Apple Upside Down Gingerbread

Heirloom Apples

Heirloom Apples

There’s a chill in the air, and it’s time to fill your kitchen with the warm smells of sweet and savory dishes.

This Apple Upside Down Gingerbread recipe appeared in the 1999 Seed Savers Exchange calendar, and was created by world-class chef Richard Palm. The ingredients and method follows. Enjoy!

4 Tbsp. melted butter ¾ cup brown sugar 3 tart baking apples, peeled, halved, cored and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray the bottom and sides of an 11 x 7 x 2” metal pan. Pour the melted butter into the pan and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over it. Arrange the thinly sliced apples over the butter and brown sugar.

Mix the following batter and pour it over the apples:

2¼ cups sifted, unbleached all-purpose flower ½ tsp. baking soda ½ tsp. salt 2 tsp. ground ginger 1 tsp. ground cinnamon ½ tsp. ground cloves ½ tsp. ground nutmeg ½ tsp. ground allspice 1 tsp. Dutch processed cocoa ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter/melted and cooled to room temperature ¾ cup molasses ¾ cup granulated sugar ½ cup buttermilk ½ cup milk 1 large egg

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, spices and cocoa in a bowl. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk, and egg. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth and thick (about a minute), scraping down often.  Pour the mixture over the top of the apple slices in the prepared pan. Bake on the middle oven rack for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

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Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

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2013 Squash Festival: Squashtastic

Heirloom Squash Display

Heirloom Squash DisplayThe fifth annual Seed Savers Exchange Harvest Festival incorporated a celebration of squash with all the fun activities everyone has come to expect at the autumn event. The versatile and dynamic Cucurbita genus offers so much more than just pumpkins and zucchini, and the SSE crew was eager to show it off. Along with a beautiful heirloom squash display, attendees enjoyed a variety of gourmet squash soups, workshops on saving squash seed, a lecture on the origins and evolution of squash, and a talk on the culinary uses of different squash varieties. Pressing apples for ciderFestival-goers also helped press apple cider, sampled a variety of apples from the Historic Orchard, learned to plant and grow garlic, enjoyed a guided edible and medicinal plant identification walk, and learned to make broomcorn brooms. Turnout for the event was great despite the wet and cool weather, which was decided by all to be ideal conditions for the soup cook-off.

The Harvest Soup Cook-off is quickly becoming a highlight for this annual event, where chefs from some of the most respected local restaurants enter a soup for attendees to vote on. In the days prior to the festival each chef was given a box of Potimarron squash, and each one showed up Saturday with a delicious and unique soup for the contest. After the ballots were cast and the votes were tallied, Chef Tom Skold of Albert’s Restaurant was declared winner of this year’s cook-off.

Winner of the soup cook-offEntering his Harvest Bean and Squash Soup, the chef admitted he had not handled the rare Potimarron winter squash before. He said of it, "With such a brilliant, colorful squash, I was really excited to use it," adding, "this is a transitional time where you can still get your fresh produce out of the garden as well as your fall crops. Everyone is interested in eating this time of year, so it’s really a good time to be a chef." Below you'll find Chef Tom Skold’s winning soup recipe.

Download all of the mouth-watering squash soup recipes here.

Potimarron Squash

Harvest Bean and Squash Soup

Ingredients

¾ cup Anasazi beans, soak overnight water to cover salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste 4 cups Potimarron (or butternut) squash, peeled, large dice 6 medium tomatoes, cored, halved 6 tablespoons olive oil 1 ancho chili pepper 8 cloves garlic, sliced 1 white onion, large dice 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped ¾ cup hard cheese (such as parmesan), grated

Method

1. Drain the soaking water from the beans, cover in fresh water, bring to a boil with a pinch of salt, and simmer until thoroughly cooked.

2. Preheat oven to 425F. Place the squash and tomato halves on separate baking sheets and drizzle them each with 2 T. olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash and tomatoes 45 minutes at 425F and reserve, cutting the tomatoes in large pieces when cool.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Toast the ancho chili on all sides and remove; when cooled seed and chop. Add the garlic to the same oil, toast golden brown and remove. Add the onions to the same oil and cook until caramelized.

