Archive for the ‘preserving’ Category

Cha-cha sal-sa Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Last week my sis, mom and I made quick work of 18 pints of salsa. Last year we hadn’t done any. It can be quite the chore, but with three (and a couple beers) it was quite a fun evening.

  1. Sterilized jars
  2. First we scalded the tomatoes in simmering water for easy peeling
  3. Peeled tomatoes
  4. Chopped onions, garlic, sweet and hot peppers (make sure to use gloves – I also made it a point to take my contacts out before starting this venture, nothing says, “youch!” like hot pepper in the eye)
  5. Threw it all in a couple stockpots to simmer with some vinegar, a little brown sugar and salt – upwards of 3 hours (we didn’t do it nearly as long as the recipe said)
  6. Just before ladling into jars we added some lime, fresh garlic and chopped cilantro
  7. Ladled to within 1/2″ of top of jar
  8. Topped with sterilized lids and rings, tightened
  9. Immersed jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes

I’ve been eating piles of it. We used a few long hot peppers and a couple jalapenos to two grocery-sized bags of tomatoes. We got an awesome medium heat and it is very smooth.

What a great way to spend an evening.

Boiling over Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Stewed Tomatoes

Tis the time for preservation of the all-too-short season of growth. The Hub cranked out the first 4 quarts of stewed tomatoes. We have one determinate tomato (all fruit ripens about the same time) so we need to stay on top of it to reap the most benefits. Stewed tomatoes are quick, he added some onions too.

  1. Cut up tomatoes into rough chunks
  2. Cook over medium heat till desired reduction to intensify flavor
  3. Put into sterile quart jars
  4. Wipe rim clean
  5. Place on sterile lid and ring (tighten to slight resistance)
  6. Place in boiling water to depth that the lids are covered (sometimes it’s easier to keep it a little shallower and have a hot tea kettle standing by to top it off)
  7. Boil for 15 minutes
  8. Remove from boiling water and wait for the !POP! to know it is sealed – if one doesn’t, just refrigerate til you can use it.

Worst thing about the process is the residual steam when we are trying to keep our house cool and dry.

dragon beans

Other means of preservation: freezing

So far I’ve picked some edamame and froze them in quart size freezer bags. When ready to use, just boil up some salted water, drop them in for 5 min. or so, peal and enjoy.

Our Dragon Tongue Bush Beans are awesome. They are great fresh so I doubt we will need to preserve any. Even when they get big they are still good and not too fibery. When they are cooked though, they loose their distinct purple flecks.

A is for Apricot Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

I’d posted earlier that our mystery tree was an apricot afterall. This is the first year it has both bloomed and borne fruit. The Hub and The Son had stepped out one morning before us girls had awoken and found that many had swan-songed their way to the ground. The boys gathered them up and were eager to present their find.

I could almost watch their orangening sugars release – I knew we had to do something quick to maximize the quick harvest. I took the ripest ones, split them, threw out the seeds and dumped them in my, not yet christened, chinois (french colander). This is a great tool for all fruits that you want to to maintain the highest amount of pulp from but not the sometimes fibrous skins and seeds. You can also use a food processor or a good blender – these won’t take the skins off as nicely.

It just feels good turning the basic pestel round and round as it smashes the fruit through the colander leaving behind the fuzzy, bitter skins. I tried to peel a couple of the little fruits myself – what a mess. What comes out is a lovely, smooth puree.

This puree can them be made into jams, jellies, syrups, etc. What path did I take? Baby food. One of my focuses with our garden this year was to plant baby-food friendly items like squash and edible pumpkins (some varieties are only for looks and aren’t at all palatable) so I was elated that we were also privy to this unexpected bounty. The best/easiest way I know to store baby food is by using an ice cube tray – way quicker and less fussier than canning.

I ladled the yolk-hued goo into each tray pocket, tapped it on the counter a couple times to release air bubbles and then stuck it in the freezer for a couple hours. Once frozen I put the whole lot into a heavy-duty freezer bag and labeled with the month and year.

Now, in about 3 months, when my youngest daughter is ready to try some solid foods, I can offer her this sweet-tart treat, already individually portioned and needing only a brief heat-up. These should keep 6 months in a deep freeze (we have a smaller, chest-style one – awesome for this type of thing), 3 months in a fridge freezer. Can’t wait to use this same system with my pumpkins and squash!

