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Sweet Pickle Relish

I LOVE sweet relish. When I have a hot dog, it’s relish only. A barbecue without relish is tremendously disappointing to me. I feel comfortable canning pickles, and I felt like it was time to tackle relish. But have you seen all the little diced pieces???

I didn’t have a food processor, and didn’t particularly want another appliance to figure out. This summer, I found a food processor attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. It slices, it dices, it does it all! I love it. And it made dicing all the relish ingredients super-easy.

Here is the recipe from the Ball Blue Book. I had to make a couple of adjustments because I wanted it to be prettier. Yes, really. For the onions, I used half white onions, and half red onions. Then, instead of green peppers, I used orange. It’s REALLY pretty!

Recipe

Ingredients  Ingredients2

Pickling Salt

It’s a very easy recipe to follow, and it’s processed in a water bath. No pressure canner needed! When the veggies are done soaking in salt water, the best way to drain them is to line a sieve with cheesecloth so none of the little pieces go down the drain. While that drains, combine the other ingredients in a pot, bring it to a boil, then add the veggies and simmer.

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Simmer, then scoop your relish into the jars, close them up, and drop them in the canner. Process for 10 minutes, and you have relish. Easy-peasy.

When the relish is first canned, each of the individual flavors stands out, especially the onion. I thought of it as pickle salsa. Within just a couple of days, the flavors really start to blend together and become even more relishy. YUM!

JarsI’ve said before, I don’t want to be responsible to anybody getting sick from canning. If you haven’t canned before, I would say purchase the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.” This book is easy to follow and explains all the processes to make sure you’re canning safely.

I made 6 jars of relish about a week ago, and I’m down to 3 jars already. Tori apologized for one of the jars going so fast. What I didn’t realize at the time was that particular jar only had about a tablespoon of relish left in it. She was eating the relish straight from the jar. Carly came to visit and had a taste, and there went another jar. She likes it straight from the jar, too.

I’ve been keeping an eye on our cucumbers in the garden, and I think I’m going to have enough for one more round of relish. I’ll have to hide it from the kids and ration it out over the winter.

You can find the Ball preserving book, as well as canning supplies, AND the Kitchen Aid food processor attachment at my Amazon store.  http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20

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Farm Seasons

Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall are for city folk. I’ve decided the farm seasons are Spinning/Ordering, Planting/Shearing, Harvesting/Preserving and Holidays. There are chores for every season, and we’re getting the hang of the flow of things. We measure the success of our timing by watching the farms that have been around awhile. It’s quite satisfying to spend a day tilling, then head into town and see all the other farms spent the day tilling, too. Old-time holidays like St. Distaff’s Day also help us with our timing.

The Spinning/Ordering season comes at the beginning of the year. It’s too cold and wet to start planting, the harvesting and preserving is done, the holidays are over, and it’s time to gear up and get ready for spring. My fleeces get washed and carded, and I spend my days indoors, in my warm cozy house, spinning my yarn for projects.

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As the winter stretches on, we start heading to the mailbox in anticipation. Seed catalogs! They arrive when we’re tired of being cold and are looking forward to spring arriving. We look over what we had last year, what worked, what didn’t, and what we want to try this year. Different seeds are available at different times, so the seed ordering happens in stages. I think they do that on purpose, so we have something to look forward to throughout the cold days.Homestead Plan

More sunshine means Planting/Shearing season has arrived. I’ve been spreading alpaca and chicken poop over the garden beds all winter. After the first week of sunshine, Charlie was out with the tiller getting the beds ready.  Charlie has already started planting some seeds in the sunroom, and will begin transferring them to the garden around mid-April when the threat of frost has passed – we hope.

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It’s also time to schedule shearing. Alpacas don’t do well in the heat if they’re in full fleece. Imagine wearing a fur coat all summer. Yeah, they don’t like it, either. This is the first year we’ll be responsible for shearing our boys, and it’s been scheduled for May. I’m excited to get Spike’s and Tajo’s fiber directly from them, but I’m also nervous about getting them through the day.  Fortunately, there are professional shearers who come do the tough part for us. We’ll be visiting other farms to help with their shearing as well.