4. Add chicken stock, rosemary, cooked beans, reserved squash, tomatoes, chilis, and garlic to the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Puree part of the soup to thicken, season to taste and serve topped with the grated cheese.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

Apple Pie: One more reason to preserve heritage apples

Apple Pie: One more reason to preserve heritage apples

When you have an orchard like Seed Savers with 550 apple varieties, no two pies are the same (or at least they shouldn’t be—what’s the fun in that?). Orchard Manager Dan Bussey reveals his favorite pie recipe with tips and tricks for working with heirloom apple varieties.

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Fresh from the Garden

Fresh from the garden

Fresh from the garden When I grab a basket and go to my garden to gather fresh vegetables and herbs, it's like going to my own little market.  I look at gardening as a good workout and a chance to listen to the sounds of nature.

My favorite summertime recipes are those that require one trip to the garden to gather most of the ingredients, such as the following.

This recipe, as seen in the 2009 Seed Savers Exchange calendar, was a prize winner in the 2002 Food for Thought Recipe Contest in Madison, Wisconsin and printed in From Asparagus to Zucchini, a cookbook sponsored by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition.

I used the 'Amish Paste' tomato in this recipe. The healthy vines are producing blemish-free, flavorful red fruit that is excellent for fresh eating as well as preserving. Our growing season started out very wet and cool, and despite the dry weather since then, these plants continue to produce beautiful, tasty fruit.

The green beans I used were 'Ideal Market' and 'Purple Podded Pole' which are both very productive varieties. The Ideal Market produces colorful blossoms, and of course the Purple Podded Pole plant is decorative in all stages.

Prizewinner Green Beans with Tomatoes and Herbs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes ½ cup sliced onions 2 teaspoons dried ground thyme ¼ cup water 1 pound green beans, ends clipped, cut in half 1 sprig rosemary, leaves torn off the stem 2 medium tomatoes cut into wedges Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant. Add onions, sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add water, thyme, and green beans. Stir. Cover, and steam-cook beans until nearly done, 10-15 minutes. Stir in rosemary and tomatoes. Cook briefly, until tomatoes are warmed through. Season as necessary. Serves 4.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

And the winner is...

And the winner is...

Despite concerns that our tomatoes would not ripen in time for the event, over 40 heirloom and open-pollinated tomato varieties (and one mega-mart hybrid tomato) competed for the title of this year's favorite. SSE staff, friends, and family brought tomatoes from gardens across northeast Iowa and Wisconsin to serve over 800 event attendees.

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Zucchini Abundance

Zucchini on the porch

Black Beauty Zucchini

It's that time of year again when gardeners everywhere are seeking out creative ways to utilize the abundance of zucchini and summer squash coming out of their garden.

Of course, here at Seed Savers Exchange we can't help but to encourage you to try your hand at saving seeds for next year's garden (scroll down to find a how-to guide for saving zucchini seeds). If you're interested in maintaining the characteristics of your variety in the next generation, you'll need to make sure your plants weren't cross-pollinating with other varieties. Of course, it can be fun to have a little backyard hybridization, too. Select one or two zucchinis to leave on the vine and save their seeds, then have fun with the rest! Make zucchini breads, cakes or soups that can be frozen and enjoyed later; Donate to a local food pantry or drop some zucchini on a neighbor's porch.

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Courtesy of Joanne Thuente of Seed Savers Exchange, here is a casserole her family loves:

Mom’s Zucchini Casserole

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cups zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 3 cups canned or fresh tomatoes, including juice (or 3 cups tomato juice)
  • 1 cup uncooked regular rice
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (or cheese of your choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Brown and season ground beef; set aside. (Omit beef for vegetarian option). Sauté onion and sliced zucchini in the olive oil for 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes; simmer for another 10 minutes.

In a large buttered casserole dish (2½ quart), layer the ingredients in the following order: half of the vegetable mixture, half of the uncooked rice, all of the ground beef, the remaining rice, and end with the remaining vegetable mix. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top, and return to the oven, uncovered, for a few minutes, just until the cheese melts.

