Lum: It’s an early harvest time |

Lum: It’s an early harvest time

The rule used to be that you shouldn’t plant your Aspen garden until Memorial Day weekend, but the weather had been so tropical that my friend Hilary planted the peas as soon as it paused raining in early May.

Now the peas are almost higher than the house. Hilary gets up on a stepladder to pick them, and I shell them. Boil the peas for a couple of minutes, spread to dry on paper towels, freeze them on cookie sheets and bag them in freezer bags when they are hard as rocks. We will have peas all winter.

The raspberry bush, which has to date enticed not a single bear, is going crazy — freeze those puppies right off the vine without washing. They have not been sprayed, and the dachshunds can’t reach them.

Meanwhile, it’s Olathe corn season at the local stores and our farmers market. I pick the thinnest ears for young corn and cook these two at a time in the microwave for eight minutes (four minutes for one ear). They shuck easily under cold water and are delicious.

Some time in the past decade, Olathe switched most of its crop from golden corn to a blend of white and yellow. If anyone knows where to find the pure gold, let me know.

To freeze corn, I microwave the ears for half the time, let them cool and shuck them without using water. Slice off the kernels with a sharp knife, then break the kernels apart, spread them on cookie sheets and freeze, finally transferring them into freezer bags. If you hold the cobs under water while shucking them, you can never get them dry enough to keep the kernels from freezing together.

Tomatoes aren’t quite ready for prime time yet; it will probably be another month before I buy a couple of boxes to can. One box makes about 12 quarts — very easy to do; just drop the tomatoes into boiling water for about 20 seconds, remove them, and peel the skins off. Push the skinned tomatoes down into sterile jars, add a dash of salt, boil the jars for a half hour, and you’re done.

My favorite fresh-tomato recipe: Peel and cut in half crosswise enough tomatoes to pack the cast-iron skillet or baking pan you’ve chosen. Sprinkle the upturned halves with salt, pepper, a bit of sugar and a combination of equal parts Parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs. Over that, drizzle olive oil mixed with pressed garlic. Bake at 400 degrees for an hour.

Sliced tomatoes with Boursin cheese, olive oil and basil make a very tasty salad.

Last summer I found a peculiar-sounding recipe for sugared raspberries. First, you use a basting brush to paint a raspberry with a fork-beaten egg white and then cover the berry with baker’s sugar.

I had no idea what baker’s sugar might be, but I found it in the baking-goods section of City Market. It is finer than regular sugar and comes in a cardboard box the size of a half-gallon milk carton.

Sugared raspberries are labor-intensive, but kids might like making them. One at a time, you take a raspberry — still damp from the egg white — and roll it in the sugar.

Put your tray of sugared raspberries in a coolish place overnight, and the next day they will be transformed and will melt in your mouth.

If you have a glut of raspberries, you might want to boil them down with a bit of sugar and water, strain the juice and put in jelly jars stored in the fridge, ready to be poured over ice cream some nasty night in January.

Su Lum is a longtime local who likes to hold on to summer however she can. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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