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 Harvesting/Preserving season is definitely the most labor-intensive for me. Charlie does such a great job with the garden, there’s a TON of stuff to bring in. I have to harvest and preserve the fruits and vegetables when they’re ready, not when I get around to it. This can mean days in a row of picking, hauling, cleaning, slicing, chopping, blanching, pickling, jamming and canning. I love doing all of this. This year, I’m getting a pressure canner, so I can can more of the veggies, instead of freezing. I’m also getting a gel mat for the kitchen. Standing on the tile floor for days at a time makes my feet very unhappy. It’s worth the pain in the feet, and very rewarding, when the shelves are full of jars, and the freezer is full of containers of produce to use later.

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Finally, we get the holidays! The garden beds are empty and covered for the winter. Food is stored for the winter. And it’s time for a change of pace. Nature forces us to slow down now by becoming too cold and wet to do anything else. Last year, we tried to do a fully homegrown Thanksgiving, but some things still had to be store-bought. Like the turkey. This year, we’re starting to plan earlier, and expect to pull off Thanksgiving 100% from the farm. That will take up a good portion of November. I made most our holiday gifts last year, and plan to do it again this year. I’ll start some of the long-term projects in October, but most things will be put together in December. There will also be the holiday baking that HAS to happen. This year Raymond and Reta Jean should be able to help out a lot, and I’m really looking forward to that. Even though it’s still a busy time, it’s a slower pace, and time to spend with family.

Over the past year, we’ve learned so much about life on the farm. We’re rested from the winter and ready to get to work. Temperatures are rising and grass is growing.  I’m sure we’ll learn more this year, and make plenty of mistakes. And through it all, we’ll be having a ball and loving life!

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Redmon Review 2014

I’ve never really been one to review each year, but this one has been a doozy!  Moving to Redmon Woods in mid-2013, we had puttered around with enough different ideas that we were ready to get to work January 1, 2014. Lucky timing for us.

We started with a large empty space and a few ideas. By April, things were really shaping up. We tore out old fencing, built our goat/chicken shelter, sunk new posts, installed fencing, tilled the garden area, built raised beds, and started the garden. Yep, Charlie and I, all by our little ol’ selves.

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finished yard

While we were building, the chickens got busy laying eggs. After a lifetime of store-bought eggs, we’ve supplied all our own eggs, and lots of Carly’s, since February.

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I also got into the world of fiber, and oh, what fun that has been! I had no idea what I was doing, so I joined the local Spinners Guild, met an absolutely wonderful group of people, and learned the fiber world is quite diverse. Once I was convinced I could actually learn to spin, we got to work finding a spinning wheel. Charlie is an eBay ninja, and I had my first wheel within just a couple of weeks. I learned to make felt, needle felt, spin yarn, and crochet. With a left side that doesn’t always cooperate, I figure this took me longer than most people, but that’s OK. I got it.

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In the spring, all the local feed stores stock up on ducks. We were doing well with the chickens, so it was time to give ducks a try. I don’t know if it was just our ducks, but they weren’t really happy in the water. Peanut and I decided we would need to teach them to swim before we let them romp around outside.

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The first few months of the year, Charlie and I attended every animal show there was at the fairgrounds. In an agricultural area, that means something every weekend. We learned about goats, rabbits, sheep, and alpacas. After lots of research and investigation and research, and considering my new fiber adventures, we decided we would rather have alpacas than goats. (Goats are still on the to-do list, but they had to wait.) We got involved with Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue. The two founders, Shari and Jackie, allowed us to come help with their annual shearing. We met their rescues and learned about their organization, and we were hooked. We’ve worked on a few rescues with them, and continue to learn more. Meanwhile, Spike and Tajo have moved to Redmon Woods, and we LOVE them. They make me smile everyday. Next year, we’re hoping to expand their yard so we can bring home some more. There are so many beautiful, sweet alpacas that need homes, we want to do everything we can to help.

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Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue

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Spike and Tajo Come Home

Charlie started the majority of our garden from seeds. He then did all the transplanting. Eventually we decided I would take care of everything with legs, and he would be responsible for everything with roots. Charlie’s hard work paid off big-time. By summer, the garden was producing more than we could have imagined. We were thrilled, but that meant I had to figure out what to do with all these garden goodies. I spent months harvesting, washing, freezing, pickling, and making jam. All new things for me.

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My summertime “final exam” was making lasagna. Now, I’ve made lasagna several times in my life, but this was different. This time around, I made the tomato sauce, cheese, and pasta. I added veggies from the garden and sausage from a friend who makes his own. Judging by how fast the lasagna disappeared, I’d say I passed my exam.

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The garden has long since been put to bed, and the chickens and ducks have taken a little winter break. We’ve been  busy with the holidays, and Charlie bought me a drum carder for Christmas. I’ve been working on carding and spinning alpaca, gearing up for the new year’s projects.