Serves 4-6.

Saving squash seeds

 

Find more seed saving tips on our website.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

Ground Cherries: Evoking Memories through Taste

Ground Cherry husks

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “My Grandma always had ground cherries in her garden… She made the best pies and jam,”  I’d be a rich woman. Ground cherries conjure up fond memories for me too, as we had them growing in my families’ garden for generations. We used them for jams, pies, sauces, or my favorite: husked fresh from the garden, still warm and sweet from the sunshine. Aunt Molly's Ground CherriesHowever, there are folks who have never heard of or tasted this delicious fruit. Ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa)—not to be confused with tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) or Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi)—are native to Central America. They produce a very sweet yellow-gold, cherry-sized fruit in a papery husk that drops from the plant just before they ripen. The heirloom ground cherry ‘Aunt Molly’s’ found its way to the Seed Savers Exchange collection and has been in my garden for years. These plants are part of my garden that seeds itself, and there are always enough fruit left on the ground to seed new plants.

Ground Cherry husksMy children loved ground cherries growing up and would inadvertently alert me when they were ripe. I’d find piles of light brown empty husks lying beside the plant or left in a trail leading out of the garden. My youngest daughter recently mentioned how she looked forward to them and that she was surprised how something so sweet was found on the ground—and in Iowa!

My Grandma Ott treasured her ground cherries for jams and pies. She would pick all she could before frost and store them in their husks under a bed upstairs.  They would keep for months in that cool place and could be used fresh for special occasion pies in the winter.

While working in my garden these days, I un-wrap a husk and pop a golden cherry into my mouth to be reminded of Grandma Ott’s kitchen, her pies, and my children’s trail of empty husks leading out of the garden. One of the pleasures of preserving heirloom varieties is they are not only laden with  beauty, diversity and flavor, but they hold the power to bring back emotionally-charged memories with their wonderful taste.

Grandma Ott’s Ground Cherry Pie

  • 1 ½ quarts of husked ripe ground cherries
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Juice of two lemons

Mash about 2 cup of the cherries and add rest whole.  Place in sauce pan with other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Pour into raw pie shell, dot with butter, a sprinkle of nutmeg and pinch of salt.  Add top crust and bake in a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake till golden (about 40 minutes).

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Find Aunt Molly's ground cherry seeds in our online store.

'Aunt Molly's' ground cherries are part of Slow Food USA's 'Ark of Taste'-- a catalog of delicious foods in danger of extinction. By growing, eating and promoting Ark foods we ensure they remain in production and on our plates.

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Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

Garlic Escapades

Garlic Scape in the Field

Whether blended in a soup, pickled in a mason jar or baked in an omelet, eating is the best way to utilize scapes, a farm and garden byproduct of garlic. Seed Savers Exchange is conducting its first ever evaluation of over 300 garlic varieties in its production garden this year, which means harvesting a lot of scapes for scanning, as well as to ensure the garlic bulbs are adequately plump and ready for replanting in October. Looking out across the half-acre field waving with crowns of silvery green, these several hundred varieties may appear identical to the untrained eye, but in fact differ considerably in size and shape. Many are uniform in their likeness (streaking brown leaves as some had matured early), still others display anthropomorphic qualities unique to their row: one variety like a sumo wrestler, squat and thick, while another resembles the stern form of a lawman. Taken together, the melded identities of Allium sativum are a chorus of opportunity for SSE to learn more about this species (and its flowering appendage) in the Allium genus.

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Our trial field includes both hard and softneck garlics. For those of us new to garlic varieties, softneck garlic doesn’t produce scapes, and generally isn’t as hardy (hence the cognate of its opposite, the “hardneck”), but, it does store better and mature quicker. The bulb size of many hardneck varieties is improved by removing the scape—its flowering stalk which eventually produces bulbils and flowers—hence getting “plump and ready for October." Some varieties, however, don't mind if you leave their scapes on until harvest time, such as those in the Turban group. It just goes to show – the more we learn about each variety’s characteristics, from planting to harvest, the more we’ll understand their preferences, personalities, and how best to make use of them.

