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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Real Food Wednesday: Preserving Summer's Bounty

I was asked many moons ago to join in on Real Food Wednesdays and just never quite had the time or the right kind of post ideas. However, this time, I do!

Those of us who try to eat seasonally and don't buy summer produce in the winter still sometimes have a hankering after spring and summer fruit and vegetables. For instance, we freeze our berries along with making jams, jellies and preserves, so we can use them when the mood strikes us without paying the prices in winter or worrying about the questionable farming practices and the distance required to bring them to us and therefore the quality of the fruit and its flavor.

You are supposed to lay them out in a single layer on jelly roll pans and then put them into airtight containers in the freezer. We are lazier than this and we freeze a LOT of berries, so this method is hugely time consuming for us, as we don't have enough jelly roll pans to do this in one or two batches. Instead, we make sure the berries are quite dry (don't wash them first - I am against washing berries anyway, as it waters down the flavors, buy or raise them without pesticides and don't roll them in the dirt and you'll be fine) and freeze them in the little pint baskets (also has anyone else noticed stores and even fruit stands trying to pass off half pint baskets as pints? We don't buy their "pints" and instead seek out people who sell full pints as full pints and half pints as half pints) and dump the whole thing into freezer bags with as little air in them as possible. We use those double walled freezer bags as well.

Another short cut in freezing (as I am terrified of pressure canning and I am too lazy to do the whole blanch in boiling water and put immediately into ice water routine) vegetables like green beans is to freeze them in water. They come out almost as though they were picked that day and take no extra time. Drain out the water and cook as you wish. This way you are not at the mercy of agribusiness or the high cost of organic frozen vegetables during the rest of the year. You won't have to eat those awful canned green beans which look and taste olive drab and are questionable as to what else is in there with them. You can use your home grown green beans or locally grown or organics that you get during the summer.

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You know we have actually been working hard towards "in-season" only foods...and found that canning and freezing fresh produce was such a blessing in the winter as the "in-season" is pretty harsh in the winter...potatoes and squash are the foods left for our winter bounty!

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