Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Preserving the last of summer's harvest...

Last week, we started getting little "kisses" of frost in the garden... a sure sign that the end was near. Luckily, we spent several hours harvesting and pulling up most of our veggies and plants before the hard frost came this morning. I think there's still a bit of chard and parsley left, but that's pretty much it!

Much of the vegetables we harvested will be fine for weeks or months to come, if properly stored... many varieties of winter squash, potatoes, onions and carrots. But the tomatoes and peppers were starting to attract my urgent attention after a few days in the fridge and on the counter. I've been canning produce for years. Maybe because of this, I've grown more and more fond of freezing! It's just so much easier! This year we've tried blanching and freezing everything from beans to zucchini, with quite a bit of success. Today I decided to try a few methods recommended to me by friends and folks out in the blog-land. I also wanted to test out the wood pellet grill that we bought at the beginning of the summer.

First, I roasted some Anaheim peppers on high heat, then covered them up to "steam". Instead of peeling them and seeding them right away, as I usually do, I threw them whole into the freezer. I plan to put them in bags, and use them as I need them. Word has it that they peel quite easily when taken out of the freezer and put under running water.
Next I turned the heat down, and smoked and slow-roasted almost all of the tomatoes we had left. I bought some garlic-infused wood pellets just for this occasion. After they'd roasted for 3-4 hours, I took them all off, and ran them through the food processor and into jars to be frozen. I'm really excited about this technique! No peeling, seeding, food mills, or water baths! The consistency of the sauce was incredible! Far better than any I've previously made. I'll try to let you know how it holds up to the freezer, but I suspect they won't last long! In fact, now I'm almost wishing I had more tomatoes.
To cap things off, I made a batch of zucchini bread after supper to eat for breakfast tomorrow!
All in all, we've grown a LOT of vegetables in our garden this year, saved a lot of money, and eaten healthier. As usual, I'm a bit relieved to put the garden to bed this time of year, and focus on a different season and different activities. But it's good to know that summer's bounty will be enjoyed for a long time to come!

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