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So much new stuff! Hard to believe we had done none of these things at the beginning of this year. It’s been our greatest adventure, and we can’t wait to tackle our to-do list for 2015.

And, of course, through it all, these silly kids kept us on our toes and made it all that much more magical.

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If interested, many of these projects can be found in previous posts.

Things to Learn

I enjoy every day on our farm, whether it’s chores, crafts, or fun in the kitchen. I’ve read and read and read to learn to do the things I enjoy today. There have been many useful websites that have helped me on my little adventure. When I read what I write about some of these companies and sites, I feel like I sound like a sales person for them. I’m not. If you buy products through my aStore at Amazon I get a very small commission, but other than that I have no financial interest in any of these businesses or products. They are things that have helped me along the way, so I’m sharing them with you to help you get started on your own homesteading adventure. Have fun!

Items I’ve used and written about in my posts, I’ve listed in my Amazon store, so you can find them easily. Please check it out!

http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20HUTCH-BOOKSHELVES-KITCHEN

The Ball Canning website has instructions, recipes, product information, and lots of useful tips for successful canning. I refer to them often.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/0915141600

New England Cheesemaking Supply Company has everything you need to start being a cheese maker. I’ve used Ricki’s Mozzarella kit, and her Basic Cheesemaking Kit is next on my wishlist.

http://www.cheesemaking.com/1002141422b

You don’t need to be a full-on homesteader to enjoy different aspects of the lifestyle. The Homesteading Today Forum is full of helpful people, who can offer all kinds of information and support.

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/American Gothic

Mother Earth News magazine is also available online. SO much information about gardening! They even have a garden planner that we used this year.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Homestead Plan

Grit magazine  has lots of fun articles, covering everything you need to know about rural living – and includes blogs and videos!

http://www.grit.com/RJ and pacas

If you want additional information about anything I’ve posted here, let me know!

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The Lasagna Project Day 1: Tomato Sauce

Some superwoman, at some point in time, may have been able to make everything for lasagna in one day – maybe, I don’t know – but I am not that person.  I’ll make one component a day. I’m starting with the tomato sauce because it can be canned, and doesn’t take up refrigerator space.

I tried to make tomato sauce last year. I ended up with something more like stewed tomatoes, because I hadn’t learned patience, yet. Really. Simmer and stir for 2 hours? I got it this year. It’s all about the process.

Let me start by saying tomatoes are not very user-friendly. They get ripe whenever they want. While you wait for some to ripen, others are getting rotten. Meanwhile, it’s getting colder outside and the plants are getting less and less happy. (Farm tip: I learned you can bring fully grown, unripe tomatoes inside where it’s warm, and they will ripen at a more consistent rate.)0930141314

My handy-dandy canning book calls for 10 pounds of tomatoes. Cool. I have 8. Nobody’s looking, so I’m going to cheat a little. If green tomatoes can be fried, they can be made into sauce. Right? Right. I run out to the garden and grab a few big, shiny green tomatoes to add to the mix.

Here are the directions:

Core and quarter tomatoes. Start with six of the quartered tomatoes in a stainless steel pot. Use a potato masher and spoon, and mash and stir as you add the rest of the tomatoes. Once I got the first tomatoes going, I got into a core-quarter-mash-stir pattern with the remaining tomatoes.

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The recipe calls for 2 ½ cups of onions and 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. I did the chopping before I started the tomatoes because I was afraid I’d burn the tomatoes. Our onions are fairly small, so it took about 10 to get 2 ½ cups.0930141338a

Herbs, spices & seasonings: 1 ½ tsp oregano; 2 bay leaves; 1 tsp. each salt, pepper and sugar; ½ tsp. pepper flakes.0930141400a

All the goodies get dumped in with the tomatoes to simmer for 2 hours. During this time, continue to mash and stir. It’s done when the liquid has reduced by about ½ and the tomato mixture has thickened. I let mine go for 3 hours because I wanted it thicker.

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Now is the tricky part. The whole goopy mixture needs to be pushed through a fine mesh sieve. The directions say to do this in batches. Let me add SMALL batches. I scooped two ladles of sauce into the sieve at a time. Then, I used the bottom of the ladle to mush everything through, leaving the tomato skins and seeds behind. Toss out the seed and skin muck, and do it again. I initially tried this in larger batches, and it just doesn’t work.

