Summer is here and it is a perfect time to enjoy the bounty of fresh produce from our backyard organic gardens. But do you ever wish you could have this produce ready for meals a few months from now? Or do you find you have too much of any one crop right now? If so, the solution is to preserve and store these fabulous veggies for future use! Yard2Kitchen Organic Gardens has a few tips for some common crops.
Did you know you can freeze your endive? While it is a bit soft when thawed, it is perfect for adding to soups, pasta dishes, or smoothies.
And to preserve the bright green color, blanch the endive for a couple minutes before freezing it and cool it quickly with an ice water bath. Then store it in a vacuum-sealed freezer bag and freeze it.
You can freeze lettuce! Although it will not be good for salad once thawed (it will have too many ice crystals), it is perfect for soup or stock, quiche, casseroles, and stir fries. You can substitute frozen lettuce in any recipe that calls for spinach.
The best types of lettuce for freezing are thicker-leafed lettuces such as romaine, or Boston. To freeze lettuce, separate the leaves, wash them, and blot them dry with towels. It is very important to dry them as much as you can before freezing. Then put the leaves in a vacuum-sealed freezer bag and pop it in the freezer.
Arugula is a great base for pesto which can be frozen, and we recently uploaded a recipe on our YouTube channel for arugula or spinach pesto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgoccM97CAU&t=21s
But if you prefer to have other uses for arugula, you can simply preserve it in olive oil and freeze it. Then you can use it for pizza toppings, pasta, stir fries, and other recipes, even more pesto if you are craving that again!
One method for freezing is to use a pie tin and chop as much arugula you can to fit just below the rim of the pie tin. Then add extra virgin olive oil until it’s about an inch deep. Put the tin in the freezer and when it’s totally frozen, break it into chunks that you can then store in the freezer in freezer bags or a large glass jar.
Just as with lettuce – don’t expect to thaw your frozen spinach and eat it in a salad. Freezing this type of produce breaks down the cellular walls, so it will be wilted and watery when thawed. But frozen spinach does work well in soup or stock, stir-fry, dips, quiche, pasta dishes, and smoothies.
You can freeze whole spinach leaves (totally dried) in a freezer bag, and you can also puree and freeze your spinach. Put the spinach in a blender and add just enough water to get the blender going. Then freeze in bags or ice cube trays.
Pickling produce is a great preservation method, and cabbage is delicious when prepared this way. Here is an easy recipe we found on https://morningchores.com/preserving-cabbage/
Simply toss the cabbage in a bowl with salt and let it stand for 12 hours. Then put a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Rinse the veggies with water and place two teaspoons of minced garlic over the veggies along with two to three teaspoons of pickling spice. After the veggies have been mixed with the spices, pack them into mason jars tightly. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes. When the jars have cooled and sealed, place on a shelf in a cool, dark location. Don’t open the cabbage to eat for three to four weeks to give it time to pickle.
We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and as always, feel free to contact us with questions.