Posts Tagged Vegetables

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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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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Everything is up for the Fall Garden

I went out to take a look at my raised beds, my first ever and was surprised to see everything is up! Even the spinach which I’ve had problems in the past germinating. I guess it works better if you just plant the seeds in the ground. The lettuce, radish, beans, cucumbers, spinach, carrots, and arrugula are up. This week, I planted some additional things like basil, cilantro, peas, and beets. I’ll wait to see if those come up in the next week. I’m so glad I’m getting back to gardening. It’s such a pleasure to see things grow! I’ll post pics soon.

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Garden Update 08-06-09

I am so sorry for the lack of postings. We have been very busy with our house. We finally finished our backyard which I have photographed and documented so I’ll get them up and posted soon. The backyard was such an exciting yet stressful task. My poor husband did a lot of the work. First, we knocked out a large area that was concreted and had to dispose of. Luckily, we found a place that takes used concrete and recycles it and makes new concrete and all for free! We were so excited to hear this because our local dump makes us pay to dump things. After the concrete, we added concrete. Interesting uhh?!? We added a walkway on the side of the house. It looks really nice. A funny story about the concrete though. After my husband had worked so hard on the concrete, we had to keep the dogs off it. However, I had a blond moment and accidentally let the dogs out to go potty and guess what they did. They walked right down the middle of it!!! Eeek. I had to tell my husband what happened. He thought I was joking. I wasn’t. He was able to fix it though. Whew!!

After the concrete fiasco, we had to dig trenches for the sprinklers. I helped with this tedious task. It was hard but when it was done, it was done!!! We then put my garden fence up. I have a little area for my garden now! We built two out of three raised beds and I have dirt and compost in one of them. The other one is partially full. It won’t be ready until we can get a hold of some dirt or compost. The third raised bed is yet to be built. Last weekend, I was able to start some seeds in the bed that was full. I planted a variety of veggies. Let’s see if I can remember all the stuff I planted: tri-color beans from Renee’s seeds, cucumbers, carrots, arrugula, radishes-cherry belle, and a lettuce mix. It looks like it’s a salad raised beds.

Everything I planted from seed this spring did not make it through the hot summer. I had most of them in pots but the demanding watering schedule got the best of me and most withered away and died. By the time we had the raised beds made and filled; it was already 110 degrees so planting them then would have been detrimental. I’ll have fall to redeem my gardening rep though. Stay tune. I’ll try and keep up with my postings!

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Veggie Update 03/20/09

I’ve slowly started putting my tomato, peppers, and eggplant seedlings outside in the backyard. They are getting acclimated to the weather. I still do not have a dedicated garden space yet so I’ve been placing them onto of this old picnic table we have in the back yard. The dogs, however, have figured out how to get on the table and pull out lettuce seedlings. Urgh…those dogs but they are just so cute when I see them with a fistful of lettuce in their mouth frolicking about. And then you’ll see me chasing them screaming “No!” As the old saying goes, “you win some and you lose some”. It just seems I’ve lost quite a bit to the little rascals! I hope they don’t get to the tomatoes and peppers though. Those took a long time to germinate and it would be such a shame to lose them now. I set those on top of a planter on the table so unless they knock the planter down, they’ll be fine.

 

The other day I planted more herb seeds. We use a lot of herbs in our cooking so growing herbs is important to me. I planted more lemon balm, chives, basil (large leaf, and Genovese), thyme, and oregano. I have them in 3 inch pots and they’re sitting on a sunny windowsill. They’ll germinate in a week or so and I’ll slowly take them outside with the other seedlings. Other things that are sprouting under my grow lights are marigold-snowball, zinnia-envy, impatiens, coleus, and more! I also planted some more pepper and tomato seeds. I forgot some names but I labeled the container so I can go back and check. The ones I do remember are supersweet, red currant, and Mexican honey.

 

I’ll have to take some pictures tonight.

But For now, here are some pictures of my veggie seedlings

 

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in jiffy pots

 

 

Bibb and buttercrunch lettuce seedlings

 

 

Seedlings 30 days

 

 

Endive seedlings

 

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Repotting seedlings

In the past 3 years I have been vegetable gardening, I would plant all my seeds in seed trays with 72 divisions. And since I am not the greenest of gardeners, I normally did not get 100% germination on all my seeds so my seed trays always had bare spots sprinkled amongst the divisions. This always bothered me because I was a perfectionist and the fact that I could have had other seeds that would have germinated in those spots. I am sure other gardeners have also felt this frustration. So I promised myself that I would not do this the next year. However, my forgetfulness got to me and I continued with my habit of taking out my large seed trays and planting my seeds in them. Then I remembered my promise to myself the previous year. So, I pulled out some old trays I had laying around (a cheap way to get your hands on these is to save the trays you get from the frozen dinner meals. They’re perfect size to start seeds). I planted a lot of veggie seeds in these and once they developed their true leaves, I pricked them out and set them in my seed trays with divisions. That way I got a full tray of seedlings and no empty spots! I thought I would share my “aha” moment with yal.

Yesterday, I took some endive seedlings I had planted in a pot and moved them into their individual spot in a six-pack I had. Afterwards, I marvelled at how pretty and neat it looked with seedlings in every spot! I was very proud of myself. I also moved some bibb and buttercrunch lettuces into their own spot.

My tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings are doing well. Although they have been slow to germinate, I’ve been getting several pop up on me daily. To aide in germination, I decided to take the trays with me to work in my car. My car gets a lot of sun throughout the day and I thought it would be a perfect spot for my seeds to get some heat. So in the car they went yesterday along with my seed potatoes I have been chitting.

The potatoes already have little eyes on each one of them. They should be ready to pot up in the next couple of weeks. Since we haven’t gotten around to making raised beds, I have decided that I am going to plant almost everything in containers. I plan on planting the potato seeds I have in pots and moving them to their final place when we get everything set up. I hope this is okay for potatoes to do this. If not, I’ll know for next year.

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More Seed Starting

 

 Early spring veggies in 2008.

On Saturday, I planted more flower and veggie seeds. The other day when it was sunny, I decided to take my seed trays out for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately, when I brought them in, the tray snapped and some of the 9 packs fell out spilling dirt and I would assume some seeds. So, just to be safe, I decided to plant some more seeds. Instead of using 6 or 9 packs I decided to plant them in trays in little rows. I planted some more butterhead lettuce (Renee’s garden), black seeded simpson lettuce, romaine lettuce (trade), arrugula, coleus, cabbage, broccoli, bok choi, impatiens, violas, bells of irelands, and snap dragons! Whew….that was a lot.

I also got some elephant garlic on Monday from the grocery store. The garlic is from Christopher Ranch. I planted it that day and I hope to get some sprouting soon.

The lettuce, bok choi, savoy cabbage, butterhead lettuce, and la rossa lettuce sprouted and are under the grow light. There are more seeds that sprouted but I somehow forgot to label them. It’ll be easy to figure out once they’ve fully sprouted and I can check them out visually.

Still no progress on the eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. I set them directly on top of the lights to get some heat to them but we’ll see in the next couple of days. I’m really excited to see if the “little prince” eggplants I got from Renee’s seeds turn out! I’ve been debating whether or not to purchase a heat mat for my seeds but it seems like setting them on top of my fluorescent lights is fine. I have two lights on the bottom of my rack and I balance trays on top of the 2 and set my containers on top and they seem to be fine. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. That’s all for now, happy gardening!

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