Next month is Family Meals Month, which urges all families to vow to spend one more day a week together enjoying a home cooked meal. “Family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, to fight obesity, substance abuse and to make families stronger—creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole,” explains The FMI Foundation.
This means that there is no better time than now to look into your very own garden to see what healthy and delicious meals you can cook in your kitchen! Experienced and novice gardeners around the world know the benefits that PlantCatalyst® can offer to growing a better harvest! Read this article to find out what vegetables to harvest in August so you can prepare a list of meals to celebrate Family Meals Month, as well as how to use PlantCatalyst® to improve your gardening experience!
Benefits of PlantCatalyst® in Growing Vegetables
Gardeners that want to enjoy the most successful harvests should use PlantCatalyst® in their gardening routine. Unlike many common fertilizers, this FDA-approved product contains no harmful toxins and is made with all natural ingredients. While fertilizers pollute our groundwater and promote the formation of greenhouse gases, a small amount of PlantCatalyst® can help gardeners use up to 50 percent less fertilizers, which not only decreases the levels of toxins in the vegetables, but also saves money on fertilizer.
PlantCatalyst® has many advantages, which have been proven in numerous studies in commercial greenhouses worldwide. They include:
Increased germination rates and strength out of germination
Decreased growing times
Increased yield and overall production
Vegetables to Harvest in August
Tomatoes of various varieties are pretty easy to grow in most parts of the country. In August, most tomatoes are ready to be picked and enjoyed; to know if the fruit is ready to be picked, it must be very rich in color and a little soft; you may observe yellow color around the stem of the tomato.
If your tomatoes still haven’t ripened in August, don’t move the plants in a sunny area, as that may cause the fruit to rot. If the tomatoes still haven’t ripened by the time the first frost comes around, hang the plant upside down in a basement, and take off the fruit when it ripens.
You can prepare for future planting seasons by harvesting seeds from certain tomato varieties.
Sweet and hot peppers are usually ready to be harvested during the hot August months. Although peppers can be consumed at any stage, waiting until they are fully ripe will increase the intensity of the flavor. Hot peppers start off as green, but their shades change as they mature and become hotter, resulting in colors or orange, yellow, purple, red and chocolate brown. Once peppers start to change colors, they should be harvested so they don’t rot.
You may need to use a knife or clippers to harvest brittle and hard to pick peppers, but remember to leave some stem on the plants so they’re not as easy to damage. Wear gloves and be very cautious when picking hot peppers as the oil can burn your hands and other body parts.
Most varieties of corn are ready to be harvested this month, including roasting ears and sweet corn. To make sure corn is ready to be eaten, feel the end of the ear to see if it’s filled out, white or yellow, blunt or rounded; if it’s pointed, it’s not yet ready. Another tell tale sign of readiness is the presence of dry silks.
Sweet corn should be harvested on the day it will be consumed (if possible), because sugars start to convert to starch once the ear of corn is picked, losing flavor quickly. If you need to pick corn, but not ready to cook it, store it in the fridge.
To prepare for Family Meals Month, write down these healthy recipes to utilize the crops you just harvested for delicious meals the whole family can enjoy.
Since tomatoes don’t have a long shelf life, and refrigerating them causes them to lose their flavor, make a batch of tomato sauce you can use on pizza or with pasta for months to come!
15 pounds ripe tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt (optional)
Boil a pot of water and prep the ice bath: Bring a large Dutch oven or stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a mixing bowl with ice and water and set this next to the stove.
Prepare the tomatoes for blanching: Core out the stems from the tomatoes and slice a shallow “X” in the bottom of each fruit.
Blanch the tomatoes to peel them: Working in batches, drop several tomatoes into the boiling water. Cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 45 to 60 seconds, then lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes, transferring the cooled tomatoes from the ice water to another mixing bowl as they cool.
Strip the peels from the tomatoes: When finished blanching, use your hands or a paring knife to strip the skins from the tomatoes. Discard the water used to boil the tomatoes.
Roughly chop the tomatoes: Working in batches, pulse the tomatoes in the food processor. Pulse a few times for chunkier sauce, or process until smooth for a pureed sauce. Transfer each batch into the Dutch oven or stockpot. Alternatively, chop the tomatoes by hand. Process through a food mill for a smoother sauce. For a very chunky sauce, skip this step entirely and let the tomatoes break down into large pieces as they cook.
Simmer the tomatoes: Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering for 30 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the taste and consistency you like.
Stir in the lemon juice and salt: When finished cooking, stir in the lemon juice or vinegar and salt. A quarter-cup is necessary to ensure a safe level of acidity for canning. Add more lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
Preserving option 1 — freeze your sauce: Let the sauce cool, then transfer it into freezer containers or freezer bags. Sauce can be kept frozen for at least 3 months before starting to develop freezer burn or off-flavors.
Preserving option 2 — can your sauce: Transfer the hot sauce into sterilized canning jars. Top with new, sterilized lids, and screw on the rings until finger tight. Process in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Let cool completely on the counter — if any lids do not seal completely (the lids will invert and form a vacuum seal), refrigerate that sauce and use it within a week or freeze it for up to 3 months. Canned tomato sauce can be stored in the pantry for at least a year.
Use sweet peppers, coupled with cheese and ground beef, to create a hearty meal using this recipe for Ground Beef Stuffed Green Bell Peppers With Cheese.
6 large green peppers
1 lb beef, Ground
1/2 cup onion, Chopped
1 (16 ounce) cans tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, Shredded ( about 4 ounces)
Cut tops from green peppers; discard seeds and membranes.
Chop enough of the tops to make 1/4 cup, set aside.
Cook the whole green peppers, uncovered in boiling water for about 5 minutes; invert to drain well.
Sprinkle insides of peppers lightly with salt. In a skillet cook ground beef, onion and 1/4 cup chopped pepper till meat is browned and vegetables are tender.
Drain off excess fat. Add undrained tomatoes, uncooked rice, water, salt, Worcestershire, and a dash of pepper.
Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or till rice is tender.
Stir in cheese. Stuff peppers with meat mixture. Place in a 10x6x2 baking dish.
Bake, covered in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Everyone loves to eat corn on the cob, from toddlers to adults! Try this fun recipe for a delicious Parmesan Roasted Corn on the Cob.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
5 ears corn, husk and silk removed
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate.
Brush a thin layer of mayonnaise on each ear of corn. Sprinkle the corn with the Parmesan cheese, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Wrap each ear with aluminum foil and place on the grill.
Grill, turning occasionally, until the kernels begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
What are your favorite meals from vegetables out of your garden? Share them with us!