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The sauce goes back in the pot to boil. Meanwhile, the jars and lids have been prepared. (Remember, it can take about an hour for the giant canning pot of water to boil. I started mine about 30 minutes before I ran the sauce through the sieve.)  A tablespoon of lemon juice is added to each jar, and then the sauce is added. Screw lids on and process for 35 minutes.

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The recipe is supposed to make 6 pints, but mine made 5 because I let it cook down thicker. Sauce done! Next step – cheese!0930141839

Note: I do not give specific canning instructions because I think people need to be more aware of the science behind it. I would hate to leave out an important step here, and have people end up sick. That would be bad. It’s not hard, though. I promise. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a great resource for learning to can. Or you can check out their website.

http://www.freshpreserving.com

You can also find the book and canning equipment at my Amazon store.

http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20

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Lasagna 101: Intro to The Lasagna Project

Last summer, Charlie and I hit all the local farmers markets on a regular basis. By the end of summer, I was quite pleased with myself when I made a 100% Farmers Market Lasagna.

This year, I’m stepping it up! I’ve been waiting all summer to have everything ripen in our garden to make 100% Redmon Woods Lasagna. The tomatoes took their sweet time getting ripe, but they’ve finally gotten themselves ready.0930141311

Here’s what’s happening! Italian tomato sauce will come from our tomatoes and onions. Next, I’ll make mozzarella and ricotta cheese. I’ve made this before, and it worked, so, fingers crossed. Finally, I’ll make the pasta, using eggs from our own chickens.0930141537c

In the interest of full disclosure, some things will have to come from off-property. Flour, sugar, herbs and spices, and garlic will have to be bought. Charlie tried to grow garlic, but it just wasn’t cooperating this year. I will be using farmers market garlic, so it’s almost as good as coming from our own backyard. I’ll also have to buy milk for the cheese. I’ve used both raw milk and store-bought pasteurized milk for cheese, and pasteurized actually works better than raw. Goats are on the wish list, so maybe the milk will be home-grown next year. I was going to make vegetarian lasagna since we have no meat animals, but the family likes meat. Fortunately, we can get sausage from the farmers market.0930141537

That’s the plan! The rest of this week, I’ll be taking you through it step-by-step. This is my “culminating project” to wrap up my summer gardening and canning. We’ll have the family up for dinner this weekend to see if I pass.

I’ve added all my lasagna-making supplies to my Amazon a-store. Take a look!

http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20

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Pumpkin Butter

I woke up so excited to make pumpkin butter today. Charlie harvested all our pie pumpkins, so I have lots to work with. I went online last night to find directions that didn’t start with “1 CAN of pumpkin.” I got up early, got my pans, pots, knives, and other doo-dads together, and got to work.0929140741

The first step is to make pumpkin puree. This means the pre-first step is to get the pumpkin ready to puree.  I cut the tops off, then cut the pumpkins in half. Easier said than done.  My pumpkins fought me the whole way. Using an ice cream scoop, I scooped out the seeds and guts. The chunks of pumpkin then get cooked on a cookie sheet at 350 about 45 minutes, until tender.

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We have a super small oven, so I can only fit 2 small cookie sheets at a time. This first step is going to take awhile.

*Oops. Carly needs to run errands in town, so the babies are going to come play for a little while. I can see them from the kitchen while they play in the living room and watch a movie. I have a good start and a good system, so it won’t take me long to finish.

When the pumpkin is soft, I let it cool a bit, then cut the skin off. This part is really easy.  The seed wads go into a bowl to pick out the seeds for planting next year. The pumpkin tops and skin go into the scrap bucket for the alpacas and chickens. The pumpkin goes into the blender to puree. This has to be done in fairly small batches because only one pan of pumpkin is done at a time.0929140912a0929140915

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*This is about when the laundry room floods. Carly is on her way with the babies, so I have a few minutes to clean it up, while pumpkin is doing its thing in the oven.

Pumpkin Butter Recipe

Crock pot full of puree (about 20 small pumpkins)

4 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

Cook 6-8 hours in crock pot, on low, to thicken pumpkin mixture

I’m not done with all of the puree yet, but I start putting it in the crock pot as it’s ready, so it can get started thickening. This is also when I add the sugar and spices. Yum!

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*And now is when the power goes out. When you live in the sticks, everything is electricity. I have pans of pumpkin in the oven, two racks of pumpkin cooling, a blender full of pumpkin ready to puree, and a crock pot, almost full, ready to cook.  I also have 2 toddlers in the middle of a movie that has just shut off. It must be time for lunch. Can’t cook anything, so PB & J it is!

