Friday, August 07, 2015

Growing surplus food, into the freezer

Franklin, recovering from chicken pox
Unlike last year, this year has been great for growing vegetables here in my garden.  I've even had enough surplus to begin freezing.  In fact, I'm a little low on freezer space...
Mallow, feverfew, clematis
The first thing to go in my freezer actually came from my neighbor's garden.  I gave her a couple spare tomato and zuccini seedlings earlier this summer, and then promised to water her small growing patch while she's away for six weeks.  Well, it rained for a solid week, so I didn't bother visiting, and when I finally did, her zuccini had made a monster!  I picked two off her plant, one weighing in at just under 2 pounds, and the other a more modest 1 pound.  I started off my freezer adventures with the monster zuccini (no picture, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about).
Morello cherries, netted against birds
Though before I started freezing monsters, I froze a whole gallon of morello cherries from my little tree.  This tree is so cute!  It's not even as tall as me, but it had so many cherries this year.  Last year I froze about a third of a gallon, so it was definitely a big increase.
I built this barbecue! It's meant to be wood storage underneath, not brick storage
Next in my freezer saga are the beginnings of my runner beans.  I can't remember the exact number, but I planted approximately 40 plants, up against my neighbor's 1m tall fence.  I hung bamboo canes from the top of the fence with S hooks, and then threaded some cotton string from the canes down to the ground, and tied each string to a bean plant.  The strings and canes are now completely hidden, and I have been picking a large handful of beans every other day, some to eat and some to freeze.
Red geranium, yellow calendula, white feverfew, orange crocosmia
The most abundant vegetable in my garden this year is definitely kale.  I've got two different kinds, Tuscan (dark and crinkly), and Sutherland (smooth and wide).  I think I prefer the Sutherland, as it's less work to clean;  and since the leaves are a lot wider, there is a bigger proportion of leaf to stem:  easier to chop.  They both taste lovely though, the Tuscan a little milder in flavor.
Tuscan kale and orange crocosmia
I've frozen both kinds of kale;  like the other veg, I chop it up, then blanch it for about a minute, and plunge in ice water to cool (shock).  For the kale, I press it into a cup measure, and gently squeeze out excess water, and turn it out onto a tray to freeze, in a little ball shape.  The other veg generally gets spread out over the tray in a single layer.  Once frozen, it goes into a ziploc bag.
Sweet cherry tree, hydrangea, and pink poppy, near the old chicken yard
I've been meaning to freeze some chard this way too, but haven't got around to it.  I've got some absolutely beautiful rainbow chard this year;  I've been saving my own chard seed for years now, and it never disappoints.  This year's is bigger and brighter than ever. 
Main veg plot, viewed from the back
So that's the extent of my freezer exploits thus far, but I anticipate even more.  There's the Brussels sprouts, climbing beans, my own zuccini, leeks, and of course the already mentioned kale, chard, and runner beans.  I also have some which I won't be freezing, namely potatoes, lettuce and cabbage, plus apples and almonds.  Here's to a long and bountiful summer of veg!