
    1/2 cup vinegar
    1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
    1/2 tsp orange extract
    2 Tblsp brandy or 1-2 tsp brandy extract
    2 lbs dark raisins
    6 tsp ground cinnamon
    4 tsp ground cloves
    3 tsp ground allspice
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 cup unsalted butter

    In large kettle, combine all ingredients except the liquors. Heat to boil then simmer over low heat for a couple of hours or so until thickened. Stir in liquors and bring just to boil then ladle into sterile jars while boiling hot. Seal. Water bath process.

    I just realized, my recipe lacks some of the details in the instructions like my grandmother's. So have fun with it. I make lots of batches - I think you need to have 3-4 quart jars ready for each. (I'll pay attention this year!)

    Here's my mincemeat muffin recipe. I created this recipe one year when, in a post-Christmas gaveaway sale at Walmart, I bought jars of commercial mincemeat for 25 cents each (and yes, it was in the 21st century! :rolleyes: ) I developed this recipe to use my bargain - a sorry-tasting bland mincemeat that needed "doctoring" and thus, the extra spices/extract in the recipe. IF you are using REAL mincemeat (and not that sorry store-bought stuff), you'll want to cut back both sugar and spices a bit.

    Becky's Mincemeat Muffins

    1/3 cups sugar
    1/4 cup butter, softened
    2 eggs
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp brandy extract
    1 tsp grated orange peel (or 1/2 tsp orange extract)
    1/2 cup orange juice or apple juice, whichever you prefer (using the apple juice tends to bring out the brandy flavor more, the OJ brings out the orange)
    3/4 cup mincemeat
    1-1/2 cup flour
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts (much as I ADORE pecan, resist. Mincemeat goes with walnuts in a traditional setting according to my "neck of the woods or holler")

    Cream butter, sugar and eggs then add remaining ingredients EXCEPT start with 1-1/4 cup flour because I am in Colorado and we use a little extra flour at altitude so start with 1-1/4 and add until it is muffin batter consistency.
    Stir in the mincemeat and nuts. Bake in greased muffin tins, 15-20 minutes at 375F.
    Makes 9-12 muffins (More if you make mini-muffins - reduce the baking time)

    Now, I could sit here for hours typing recipes that use mincemeat - I've got tons of them. But since it's nearly time to start dinner, how about we finish with my children's favorite:

    Mincemeat Refrigerator Cookies from an old Farm Journal Cookbook
    Makes 9 dozen cookies!!!!

    3/4 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract or other flavor
    1 tsp finely grated lemon peel
    3/4 cup prepared mincemeat
    3 cups sifted flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon peel. Stir in mincemeat.
    Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in nuts.
    Divide dough in half. Place each part on lightly floured sheet of waxed paper and form in a roll 1-1/2 inches in diameter, about 12 inches long. (Sprinkling the waxed paper with a little flour helps you to shape smooth rolls.) Wrap rolls in waxed paper and refrigerate several hours, overnight or 2-3 days.
    With sharp knife, cut dough in 1/8 inch slices; place 1-1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in moderate oven (375F) about 10 minutes. Remove cookies to cooling racks at once.

    Happy autumn!
  6. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Since frost is starting to be a fact in many areas, I'm posting to get this back on the front page again. It's a great way to use some of those green tomatoes. You can still use a green tomato after one freeze. I've found it's the second freeze that ruins the tomato.

    Happy autumn.