Two hours later Raymond, Reta Jean and I had lunch, colored, and practiced spelling. Carly and Tori are home, the power has finally come back on, and I’m back in business.

The rest of the cooking, pureeing, and processing goes off without a hitch. I add more puree to the crock pot and still have quite a bit left. I bag 9 1-cup portions to freeze and take the scrap buck outside. The alpacas and chickens are pretty darn happy with me. Now, the crock pot just has to do its thing. Tick-tock…

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The crock pot has done its job, and the house smells SOOO good! Canning experts say it is not safe to can pumpkin puree, and I’m going to listen to them. I have processed the pumpkin butter as if I were canning it. This seals it into jars to help preserve it, but it will be stored in the refrigerator. I have a total of 7 1-pint jars.  Of course, I sneaked a few tastes and it’s like pumpkin pie in a jar.

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10 Simple Steps to Summer Jam

Some people may get upset to find their cars splatted with purple bird poop. Around here, it just means the blackberries are at their peak. What better way to spend a fabulous late-summer day than picking berries and making jam?

Once upon a time, I thought jam must be super hard to make. I mean, it’s JAM. I would have never guessed it only takes 4 ingredients and, maybe, an hour. Waiting for the water to boil in the canning bath is the longest step.

Today, I set the giant pot to boil, while I went out to pick berries.  The birds were singing, the dogs went slopping through the pond, and it was just a gorgeous day to be outside.

So, here’s the quick version of Jam 101:

1) Fill your giant pot with water

2) Place jars and lids in the water

3) Wait FOREVER for the water to boil10570292_10204306015360270_9068468852897967950_n

Boiling jars sanitizes them so your super-yummy jam doesn’t grow something that will make you sick.

4) In a stainless steel pot, mix mashed berries, sugar, and lemon juice

5) Take the jars and lids out of the boiling water and set them on a towel to be filled. (We have tile counters. If we put hot glass on cold tile, it will shatter. I learned this.)0915141343_zpsc67vnhuo

Don’t turn off the boiling water, or it will take FOREVER to start boiling again

6) Once the berries are boiling, add pectin and boil for 1 more minute.0915141342_zpsqdtvbpqr

Pectin is easy to find. It’s usually in the baking aisle at the grocery store, right next to the jars and lids.

7) Scoop the foam off the top of the fruit

8) Using a funnel and ladle, scoop the jam into the prepared jars

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10) After boiling 10 minutes, remove the jars from the boiling water, let cool, and you’ve made jam!0915141600

Canning jam really is that simple. I’ve deliberately left out specific ingredient amounts and processing times. I’m not a canning expert, and if not done properly, you can end up with spoiled food that could make you sick.

You can find preserving directions and recipes at www.freshpreserving.com.

The directions for this blackberry jam are in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Books and canning supplies can all be found on Gabba’s Bookshelf and at my aStore.

http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20

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Pickly Deliciousness

My mom taught me to cook when I was a little girl. I’ve been baking cookies 0909140914as long as I can remember. If there’s a recipe, I can usually follow it, and come out with something resembling the picture in the cookbook.

Pickles are a different thing, altogether. Quick pickles, refrigerator pickles, freezer pickles, brined and fermented pickles. So many choices and so many different ways things can go wrong. I like to know that when I’m finished, I’m going to have something to show for my efforts. With pickles, there are no guarantees.

Tori and I made some quick pickles a few weeks ago. They weren’t bad, but they were0910140813-1_zpsq8fqiaqz a little disappointing, as pickles go. They’re good on hot dogs, and I think they’ll be good in egg, potato, or pasta salad. I’ll have to try that next time I’m not spending the day canning.

I started another, brined, fermented batch of lemon cucumber pickles several days ago. I thought they had to soak for a week. I double-checked the directions this morning, and I was supposed to drain and boil the liquid, rinse the cucumbers, and put it all back together EVERY DAY! Really? Oops.

*Never mind. I checked again and the cucumbers are supposed to soak one week, THEN drain, boil, rinse, repeat every day for one more week. Glad I didn’t throw them out. See how confusing pickle recipes can be?

This weekend, I cleared out the cucumber patch, so I had a lot of cucumbers to work with. I found a mid-length recipe, and got going with it. So. Many. Steps! But, I think 0910140836-1_zps6m71pnluit’s going to be worth it.

