Monday, March 10, 2014

Saving the Harvest means Saving Money

 
Bell Peppers:
 
Nothing is more disheartening than having the produce that you worked so hard to raise and harvest go to waste in the produce bin of your fridge because you had too much or your did not get around to using it. Same goes for store bought produce
I have thrown away or composted more beautiful fruits and veggies than I care to admit to because it spoiled before I used it. Knowing that is just wasted money,  I am really making a much greater effort these days to keep that from happening.  Here are some of the veggies I have recently harvested from my fall/winter garden that I have put up in the freezer.
Bell pepper diced up and spread on a cookie sheet to freeze before dumping in to freezer bags keeps the pepper pieces from sticking together to form one big ice lump. I use the same method to preserve fresh berries and even grapes.  
 
  
Collard greens are another crop that grows so abundantly here in the South that you are guaranteed to have more than you can use at once. Being from California, greens were a dish that I had to grow to love but since my Southern husband and daughter in-law love them I decided to give them a try and now I do like them and grow them too. To prepare any kind of greens, first the stem must be removed (I feed those to my rabbits) and then the leaves can be diced into smaller pieces and quickly blanched in a pot of boiling water for about 2-3 minutes and then rinsed in cold water or dunked in ice water, drained and then put into freezer bags for later use. I do the same with excess kale and even cabbage. I think anything from brassica family could be blanched and frozen. I sometimes will puree the Kale into a more liquid form to add to smoothies since it is so highly nutritious. I have yet to master Kale chips, I hear people rave about them but mine tasted kind of like dirt so until I find a more tasty way to make them I will pass.
 
I know for many these tips may sound simply basic, but for people like me who grew up with TV dinners and boxed mac n cheese they are new and valuable skills to learn, allowing me to save my harvest and save money by reducing wasted produce.
 
Collard Greens: