Heirloom Tomatoes

We’re growing tons of different heirloom tomatoes at the farm: Cosmonaut Volkov, Cherokee Purple, Doll Parton, Sweeties, Amish Paste, Ananas Noire, Schimmeig Striped Hollow, Royal Hillbilly, Orange Oxheart, Pineapple, Principe Borghese… And they all seem to be coming in right now–we’re harvesting almost every day.

Good thing Kirsten found a delicious way to use ’em up: Heirloom Tomato Pie.

The recipe calls for Manchego cheese, made from sheep milk, which you can get from Locust Grove Farm at Friday’s Laurel Creek market or Saturday’s Market Square market.


Harvesting Coriander

Still too green...

Did your cilantro bolt a few weeks ago?  Don’t tear it out!  Wait just a few more weeks and you’ll have coriander!

Let the flowers go to seed and let the seed pods and stems turn light brown, like in the image below.  One website says it takes 2-3 weeks after the cilantro has bolted for the browning to occur, but ours bolted 4 weeks ago and the pods are nowhere near brown, so we’re waiting a few more weeks…

Once the pods are brown, gently cut the whole plant off at the base and place it upside down in a large brown paper bag.  Fold the bag over a few times to close and hang it in a dry place for a

Alright, time to harvest

few weeks.  Pods will split open on their own, but it may help to shake the bag or rub them between your palms.

Once the seeds have dried fully, save them to plant next season’s cilantro or start cooking!

You can also eat cilantro root, which “Veggie Harvest” says tastes like cilantro leaves but has a “nuttier” flavor.  You want to harvest the roots while the plant is young, not when it’s already bolted, so this maybe an experiment for next year (Recipes)…


We’re growing four varieties of basil at the UT market garden this summer: thai, opal, lemon, and sweet genovese.

Genovese is your typical basil that you’d find at a store.  Thai, opal, and lemon would be delicious in any of the dishes you’d usually make with Genovese– pesto, caprese salad, tomato-mozzarella paninis– but there may be some better ways to bring out their different flavors.  The following recipes are rated four-star and highly recommended by reviewers.

Pork Egg Roll with Broccoli Slaw

Food Network is the recipe jackpot for thai basil–Pork Egg Roll with Broccoli Slaw, Asian Chicken Salad, Grilled Spicy Fillet Mignon Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing, Grilled Pork Burgers Indochine, or Asian Pesto with Grilled Shrimp.

Chess Pie with Opal Basil Syrup

Opal basil has a spicy cinnamon-y, vanilla-y flavor so every recipe I found pairs it with sweet stuff: Honeydew with Mint, Basil, and Lime or Opal Basil Syrup with Chess Pie from the Blackberry Farm Cookbook (I just made this syrup today- it’s delicious on its own but I can’t wait to mix it with plain yoghurt or with lemonade).

Lemon Snow Pudding

Lemon basil would be delicious with recipes calling for citrus: Lemon and Fresh Herb Tabbouleh or Lemon Snow Pudding with Basil Custard Sauce.

Or, combine all the types of basil we’re growing in Three Basil Pesto!

Keeping Herbs Fresh

I’m really excited about the herbs we’re growing at the farm this summer, but it seems like every time I get cilantro, parsley, or basil, half of it ends up going to waste.  Right about when I find it rotting down at the bottom of the vegetable drawer is when I need it fresh for a recipe.  In pursuit of a solution to this problem, I looked into some methods for preserving fresh (not dried) cilantro, parsley, and basil for weeks or even a few months.

To keep these herbs fresh for a few weeks, snip off the stem ends and place in water like a bouquet of flowers.  Cover the leaves loosely with a plastic or paper bag.  Place cilantro in the fridge, basil at room temperature, and parsley in either environment.  Change the water if it becomes cloudy or colored.

Storing cilantro in water

To freeze cilantro and basil, the Subsistence Pattern Food Garden recommends mixing the leaves with a little olive oil (enough to coat), packing them into plastic bags, and freezing.

Freezing cilantro mixed with olive oil

You could also blend the olive oil-herb mixture in a food processor, scoop tablespoon-fuls onto wax paper-lined cookie sheets, and place in the freezer—after they are frozen, pop into a plastic bag or canning jar and freeze.

Other websites recommended freezing the herbs with water in ice cube trays: strip leaves from the stems and pack tightly into the wells of an ice cube tray.  Fill each well with water to cover the leaves and then freeze.  When frozen, store the cubes in a plastic bag or jar.

Flower or Food?

Nasturtium canapes

You might have heard of dandelion gourmet salad mix or stuffed squash blossoms, but what about calendula paella, orange-marigold iced tea, or nasturtium pesto?  Here are some commonly eaten flowers:

  • Calendula- Can be used as a saffron substitute (it’s even called “Poor Man’s Saffron”).  Petals are a little bitter, so are often used for coloring rather than flavor.
  • Dandelion- Young blossoms (bitter sepals removed) have a sweet or honey-like flavor that turns bitter as the flower matures.  Young leaves are tasty in salads or cooked as greens.
  • Daylily- Mature buds taste like green beans or eggplant.  The open flower is milder.  The darker the flower color, the more bitter.  Buds can be stored in the freezer and then blanched later to open them up.  Try stuffing with goat cheese spread or chicken salad.
  • Signet Marigolds (Tangerine gem, lemon gem, and starfire are signet marigold varieties, other marigolds can be “repugnant” according to edible flower expert Cathy Wilkinson Barash) White parts at bases of petals are really bitter and should be cut off, but the rest of the petal tastes like spicy tarragon.
  • Nasturtium- Flowers have a spicy, peppery taste.  Leaves are also edible and reminiscent of watercress.  Pickled flower buds, a.k.a. “Poor Man’s Capers,” are used in place of capers.  Try adding petals and leaves to a caprese salad.
  • Pansy- Petals have a sweet green or grassy flavor.  The whole flower can taste like wintergreen.
  • Redbud- Buds and open flowers add a nice crunch to salads.  They taste like a mix of tart apples and green beans.
Elderberry flower fritters

You can also eat bachelor’s buttons, chrysanthemum, dianthus, elderberry, hollyhock, impatiens, lilac, roses and lots more.  Check for recipes and tips on picking/cooking flowers safely from Edible Flowers from Garden to Palate and Edible Flowers: Desserts and Drinks by Cathy Wilkinson Barash and Edible Flowers by Claire Clifton.  These books are available at the Knox County and UT AgVet libraries.

Marigold butter