If you find yourself looking down at your harvest share™ and wondering, "What will I do with all of these vegetables?", keep reading, hopefully you will come away with some new ideas to preserve your bounty thru the cold winter months. And don't forget to keep checking in here, as we will be adding new tips and ideas as we have time.
There are several ways to preserve fruits and vegetables for later consumption. Unfortunately they do not provide the same quality of product in the end. In other words, if you take 4 pounds of green beans, and freeze a pound, can one, dry one, and pickle one, when January rolls around and you take them out to eat them, you'll have 4 different flavors and textures. Fortunately, most fruits and veggies take very well to one or more preserving processes and give you the flavor, texture, and nutrition that you are looking for from locally grown produce.
Since freezing is the most popular way to preserve fruits and vegetables, we will cover this one first.
Keep the freezer 2/3 full: For your icebox to perform most efficiently, you should keep it about 2/3 full. This will allow good air circulation, and help prevent ice build up. One trick to help you is to fill empty milk jugs with water and keep them in when your freezer is less full, and remove them when you add contents.
Freeze fresh foods quickly: Don't let fresh fruits and veggies sit around too long. When they are picked at the peak of freshness, they will quickly lose their flavor and nutrients. Also, natural enzymes found in the produce will cause them to spoil.
Freezing Veggies: Wash and chop your vegetables, if necessary, then blanch them in boiling water (usually about 1 to 2 minutes). When they are taken out of the boiling water, place them in an ice water bath to halt the cooking process. If they are cooked too long, they will turn soggy and mushy. Drain or dry on paper towels to remove excess moisture.
If you like zucchini bread, prep your large zucchinis for freezing. Peel your large zucchini, remove the seeds, and shred. Take the shredded zucchini and place it in a colander in the sink for a few hours to allow the water to drain out. Then add cinnamon, sugar and any other flavorings you like in your bread and mix. After you have everything mixed well, divide it into portions. Place the portions into plastic bags, squeeze out the air, and freeze. When you are ready to make bread, thaw out a bag.