It certainly seems like the summer is drawing to a close. The nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, some of the leaves are just beginning to pick up some color, and gradually the farm crew is beginning to leave for school, jobs, and other pursuits. This is my second fall of not going “back to school” and while I certainly recognize the time of year, I think relief might be a more accurate word to describe my feelings than nostalgia … Instead of school, my mind turns to the colder months of the year and a desire to preserve some of the tastes of summer to enjoy during the winter. Over the past few weeks here at the farm, we’ve begun the process of freezing and canning all the vegetables we can so that we can enjoy them year-round. We’ve been busy canning and freezing tomato sauce, freezing pesto, salsa, tomatoes, peppers, and we’ll start freezing corn soon. So because I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of any of the animals this week I’ll take a break from introducing an animal and because most of the vegetables in the shares this week are familiar, instead of listing new recipes, I’ll post some suggestions of how to preserve these vegetables so that you can eat them year round (instead of all right now; we realize you might be getting a little tired of tomatoes ….)
Preserving Tips: Just a quick note, most of these will involve freezing vegetables. It’s the method that I’ve had the most success with and I have plenty of freezer space available to me (the biggest issue most people have with freezing). I prefer freezing to canning when it comes to things like Tomato Sauce and Salsa because I like to play around with different recipes. When canning vegetables it is very important to follow tried and true canning recipes to ensure that the level of acidity in the product that you are canning is high enough to kill off harmful bacteria that can cause Botulism. Freezing works for me but if you prefer canning or are limited by freezer space, then check out canning (tomato puree in particular is especially easy to can).
Zucchini: This might be a little late as our zucchini are fading away but zucchini and summer squash can be pureed and frozen for use in soups or they can be grated for later use in baked goods (zucchini bread, muffins, etc.)
Corn: Frozen corn has been a revelation to me here at the farm. I arrived here a recent convert to the deliciousness of absolutely fresh sweet corn but had never tasted any frozen corn that I wanted to eat again. If you’re not going to eat your corn the day you receive it (or maybe the next), try freezing it to preserve it for mid-winter. To freeze corn, blanch on or off the cob for 3-5 minutes, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, and drain. Store in an freezer bag and reheat in some water if necessary when you’re ready to serve it.
Peppers: Peppers are extremely easy to freeze. Simply rinse and seed them, then slice them up thinly and put them on a cookie and freeze them overnight. Then store them in a freezer and take what you need when you’re ready. Frozen peppers are best for cooking as they retain their flavor but not all of their texture when frozen. Peppers also can be incorporated into Tomato Sauce or Salsa to freeze. I’m not going to include a specific sauce or salsa recipe here but you can find many online if you want a specific recipe. I never really follow a recipe but for sauce I just usually saute some onion and garlic and add a bunch of chopped tomatoes and a pepper or 2 along with some chopped fresh basil (and maybe some eggplant or fennel if there’s some lying around). Let it simmer for a little while until I like the consistency and then freeze it in old yogurt-type containers. For salsa, I do pretty much the same thing except I don’t cook anything. I just mix together some chopped peppers, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and maybe a little salt, lemon juice, and cumin. Give it a taste and adjust according to how it tastes. Then freeze in some airtight plastic containers.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes can be frozen just as you would peppers. Simply rinse them off, cut out the core and any bad spots, slice them up and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer overnight. Then transfer to a freezer bag for the long-term. Like peppers, frozen tomatoes are best when cooked. And of course, tomatoes are a pretty key ingredient for Tomato sauce and salsa.
Beans: To freeze beans, blanch in boiling water for two minutes, rinse in cold water to stop cooking process, drain and store in a freezer bag. Simply reheat with a little water if necessary.
Garlic: Just a quick note about garlic (even though it’s not in this week’s share) as there have been a few questions. The garlic you have been receiving recently has been dried so it does not need to be refrigerated (it has only been drying for a few weeks so it will be much fresher and juicier than the garlic you would get at the store). The garlic probably is somewhat dirty and the best way to deal with this is to peel the cloves you want to use and then rinse them off. Otherwise simply use (and store) this garlic as you would any garlic you got from the store.
That’s all for this week from me. But this would be a great week to share any ideas, recipes, thoughts you have for preserving some of the vegetables that you don’t immediately eat. Does freezing work for you or do you prefer the long-term convenience of canning? Whatever it is, it’d be great to hear your ideas!
Have a good one!