Monday, February 15th, 2010

YARD AND GARDEN EXPO
MARCH 13, 2010
RAMADA INN & CONVENTION CENTER
ABERDEEN, SD

Registration—8:45 A.M. Registration fee- $5

THIS YEAR’S TOPICS

  • 9:00 A.M.:  PRESERVING YOUR HARVEST – Marjorie Zastrow, SDSU Extension Educator—FCS
  • 10:15 A.M. TREE AND SHRUB PRUNING MADE EASY – Aaron Keisz, Aberdeen City Forester
  • 11:15 A.M. HARDSCAPING-PATIO PAVERS & RETAINING WALLS – Jerry Mattern
  • 1:00 P.M. TIPS FOR DIVIDING AND MOVING PERENNIAL PLANTS – Glenda Oakley, Extension Master Gardener
  • 2:00 P.M. SMALL COMMERCIAL GARDEN, MAKING/USING COMPOST – George Piper, Extension Master Gardener
  • 3:15 P.M. FLOWER ARRANGING – Cindy Carlson and Renita Kainz, Lily’s Floral Design & Gifts

EXHIBITORS
Angerhofer Concrete Products; Beadles Floral and Nursery; Gary’s Engine and Repair; Harvest Garden Center; Lily’s Floral Design and Gifts; Parkview Nursery; Boston Fern; RDO Equipment; Scentsy; The Happy Gardener; Prairie Partners Master Gardeners

HOSTS
Prairie Partners Master Gardeners
South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service

Freezing the bounty Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, peas, corn, beans, okra: all keep well if frozen because of their low moisture content, here’s the steps:

  • Carrots will need to be chopped to desired size.
  • In a pot with a steamer basket. Bring about 1-2 inches of water to a boil. Carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, peas, corn, beans, okra in the steamer basket. Steam for 3 min for peas and beans and 5 min for carrots and brussel sprouts (denser veggies need just a touch longer). You really just want the color to brighten, not to get them soft.
  • Let cool just a bit and place in freezer bags. Add to soups, steam later to desired doneness, add to roasts, pastas, etc.
  • Corn: Using an angelfood cake pan. Take a husked cob and stick one end on the center tube of the pan. Use a serrated knife to slice off the kernels. Then transfer to a freezer bag. There is no reason to precook corn for freezing.
  • Okra: Slice into rings and put in freezer bags, or freeze whole. No need to precook.
Preserving the bounty Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Today The Hub will start the preservation ritual. Mostly tomatoes but we do a bit with other stuff too.

Tomatoes: Cook down or stew tomatoes til desired consistency

  • Chunky sauce: Cut chunks, cook off some water – any extra tomatoes are good for this
  • Smooth sauce: Do as above, strain through colander to get rid of seeds or peels – any extra tomatoes are good for this
  • Paste: Follow step for smooth sauce, then put back over low heat, stirring frequently until thick – this can take several hours. Use Roma or plum tomatoes to speed up process (they have less water than others.
  • For sweeter, low acid tomatoes like yellow, pink, orange, etc. Or, just to be safe, add 1 T. per pint or 2 T. per quart of lemon juice. Vinegar may be used but it could change taste. This brings the acid level up to safe levels so botulism does not set in.
  • After your tomatoes are cooked down to desired consistency, take clean mason jars, rings and seals. Put all in a large clean colander and pour boiling water over all. Canning tongs and silicon tongues makes handling these much easier. Pour water out of jars and set on a towel on your counter close to your pot of tomatoes.
  • Using a  funnel and ladle, spoon the mixture to within an inch or so to the top of the jar. Take a clean dish towel and wipe the rim of the jar. Place on a sterile lid and then ring. Screw on only til you feel tension – do NOT tighten.
  • In a stockpot of boiling water with an elevator (a small cooling rack can work for this, just to keep the bottom of the jars off the base of the stockpot – they will burst otherwise). Place in jars – the water should just cover the top of them and the jars should not touch – do not crowd them. If you need more water you should have a backup of boiling water in a teapot just in case. Or if there is too much, ladle it off. Let the jars sit in the stockpot for 15 min. Then, using a canning tongs (it fits around the rim of the jar to pull them out) carefully place them back on the towel – do not bump them again.
  • Within the hour you should hear popping noises of the jars sealing themselves. If any don’t seal, place them in the fridge after cool and use them within a week.
  • Reasons a jar doesn’t seal: the ring was too tight, the rim of the jar was dirty, they didn’t sit in the stockpot long enough, there was too much or too little sauce put in them.
  • Extra: Tomatoes do not need any extra accompaniments to be canned – there acid content is high enough to inhibit any bacterial growth. Once sealed the jars can sit for more than a year. During the initial stewing process, you may add any spices or other veggies you like (do this after the straining process if you want the tomato parts smooth though). Hot peppers, onions, salt, lime and garlic for salsa or basil, salt, pepper, garlic and onions for pasta sauce. Whatever you like. Except for making salsa, I like to keep my tomatoes plain so I can add whatever I like when I want to use them. Many times it’s just a dollop of homemade pesto to make a wonderful pasta accompaniment.