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The Middleton Farm CSA, LLC News

Located in central Michigan, Middleton Farm uses all natural farming methods to produce only the best meats, fruits and vegetables that nature has to offer.

Preserving Your Harvest

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.

Freezing

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.

Packaging:

  • Cool all foods and syrups before packaging to speed up the rate of freezing and help retain the natural color, flavor, and texture of the food.
  • Packaging materials must be moisture-vapor resistant; durable and leak proof; protect foods from off-flavors and odors; and easy to seal.
  • Good packaging choices for freezing foods include rigid containers made of plastic, glass or aluminum; semi-rigid aluminum foil pans; plastic bags; and flexible wraps including plastic, foil and laminated paper. For best moisture-vapor resistance, be sure to choose bags, wraps and boxes made especially for food freezing.
  • Allow enough headspace so food can expand without breaking package seals.
  • Label each package; include the name of the product, any added ingredients, packaging date, the number of servings of amount, and form of food.
  • Use freezer tape, or pens and labels made especially for freezer use.

Successful freezing:

  • Freeze and store food at 0°F or lower for the best quality.
  • Freeze foods as soon as they are packed and sealed.
  • Do not overload the freezer with unfrozen food.
  • Leave space among new, warm packages so the cold air can circulate freely around them. When the food is frozen, stack and store the packages close together if desired.
     

Zucchini

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.

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