Here’s a quick primer on Preservation’s Field & Lab Plant Evaluation

Any characteristic that has a genetic basis is recorded in evaluations at SSE, which, specific to garlic, includes observing and measuring:

1. leaf color 2. leaf posture 3. stalk height (or pseudostem) 4. scape shape (if applicable)

Everything is recorded into Preservation’s database—the hardneck scapes are harvested and scanned into a digital format—and staff can glory in the perk of free scapes for eating!

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Garlic taste tests to follow… meanwhile, check out some of these intriguing recipes, and keep us posted on your favorite uses for scapes!

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Garlic Visit the online store to purchase our certified organic seed garlic today. Over 10 varieties to choose from-- They will sell out!

Then...

Check out this slide show and cheat sheet for planting your garlic.

Recipe: Italian Vegetable Ragout

Heirloom Eggplant

Summer is here, and it’s time to gather those wonderful fresh vegetables from your garden or the market. The following recipe was taken from the 1995 Seed Savers Exchange Calendar, in which all the recipes were provided by Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC, America’s first certified organic restaurant.

Heirloom Eggplant

 

Nora stated the following about her Italian Vegetable Ragout:

“This eggplant ragout draws its inspiration from ratatouille. Include tomatoes when they are ripe and in season. It’s good eaten hot, lukewarm, or cold. If you happen to have any of this flavorful ragout left, celebrate brunch by stirring some into scrambled eggs—or stuff it into pita pockets, add some feta cheese, and enjoy a memorable sandwich. Serve with steamed Romanesco broccoli or baked beans.”

 

Italian Vegetable Ragout

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1½ pounds eggplant with peel, cubed
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ pound small zucchini, sliced into ½ inch rounds
  • 3 medium red, yellow, or green peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • ½ cup chopped, mixed fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, and parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a large sauté pan for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and eggplant, stirring to combine and coat with the oil. Season with salt to release the juices of the eggplant. Sauté until the eggplant becomes soft, about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the zucchini, stir and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peppers, the mixed herbs, season to taste with pepper, and sauté for another minute or two. Remove the ragout from the heat while the peppers are still firm. Set aside and cool to room temperature. The heat of the pan will finish cooking the vegetables. Serves 4.

View all the heirloom eggplant in our catalog here.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or suggestions for this recipe!

Seed Savers Exchange

The Seed Savers Exchange mission is to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

Lucina's Miniature Stuffed Peppers

Pickled Mini Bell Peppers

Miniature Bell Peppers

SSE member Lucina Cress once told Diane Ott Whealy, "An elderly lady grew these peppers in Ohio and passed them on to me. The chocolate is still my favorite, always so mild and sweet and all the plants would produce early and kept coming on till frost." Lucina had been making the stuffed peppers for more than a decade. "I think I first listed the pepper seed in the 1981 Seed Savers Exchange [Yearbook]. I always offered to send the recipe for stuffing and canning with the pepper seed. Each year our branch of the hospital auxiliary stuffed miniature peppers for the hospital bazaar. We canned over seven hundred jars some years and we were sold out by 11 a.m."

Lucina's recipe for her Miniature Stuffed Peppers:

Pickled Mini Bell Peppers

Shred cabbage fine (SSE staff recommend the 'Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage'). For each 3 quarts of cabbage, add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and let stand for 20 minutes.

While the cabbage is soaking, wash enough of Lucina's Miniature Bell peppers of all colors to make 15 pints. Cut a small opening on top and take out the seeds. (I always save the seeds to offer in the Yearbook and hope everyone else does too!)

Squeeze the liquid off cabbage and discard.

Add to cabbage:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Mix cabbage and stuff inside the peppers. Place in jars. Boil together:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water

Pour over peppers in jars and seal. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Order seeds for Miniature Chocolate, Miniature Red, and Miniature Yellow Bell Peppers in our online store!

Taken from SSE co-founder Diane Ott Whealy's new book, Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver.

Our mission is to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants. www.seedsavers.org