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Ripe Lemon drop chillies

Ripe Lemon drop chillies

Although it’s November, we are still harvesting a few summer crops from the garden. Our sweet peppers are nearly over, but the hot chillies are just starting to ripen up. This year we have grown both Lemon drop and Alberto’s Locoto. The latter produce big fat juicy fruits that are best used fresh – I have tried drying them, but they go very hard and need soaking before use. The Lemon drop, however, are more versatile – delicious fresh, beautiful to look at and very easy to dry.

If you look closely there are lots of unripe fruits on this Lemon drop plant

If you look closely there are lots of unripe fruits on this Lemon drop plant

Sadly, it’s getting rather cold and mouldy in the greenhouse now and I know that if I leave the pepper plants out out there, the crop will rot before it ripens. So, I am bringing some plants in to nurture over the winter. I do this most years and some survive in order to fruit again next year. This also allows growing fruit to ripen on the plants. However, there isn’t room indoors for all of them, so some of the chillies will be picked green and allowed to ripen up off the plants in the company of an apple or two… these are usually the ones that are destined for drying.

Fat, juicy Alberto's Locoto starting to ripen indoors

Fat, juicy Alberto’s Locoto starting to ripen indoors

Whatever way they ripen up and make it onto our plates, I know that we will be enjoying the heat of the summer for months to come!

Boxing clever

Ready for roasting

This is what we want!

Autumn seems to have arrived here in west Wales – it’s not cold, but it’s foggy and raining. The garden is still productive: I picked a couple more courgettes the yesterday and we have fresh peppers for our pizza this evening. However, the change in weather does herald the beginning of the end of the summer vegetables.

This year the tomato plants have produced abundantly, but most of the fruit have not yet ripened up. I know that people will tell me to make green tomato chutney but if I did it would never get eaten… we are not fans of chutney or pickles. What I want is a big heap of ripe tomatoes so that I can make some more passata.

So, once the temperature drops and the days get shorter, I will pick all of my tomatoes, irrespective of colour, and place them gently in a cardboard box with an apple. I will close the lid and I’ll put them somewhere out of the way. The apple will produce ethylene, the chemical that encourages fruit to ripen, and the tomatoes will change colour. I will check them every few days, remove the ripe ones and put those to one side ready for use in the kitchen. It’s magic!

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