Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Dirty Hands and Pineapple Sorbet

Dirty hands, iced tea,
garden fragrances thick in the air
and a blanket of color before me,
who could ask for more?
Bev Adams, Mountain Gardening

Not me.  I love getting dirt under my nails, sipping a tall cold glass of iced tea, walking past lemon balm, mint, or lavender and getting a whiff of their abundant fragrance.  I love summer!

I have never found a pair of gloves that work right in the garden.  I need to feel the soil between my fingers.  I can't seed, thin plants, or pick weeds with gloves - they just don't work. 

So, if you see me in the summer, please understand that my hands and nails always look dirty.  No matter how much soap I use or how much I scrub, I always have dirt under my nails and dirty rough patches on my hands.  As my niece tells everyone, my aunt's hobby is getting dirt under her nails.


The Strawberry Ice was such a hit that, when I found myself with a couple of ripe pineapples, I found this cool and refreshing sorbet.

Pineapple Sorbet

1 small pineapple, peeled and cored
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Cut pineapple into 2-inch pieces. Place pineapple and lemon juice in a food processor; process until smooth. Add sugar; process 1 minute or until sugar dissolves.  Pour mixture into 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Freeze for about 25 minutes or until icy around edges. Using fork, pull icy portions into middle of pan. Repeat this step every 20 minutes until all the liquid is frozen into flaky, loose crystals. Cover and freeze. When ready to serve, use fork again to scrape crystals into bowls and garnish with fresh mint sprigs, if desired.  Serves about 9.


I overwintered onions last year - leaving them in the ground over the long winter.  To my surprise, they grew larger than any onions I've grown before.  I decided to harvest them last week so I can plant a second crop.   My onions have always been small, and I used them as soon as I picked them.  I never had extra to store for later use.  So, I needed to read up on storing onions.

While researching storing onions, I learned an interesting fact.  I learned that it's abnormal for an onion to flower.  According to Aggie Horticulture at Texas AgriLife Extension Service:

If an onion plant is exposed to alternating cold and warm temperatures resulting in the onion plant going dormant, resuming growth, going dormant and then resuming growth again, the onion bulbs prematurely flower or bolt. The onion is deceived into believing it has completed two growth cycles or years of growth in its biennial life cycle so it finalizes the cycle by blooming. Flowering can be controlled by planting the right variety at the right time.

My onions always bloomed.  What to do?  I know that I buy onion plants that are normally grown in my area, and I do tend to plant them early.  Everyone recommends cuting off the flower or the onion size will be smaller.  So, instead of worrying about planting time and onion varieties, I'll just cut off the flowers.
To store onions, you need to cure them.  According to Ohio State University's Fact Sheet,

Harvest onions when the tops have fallen over and dried. On sunny, breezy days, onions may be pulled and left in the garden for a day or two to dry before they are taken to a curing area. Curing must take place for the onions to be stored for any length of time. Cure onions by placing them in a warm, well-ventilated area until the necks are thoroughly dry. With warm temperatures, good air circulation and low humidity, curing should be completed within two weeks after harvest. Onions are best stored in a cool moderately dry area in ventilated containers.

Aggie Horticulture makes a great suggestion on how to store the onions:

The key to preserving onions and to prevent bruising is to keep them cool, dry and separated. In the refrigerator, wrapped separately in foil, onions can be preserved for as long as a year. The best way to store onions is in a mesh bag or nylon stocking. Place an onion in the bag and tie a knot or put a plastic tie between the onions and continue until the stocking is full. Loop the stocking over a rafter or nail in a cool dry building and when an onion is desired, simply clip off the bottom onion with a pair of scissors or remove the plastic tie. Another suggestion is to spread the onions out on a screen which will allow adequate ventilation, but remember to keep them from touching each other. As a general rule, the sweeter the onion, the higher the water content, and therefore the less shelf life. A more pungent onion will store longer so eat the sweet varieties first and save the more pungent onions for storage.

I am going to try to spread the onions over a screen to dry, then storing them in a mesh bag.  I'll let you know if I have any problems with this method, but I do think that they will be gone before the end of summer.

I live in Planting Zone 4.  If anyone has any other ideas on storing onions, I would greatly appreciate them.

Aunt Janet

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