Tuesday, July 3, 2012


"How to Grow Vegetables" is one set of lessons that I have learned somewhat and am still picking up in bits and pieces.  But what to do with the vegetables after you've grown them?  That's another topic entirely. While I love growing these vegetables every summer and enjoying them in as many dishes as I can dream up, there is also something really great about being able to pull them out of the freezer in December and still enjoy a little taste of fresh summer food.  Not to mention that when two people plant enough food to feed an army, it becomes kind of necessary to figure out something to do with it all.

Enter this website.  I don't even remember how I found it, but it has become my first resource when I am wondering what to do with a vegetable or fruit.  It is where I learned the value of saving those perforated plastic bags that you sometimes get tomatoes in from the store... they come in handy when storing other vegetables.

Another tip I have learned, and I don't remember where or else I would give credit, is when dealing with fresh food from your own garden, it's best to hold off on washing it until you are going to eat it.  Washing it can create extra moisture, and if you are storing it in the fridge, that can lead to mold and spoilage.  So, keeping the vegetables dirty (brush off as much as you can, but they will not look perfect) may actually extend their life span.  Here are a few tricks I have learned for keeping various vegetables:

1) In the case of leafy things, like the omnipresent swiss chard, I just make sure it is free of bugs, wrap it in some paper towels and put it into a freezer bag, unsealed, and store in the refrigerator for a few days.  I haven't fiddled with trying to freeze this stuff yet.

2) In the case of sugar snap peas, I'd pick them, not rinse them, and store them in one of those perforated plastic bags in the fridge for a few days.  To freeze them, I did rinse them, then blanched them briefly (around 1 minute) in boiling water, then shocked them in a bowl of ice water.  I laid them out to dry and then spread them out on a cookie sheet in the freezer overnight.  Then I put them into a freezer bag and back into the freezer.  This way they do not freeze in a big clump that will someday be difficult to cook.

3) In the case of berries, which I have never successfully grown but do buy in unreasonable quantities when on sale in the summer, you use the same basic technique.  Rinse, dry, spread out on a cookie sheet and freeze, then put into a freezer bag for storage.

Let this be a reminder that you can also preserve store-bought fruits & vegetables...

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