Everyone I talk to seems to have a very productive Spring garden this year. Mine is still rocking along and I’m doing my best to keep up with all of the veggies I’ve grown. I’ve got more than I can eat, and I’ve been supplying friends with veggies, as well. Since I don’t shop at the grocery store (525 days now!), I want to preserve my garden bounty for when these fruits and vegetables are not in season.
There are many ways to preserve foods, and you can make jams and conserves from just about anything. But, I’m a savory kind of gal and don’t eat sugar or sweet things very often, not out of principal, I just don’t like sweets.
I still have tomato sauce in my freezer from Fall, so I don’t need any more pre-made sauce. I use it during the winter for chili and stews. So, I simply froze a large bag of tomatoes, whole, and another large bag of diced tomatoes. The frozen tomatoes won’t ever be slicing tomatoes again, but I’ll be able to use them a number of ways.
Trying to mix it up, I also oven dried some tomatoes, with sea salt, garlic and oregano. I sprinkled the dish with fleur de sel, grated garlic, and garden oregano, and laid the de-seeded tomatoes on top.
After 3 hours in a 200 degree oven, they were mostly dried. They could have used another hour, but time constraints dictated I take them out. I’ve got lots more tomatoes coming, so I’ll be drying more. The concentrated flavor is heavenly.
- Oven Dried
I want to eat peppers year round as well. I’ve got loads of jalapenos and serranos to pickle soon, but the ancho and poblano peppers needed a different treatment. I simply roasted them over the flame on my stove, then peeled, deseeded and sliced them. They will keep in the freezer until I’m ready to use them.
One of the highlights of the Spring garden is the fabulous and aromatic basil. I grow lots and lots because I love it, and I love the pesto I make from it. While you can make pesto from any of the garden herbs, my favorite is basil. Cleaning the basil takes a while, but after that, you just pop it into a food processer with garlic, parmesan, pecans (pine nuts are more classic, but pecans are local) olive oil and sea salt. Blend it up, and its ready to go. I will make pesto several times during the season to ensure I have enough for myself and friends all year long. If you are going to freeze it, add some extra olive oil on top and it won’t dry out.
- Basil Pesto
My cucumbers get the classic dill pickle treatment. I make a brine from vinegar, pickling salt, pickling spice and bring to a boil; then simply ladle it into the jars containing cucumbers, dill, garlic and a serrano pepper. Finish theh process in a 10 minute water bath to seal the jars.
How are you preserving your garden harvest? I’d love to hear your favorite techniques!