Monday, August 31, 2015

8-31-15

Hard to believe that another month has gone by!
But with summer moving towards fall... there is a huge bounty coming forth at the local Farmer's Market. Everything is coming in! Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds, garlic, scallions, sweet corn, berries, salad greens and herbs, cucumbers, tons of varieties of squash and more! It's hard to know what to pick... and how much to get... which brings up the topic of storage.

Gardening is sort of a "feast or famine" kind of thing. When the plants do well... there may be a  lot of produce; and at other times... not much. Some varieties do well one year, not so much the next. Weather is key... and sometimes doesn't cooperate with what you've got planted.
When the food is fresh and local, it's best to take advantage of what's currently in season... and get as much as you can afford to, that would be practical for your needs. Then store what you can for future use when produce may not be as plentiful, and of course, enjoy some fresh while you're at it.

There are lots of ideas for storage out there.... here are a few good links for:
-Canning (and here is a good source too)
-Freezing
-jams and jellies, compotes, relishes, chutneys
-dehydrating
-cold storage

I was completely intrigued this past week when one of the local farm folks told me she had been dehydrating zucchini! Whodathunk! She dehydrates smaller slices, and is putting them in canning jars along with other dry ingredients for making soup later on in the year. She is also drying onions and carrots and more for these soup mix jars! ~What a great idea.
I also saw a post the other day from a woman who was premixing all the ingredients for omelets (eggs, milk, herbs, peppers, etc) and putting them in canning jars and placing them in her freezer. She said she takes the jars out the night before and lets them defrost in the fridge whenever she wants to make one. ~Magic!



Another option... is what we did.
We've been cutting and (when needed) blanching foods and freezing foods for future use... and hated to throw out the tops and discarded bits... so the daughter made a fabulous stock.
She took the tops off of beets, carrot greens, bits of onion/ scallions/ leeks,  along with some of the veggies that didn't look so good --like some kale and spinach we had (it was wrinkled and maybe a bit dry... but not ready for composting... just things we hadn't eaten up yet).
To these bits.... she added lots of fresh herbs and celery from our containers, coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and water... probably 8-10 cups... it's a big pot. On the back burner, she brought it to a fast boil, then let it simmer and stew with a lid on, for almost 2hrs. (although she did read that you could cook it all for as little as half an hour, and you will still get good flavor). She then strained off the cooked bits from the broth... and tada! Soup stock!
Her trick? She let the broth cool overnight, then poured it into ice cube trays and froze it. Once they were set, she gathered up all the cubes into a gallon size freezer bag, and we can pull out as little or as much stock as we need for whatever we want to add it to.


You can add these broth cubes to rices, noodle dishes, cooking meat, stir fried foods, gravy and sauces... the possibilities are endless.
See you all tomorrow :)