Harvest Monday, September 22, 2014 – Smooth-skin Luffa + Lutz Beet + San Marzano Tomato + Asian Pear

Did not pull up the luffa plant as mentioned in my 9/15/14 post.

Smooth skin luffa (06756)

Baby Smooth-skin Luffa

Was getting ready to clip the luffa vines when I noticed 2 baby luffas that looked like they will grow to edible size so decided to leave the plant alone.

Then I saw a ready-to-eat luffa (photo below).

smooth-skin luffa (06761)

Smooth-skin Luffa

smooth-skin luffa (06785)

Smooth-skin Luffa

There were actually 2 ready-to-eat luffas. Was not taking any chances of them becoming past their prime, cut them from the vine immediately.

smooth-skin luffa (06792)Smooth-skin Luffa Cross Section (left photo)

Perfect texture, unlike the one mentioned in the 9/15 post (photo below).

 smooth-skin luffa cross section (06744)


Not knowing whether these would be bitter or not, decided to do a taste test. Dropped a slice of each in some broth and yes, they were bitter.

This really puzzled me so went on line for answers.

Luffa which belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family will produce bitter fruit (cucumber too) due to dry conditions or temperature fluctuation which we had (August temperature was below normal, the first week of September was way above normal and the 2nd week was below normal).

Hopefully we will not have a repeat of temperature fluctuation and although it’s been very dry I watered the plant well so will see if the 2 baby luffas in the first photo taste good when they reach edible stage.

◊ ◊ ◊

lutz beet (06780)

Lutz Beet
Weighed 1½+ pounds, lutz beet doing exceptional well this year
It went home with a friend

A friend stopped by while I was harvesting, knowing she does not have a garden and I have more lutz beets in the garden gave this one to her (she sure was at the right place at the right time).

My friend called the next day to tell me she went home and made beet soup and how sweet and tender the beet was (she did not offer me a bowl of the soup). She sautéed the leaves and used as a side, they were tender.

Lutz is my favorite beet. A long season variety, plant in early spring to grow through fall, harvest anytime at any size during that period. As you can see from the above photo, it can grow to gigantic size yet does not become woody/tough and still remains sweet. Did I mention low maintenance as well? A winner indeed!

◊ ◊ ◊

san marzano tomato (06802)

San Marzano Tomato

Too many San Marzano tomato. Made a few batches of sauces, all labeled and frozen for later use. Lacking freezer space, decided to oven dry the above tomatoes. They will take up less freezer space. Will use them, in the future as needed, to enrich and add texture to the tomato sauce. Other uses include adding to salads, pasta dishes and as pizza topping,

san marzano tomato (06809)Tomatoes ready for the oven, had 2 trays.

oven dried tomato (06810)Tomatoes after baking at 250°F for 4½ hours. They have shrunk a lot are dry to the touch but still pulpy. For drier texture bake for another hour or 2.

Once cooled, packaged in freezer bags, dated, labeled and placed in the freezer.

◊ ◊ ◊

Had inter-planted my fall Swiss chard seedlings among the spring planted ones. The fall seedlings are doing well and need more space while the spring planted ones are getting leggy.

Swiss chard & carrots (06762)

Pulled all the spring planted chards so now the fall chard seedlings can grow and spread.
The row of plants in front of the chard are the transplanted carrot of which I will post an update later.

◊ ◊ ◊

Asian pear06759)

Asian Pears

Asian pear06758)

Asian Pears

Due to the harsh winter and the amount of snow we had, could not get into the garden at the end of February/early March to spray the pear tree with horticulture oil so many of the pears have blemishes (pear at left and right) or are wormy.

◊ ◊ ◊

Other harvests for the week include: Chinese chives, leeks, sweet potato leaves, carrots, cherry tomatoes, few strawberries each day and  last of the figs.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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52 Responses to Harvest Monday, September 22, 2014 – Smooth-skin Luffa + Lutz Beet + San Marzano Tomato + Asian Pear

  1. It’s amazing how the weather can change produce. Must be terrible for farmers.
    I would love to try an Asian pear – they look fabulous.
    Have a wonderful week ahead Norma.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  2. Re bitterness: I’m suspecting drought. Our last significant rainfall was 1.4″ Aug. 13 and we’ve had very little since then – only a half-inch in Sept. Celeriac is very strong flavored when not well watered and I’m probably not watering enough.

  3. daphnegould says:

    Those Asian pears look delicious. I’m really missing fruit from the garden right now. But the farmers market apples are making up for it.

