Farmstead Kitchen- Preserving the Harvest
Things are simpler on the farm this summer, without trying to fill CSA boxes each week. I cannot lie, it’s a relief. When you cannot do something extremely well, it is better to let the ones who DO, do that! Hopefully you are supporting your favorite local farmer by participating in a CSA this season, or going to the farmer’s market near you and patronizing your most treasured local farms. Buy as much as you can from them! They depend on this short window of the growing season to make their living. Don’t just buy what you want to have for dinner- put it up! Eating local year round by preserving the summer’s bounty is just so rewarding, frugal and lower carbon-footprint.
Here on the farm, the garden is growing amazingly well. I have previously done canning and freezing and drying of single ingredients, to allow for flexibility in their eventual use – like canning tomatoes, drying herbs, or freezing chopped garlic scapes. I am still doing that too, but also trying something new- freezing “leftovers.” This is a very simple way to put things up- make your dinner in a slightly larger fashion with your fresh local goodies, and then freeze some of it in dinner sized portions.
Not all leftovers freeze and the reheat perfectly, and this will be a learning curve to be sure, but many leftovers do freeze extremely well. Use up all those reused plastic cottage cheese containers, label what’s inside, and then mark down a “monitor freezer inventory” on your December/January calendar to remind yourself that you have all sorts of ready to use meal ideas already stockpiled. Just an idea for you as you deal with mounds of cherry tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, green beans, kale and chard, etc. I have made and then portioned and froze giant pans of roasted herbed cherry tomatoes and zucchini chunks, braised greens (yummmmm, and this reduces the space they take up in the freezer,) and curries with all sorts of veggies. I also want to remind you this is the time of year to make a batch of herb salt which I posted here last winter.
I just started a big pan of it today and added slices of fresh garlic too, it will be divine! And it is so EASY! You can make it in any quantity, it’s a great way to put those abundant summer herbs to use (and also makes a fantastic gift!) other than boring old dried herbs in the cupboard.
Don’t forget fermentation as a means of preserving. You can ferment many combinations and end up with an absolutely delicious probiotic-rich condiment that will keep in the fridge for over a year!Many of the co-ops offer classes on fermentation but you can also go your own way by utilizing the DIY spirit of Sandor Katz, he has written a most inspiring book called Wild Fermentation, and there is also tons of info on his website. I hope you have a great summer full of enjoyment and the reward of capturing the season by putting up food using many methods for eating local through the year!