Now as we head into August, the fruits of our labor begin to really ramp up!
Last night I went out and spent about a half an hour doing some harvesting.
I picked three zucchini (two off one of my volunteer zucchini plants), a mess of pickling cucumbers, more than half a dozen japanese eggplant, a tomato, some Green beans and 5 slicing cucumbers. I also have more peas out there that need to come in, which I will probably do later today.
What the heck does one DO with all this food? Especially knowing that there should be a whole lot more coming right on its heels?
At this point I'm throwing out a serious request for eggplant recipes. When I planted this eggplant I thought I might get a couple or a few. I have gotten dozens!! Help a girl out!
Anyway, as I have talked about in the past we do can some of our harvest. This year we have made dill pickles, dill beans and bread and butter (sweet) pickles. Of course we eat as much of the food fresh as we can, so I am eating about a cucumber a day (just by itself, mixed in with things, on salad, or with hummus) and the green beans have been added to some delicious pasta dishes. The peas we just eat or add to salads.
But there is just the two of us, so we have to preserve the food in some fashion. I like to use my freezer.
Now, some people are against the idea of freezing your garden harvest because if the power goes out for a long time you could lose your harvest. It is possible, but we rarely have power outages here and so for now I am taking that risk. Another reason I have, thus far, opted for the freezer is because I do not have a pressure canner, which is required to can certain low acid food items because boiling water alone doesn't get the food hot enough to kill bacteria.
I use my freezer to preserve a lot of my garden bounty.
Last October Chris and I did a freezer inventory, which is very important, because as anyone with a freezer knows, freezers are kind of like the dryer-and-the-sock scenario. Stuff disappears in the freezer. You put something in there, but it disappears in and amongst all the *other* stuff you put in there. If you are going to use your freezer as a serious food storage device I highly encourage you to do (at least) a twice annual inventory.
Here is what our inventory looked like from October 2011. This is from both our chest freezer and our kitchen freezer.
Chris emptied out the freezer and I wrote down and tallied how much of what we had. We had A LOT of stuff in there because it was just the end of garden season and we had packed it full of garden bounty, plus all the regular stuff.
Last week, Chris and I did another freezer inventory. This time I was trying to get an idea of what we still had in there from last years garden so that I could do some meal planning and get those items used up before I started filling it up with this years harvest. This list is not quite as comprehensive, because I know that I still have some jam and hot pepper sauce and a few other things hanging out in the bottom that I haven't used, but it is a pretty decent representation of what is in there. The strawberries, plums, blueberries and muffins are all newly added. All the scratched out items have been used in the week or so since I did this inventory.
Here is the really cool thing, the things (from my garden) that I still have consist of:
2 snack size baggies of roasted corn
1 snack size baggie of green beans
1 sandwich size bag of smoked peppers
a whole lotta baggies of pesto and pesto cubes (which means I need to get those added to food asap!!) I had quite a bit of tomatillo sauce cubes but have used two full sandwich size baggies this week, so I made a dent in those.
some tomato juice cubes
shredded zucchini (though I just used 6 cups worth a couple weeks ago and made 3 batches of muffins which are now in the freezer)
blackberries (making a dent in those this week by adding them to my cereal/yogurt breakfast)
and a baggie of lemon juice cubes.
That's it!! That is all I have left in the freezer of last years garden!
What this means is that I did an excellent job of actually using the food that I grew and preserved, throughout the fall, winter and spring, to feed Chris and I.
For some reason I am ridiculously proud of myself about this.
My answer, then, to the question of "what do you do with it all???" which I get asked fairly often, is freeze it! Freeze it, and then use it all year long!
Do you freeze to preserve? Or do you can? Or do you dry?
I do a bit of all of them, but primarily, at this point, I freeze.