It's August...It's Time to "Put Food Up"

This week we started selling canning tomatoes in bulk--did you get some yet?

This is the time of year (yes, it's August) when it's time to pickle and ferment, freeze or dehydrate extra produce to enjoy during the long winter. Our harvests are peaking so you should take advantage of the bounty in your share.

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I've been canning already because I make gift baskets of homemade items for gifts. So far I've made dill pickles, dill relish, pickled onions (just a few), and this weekend will be salsa and dilled carrots. 

It may come as no surprise to you that ICF farmers are all foodies. We all like to experiment with the large variety of vegetables we grow, and we also experiment with different methods of "putting up." I freeze, dehydrate, and preserve (can). Sarah Howe shares some of her own recent projects and experiments and general thoughts:

  • Last fall I experimented with freezing ratatouille and it was our biggest surprise delight this winter. I roasted each component separately, combined  everything in a big bowl, and then stirred in fresh chopped basil at the very end. I froze it in pint containers. The colors looked beautiful, I could taste each separate part, and the basil tasted like summer.
  • Frozen broccoli is not going to have the texture of fresh broccoli but it is a useful part of our winter food. I cut it into bite-sized pieces (both florets and stem) and blanch it before freezing it. It is good put into a soup right before serving; let it cook only long enough to be warmed through. I also mix it with rice and cheese in a shallow casserole dish to run under the broiler.
  • ICF's winter share is rich in greens, so this tip is just to give you kale or chard to tide you over on the off-week between pick-ups. Chop and steam the greens and then place small handfuls, about a cup each, separately on a cookie sheet to freeze. These green bundles can then go into a ziplock bag in the freezer and be retrieved individually to go into a stirfry, soup, or casserole.
  • I make pizza sauce in the crockpot, which I run on the porch so the smell won't keep me awake at night. I put everything into the crockpot and cook it on low with the top on for at least 24 hours, mixing in herbs only at the end. I puree it and freeze it in half-pints.
  • I keep a list on graph paper of what's in my freezer. Each food has a row, and as I add to the freezer, pint by pint, I outline a square on the graph. Over the summer I might freeze, for example,  15 pints of tomato sauce in five or six different sessions, but I can easily keep track of what I have by counting the little squares on my graph paper list. As I start taking things back out of the freezer in the winter I put a check mark in the square. I save these sheets to help me decide how much to freeze of a particular item the next year.

We'd love to hear about your tips and tricks for "putting food up."