Harvesting the Garden – Five Tips on Preserving the Bounty
Tomatoes – Core and Freeze
Early Girl is a good variety of tomato for this preservation method, because they seem to grow uniformly in size.
Wash and core the tomatoes.
Place tomatoes in rows into a gallon sized freezer bag and seal. Voila!
In order to save freezer space, the air may be forced out of the freezer bag before storing. Here’s a favorite method:
The bag is stocked with all your little rows of tomatoes. Don’t seal it completely, but leave a one or two inch opening at one end.
In a sink full of water, submerse the bag, all but the opening. As the water forces the air out, quickly seal the little opening. When it’s finished the effect is as if it’s vacuum-sealed.
When ready to use in a recipe, run warm water on each tomato, and slip the skin off. The great aroma of fresh garden tomatoes fills the air, and whets the appetite.
Peppers – Wash and Freeze
Peppers are easy to preserve because they are worry free. Being acidic discourages bacterial growth. Chop, or dice, or cut into big hunks.
If you went with the big hunks – break off pieces as needed once they are frozen.
Storing tip: cut the tops out of the peppers, and nestle one pepper inside the other for saving space.
Carrots – Dice or Slice and Freeze
Carrots can stay in the ground up until December most of the time. Save them for soups and stews using any sealable plastic container. Slice, chop, or dice and only fill partially. Add water to cover, leaving room at the top of the container for expansion.
This method also works with celery. Herbs and spices like parsley, chives, sage, or dill work well with this method. If baby food jars are available, these are the perfect size for storing herbs.
Recipe time, add the whole jarful into your soup or stew.
Green Beans – Add Flavor before Freezing
Freezing causes the flavor of beans to taste green, or they get too soft after blanching. The very best is straight from the garden to dinner table. Some success may be found combining the ingredients of a favorite recipe, and then freezing.
Beans need to be blanched in a hot water bath since they are low in acidity. If they are cooked in a recipe at a high temp, this serves as blanching. Add tomatoes and onions with the beans, cook at high temp for about five minutes, season to taste then freeze.
Garlic – Don’t Freeze
Garlic doesn’t freeze well, because it tends to get a funky flavor. One way people store garlic is to submerse either whole cloves, or minced garlic in olive oil. Refrigerate the mixture and it will last a long time.