  4. Thanks for the idea about drying the tomatoes. We have the small ones in abundance but the large ones got blight. For some reason, the carrots grew very well, large and fat!!! Your pears look lovely. Fruit is not the easiest thing to grow…my brother cut down his Honey Crisp Apple trees because he got tired of the squirrels getting all his crop!!! Mine never flowered this year. It’s not easy being a farmer, is it???

  5. dvelten says:

    Nice crop of Asian pears. I have a couple of trees but only get a few golf ball sized fruit because the pine roots have invaded the soil. But it was a fruit worth trying to grow, seeing how they cost a dollar or more at the market.

  6. Maureen says:

    You’ve been busy. That beet is enormous. I love that you can eat them that size and they aren’t like cooking cardboard.

  7. Margaret says:

    That is one HUGE beet! And I am loving the idea of interplanting a 2nd sowing of Swiss chard among the spring sown plants.

  8. Eva Taylor says:

    Your tomatoes are GORGEOUS! I recently discovered san marzano tomatoes and am hooked! I also regularly oven dry my tomatoes mostly because the store bought variety are so incredibly tasteless. I just did a batch at the cottage and served it similar to a caprese salad and our guests loved it.
    Too bad about the Asian pears, what do you spray them with to prevent the worms?

  9. What a huge harvest this week. And I always learn something here…had never heard of luffa and back tracked to your previous posts to read about it. I wouldn’t expect it to ever be bitter since it shares heritage with okra, squash and cucumbers. Your tomatoes make me quite envious. I live for a day when I will have “too many” tomatoes as I cannot seem to grow them in my current yard.

  10. wok with ray says:

    I am glad to see that you are just growing your own Asian pears because it could get expensive buying it in the market. Love your garden. Have a good week, Norma.

  11. I wouldn’t mind the blemishes on the Asian pears. I bet they’re sweet!

  12. I miss those pears. Used to buy the pickled pears from a local pickle store…not even sure it still exists at all.

  13. Kristy says:

    Well, guess what I’m doing with the last of my tomatoes now! Thank you for the idea to dry them and use them later to thicken sauces. I’ve made so many batches of sauce (my mom’s tomatoes went crazy this year) already, so this will be the perfect switch up. 🙂

  14. cookielady12 says:

    YUM! Love the garden post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  15. Stoney Acres says:

    Looking very good! We should try drying some tomatoes. We usually just end up canning all of ours.

  16. Luffa! How fascinating! You always grow the most interesting vegetables. Sorry about the worms in the Asian pears. Can you work around them?

  17. cheri says:

    Hi Norma, apparently luffas grow well in Phoenix, returning there in 2 days, met a woman at the farmers market there and she brags about her bounty. Sorry about your pears.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Chefi,
      The warm weather in Phoenix would be well suited for growing luffas. Hopefully the coming winter would not be as severe and I am able to spray my pear tree in a timely manner.

  18. hotlyspiced says:

    It’s great you have found the reason for the bitter loofahs. I hope that next season’s weather is more kind on your loofahs. The tomatoes look amazing and how fabulous to have so many and what a great idea to dry them out then freeze for the coming winter. Your friend did very well to receive that beet and I’m glad she made a lovely soup with it and didn’t waste the leaves – that’s true appreciation! xx

  19. Balvinder says:

    What a beautiful harvest! I usually have tomatoes in abundance, thanks for posting about drying them. I love sun to use sun dried tomatoes in salads and pasta. Now I can oven dry them.

  20. Sorry to hear about your pears, Norma. I love san marzano tomatoes but have never had a luffa.

  21. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Great post Norma. Sorry to hear about your pears – they look so good though! We love Asian pears (I buy ‘nashis’), for their juiciness. Your roasted tomatoes look beautiful. Nearly always learn a new word on your blog Norma – this week: smooth-skinned Luffa! What a great name and intriguing-sounding veggie!

  22. Mmm Asian pears, they look so delicious – though sorry to hear about the blemishes!
    And lovely tomatoes, it is all coming together nicely!

    Choc Chip Uru

  23. Juliana says:

    I always look forward to see what you are harvesting…awesome as usual! I love the idea of slow roast tomatoes…can only imagine how it taste.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week Norma 😀

  24. wow, what a great harvest
    luffa is one of my fave veggies, my mom used to made egg drop soup with it…

  25. Sophie33 says:

    Waw, what a fabulous produce, Norma! Those Asian pears rock! Those Marzano tomatoes, all dried up look incredibly delicious too! I also am big fan of Swiss chard! Yum!

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