Archive for March, 2010

What Vegetables are Good for Freezing? Handling and Storage Ideas

The plan this growing season for me is to can, freeze, preserve, and dehydrate fruits and vegetables we do not consume and have an abundance of (i.e. peak of tomato season where we have lots of tomatoes). This is a big endeavor for me since it will be my first time preserving what I grow. I have gotten a lot of books detailing how to  preserve vegetables from your garden. I have been busily reading and noting what techniques to use. A great reference book I would recommend is Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. It details every vegetable you can grow and how to preserve them. It’s an invaluable resource to any gardener who wants to pursue this adventure.

I have read a lot about preserving vegetables by blanching and freezing. Freezing is a great way to lock in nutrients. Blanching is the process of dropping your desired vegetable in boiling water for a set time (typically for 30 seconds to 3 minutes). After blanching, you will take the veggies out and place them in an ice bath consisting of water and ice cubes. After they have cooled, you can freeze them flat on a tray in the freezer before packaging. Since, you’re not completely cooking the vegetables you keep the nutrients and texture of the vegetables. Happy gardening everyone!

What you’ll need to freeze vegetables is simple:

-desired vegetable you want to preserve
-pot
-water
-bowl
-ice water
-bags (sandwhich or freezer) and/or small containers (1 quart)
-freezer

Here’s a chart of vegetables that will do well freezing, when to freeze, and how to handle and store them:

What to Freeze

Time to Freeze

How to Freeze

Berries Spring to Fall Wash your produce, air dry and freeze
Broccoli Spring and Fall Cut into bite-size pieces, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Chard Spring, Summer, and Fall Blanch until wilted (several minutes) It will look like wilted spinach. Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
Edamame (soybeans) Summer to Fall Simmer pods in salted water for approximately 5 minutes. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain, and freeze
Peas Spring to Fall Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Peppers Summer to Fall Slice, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Snap beans Summer to Fall Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Spinach Spring to Fall Blanch until wilted (several minutes) Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
Sweet corn Summer Cut kernels from cobs, simmer in hot water for 2-3 minutes. Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches

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Gardening Books to Review

I just checked out a couple of gardening books from my local library. I will provide a in depth review of them in a week time.

In the mean time, I have added my cursory, first glance review below:

Homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs : a bountiful, healthful garden for lean time

by  Jim Wilson
(picture credit: http://www.amazon.com)

First-glance review: I love the pictures. I was salivating looking at the pictures. They look as if I could just grab them! The advice is easy to read and more aimed at a gardener just starting out…like me.

Square foot gardening : a new way to garden in less space with less  work
by Mel Bartholomew
(picture credit: http://www.shopping.yahoo.com)  

First-glance review: When I looked through it, Mel, the author is very knowledgeable in many different styles of gardening. He also provides how-to’s to better improve your garden. I really like the graphs especially the seed-starting graphs.

Grow great grub
by Gayla Trail 
(picture credit: http://www.growgreatgrub.com)

First-glance review: Gayla Trail, author of You Grow Girl has done it again. She has great projects and tips in this new book. It is for the every day gardening: beginning, intermediate and advance.

Happy gardening and stay tune for a full review!

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Spring Seed Starting 03-14-10

Yesterday, I started another tray of seeds. I love starting seeds and seeing each little seed’s progress through the upcoming days.

Here’s a list of what I planted:

Tomatoes:

Patio Tomato (Burpee)

San Marzano Plum Tomato (Wintersown)

Oregon Spring Tomato (Wintersown)

Campbell’s Tomato (Campbell’s)

Beefsteak Tomato (American Seeds)

Marglobe Tomato (Groco Seeds)

Sweet Gold (Tomato Growers)

Supersweet 100 Tomato (Burpee)

Eggplant:

Little Prince Eggplant (Renee’s Garden)

Peppers:

Cubanelle Pepper (Lawn and Garden)

Sweet Banana Pepper (Ferry Morse)

Jalapeno Pepper (Ferry Morse)

California Wonder Pepper (American Seeds)

Others:

Sunflower tall (Groco Seeds)

Baby Pumpkins-Mini Jack (Renee’s Garden)

Sugar Pie Pumpkin (Lily Miller)

Lunaria (Burpee)

Flax (Groco Seeds)

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Update Fall Gardening

Here are some pictures of how the fall garden started out. Enjoy!

French Lettuce Mix (swiss chard, bib, black seeded simpsons, beet, etc)

Purple Podded Beans 21 days from seed

Basil Seedlings 21 days

Carrots 21 days from seed

Update of the Fall garden. I was able to have success on all the seeds I planted in my raised beds and I planted a lot of things. The list includes: beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, garlic, cilantro, basil, radishes, arugula, spinach, cucumbers. It was a busy fall and winter. The beans were the success of the story. It was so nice to have so many different colored beans in your dinner. We grew purple podded beans, green beans, and yellow wax beans. I allowed a couple of plants to grow and dry so I would have some for next year. I absolutely love the purple podded beans. They are actually a bush variety that produces purple beans. However, when you cook them, they turn green. I believe the purpose of the purple shell is so it is easier to find. Imagine picking green beans in a sea of green leaves!

Almost everything survived the winter except for the beans, arugula, cucumbers, and basil. Those are typically warm season plants so I did not expect much from them. I was able to enjoy a plethora of arugula before they died. I had planted arugula in my front yard and I allowed them to seed and I find arugula everywhere now. So beware, arugula can be a weed to some gardeners J. I enjoy them nonetheless.

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