First step, mix sliced cucumber and pickling salt in a stainless steel bowl and let set for 3 hours. Easy enough. Except pickling salt is hard to find. That’s OK, though, because I already had to figure out this one. Kosher salt can also be used. Table salt cannot. Something to do with additives and clumping – that was enough of an explanation for me.

Then, you rinse the cucumbers and put them back in the bowl. Boil a mixture of water, vinegar, and turmeric, and pour the boiling liquid over the cucumbers. (As I was smelling the boiling vinegar and turmeric, I kept wondering if this made some sort of toxic gas. Not the best smelling mixture.) That all soaks until it returns to room temperature – about 2 hours. I had no idea there was turmeric in pickles. Never gave it any thought. That’s what gives them their yellowish color.

Again, drain and rinse. Now, I get to add the good stuff. Water, vinegar, sugar and pickling wpid-wp-1410395499895.jpegspices all boiled together. Smells. SO. Good. (Pickling salt is hard to find, but pickling spices are right there with all the other spices. All mixed together and ready to go.) Finally, I’m done for the day, while this all soaks overnight.

Up and at ’em bright and early to finish these off. They smelled so good, I had to sneak a few slices. Yum! Now, the liquid and cucumbers are separated again  and the jars are prepared. The liquid is reboiled, after brown sugar is added. Have I mentioned it smells SO good? Cucumbers in the jar, liquid over the cucumbers, lids on, boil the jars, and DONE!wpid-wp-1410395499884.jpeg

I think I’ve found the recipe and process that works for me. A 24-hour process that gives me 9 pint jars of super-yummy pickles. Cheeseburgers are on the menu tonight – with extra pickles!

The full recipe can be found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which is listed at my Amazon aStore.

http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20

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It’s Freezing(time) Around Here

The garden is starting to look a little funky as the summer crops 943are coming to an end. I stripped all the ripe veggies from the plants, and have a ton of squash!  I really like canning, but squash doesn’t can well, so it’s time to freeze.

Freezing is easy, right? Just chop stuff up, throw it in a bag, toss it in the freezer and you’re done! Nope. I did my homework and learned there’s a little more to it than that.

First, you want to have an idea what you’re ultimately going to do with your vegetables. You don’t really 939want to freeze chunks of something that you’re eventually going to want grated. You also don’t want to defrost 4 cups of something, if you only need 1/2 cup for a recipe. After washing everything, I spread it all out on my kitchen floor to see what exactly I had. I grated the zucchini and measured it in 1/2 cup portions to be used in recipes. The beans were trimmed and cut into pieces for steaming, later. Patty pan and piccolo squashes were quartered, and yellow squash was cut in chunks. There is so much green squash, I chopped some of it into chunks to use later in soups, and the rest I sliced for casseroles and steaming.

* For slicing, I used the Simple Slicer from Pampered Chef that my daughter-in-law gave me for Christmas. So easy! Did I mention she’s a Pampered Chef Consultant? Check her out here: https://www.facebook.com/julianneredmonpamperedchef?fref=ts

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Once everything is cleaned and cut, you need to blanch it all. You do this because it’s what the books say to do. OK, you really do it to stop the ripening process, but I only know that because it’s what the book said. Blanching is kind of magic. You put the veggies in boiling water for 3-5 minutes and all their colors become brighter. I have a colander that fits into a pot, and that makes it much easier. I can plunge the vegetables into the boiling water, then bring them out again, without having to drain and boil water over and over and over again. I only switch out the water when I switch vegetables, to keep the flavors from overlapping.942

After you stop the ripening process, you have to stop the cooking process. Freezing mushy vegetables probably isn’t a good idea. With the vegetables still in the colander, I dunk them into ice water and run cold water over everything until it cools. Once the vegetables are cool, I dump them out on a towel to dry a bit before freezing.955

 

 

 

 

 

NOW, it’s time to bag and freeze. 958Snack-size bags work great for 1/2-cup portions. Vegetables that will be used alone or in soups, I bag in 4-cup portions in gallon bags. I didn’t end up with a lot of beans, and I didn’t want to freeze them all in one batch, so they’re in 2-cup portions in quart bags. Everything is labeled with name, amount, and date. And now, we’ll never run out of squash! Ever.

For those of you who are really observant and noticed the cucumbers in the group shot, I’ll be pickling those tomorrow.

For books about preserving and equipment for blanching, check out my store on Amazon:

http://astore.amazon.com/redmwood-20