We have begun to bring in our 2019 garden harvest and we’re “putting up food.”
We’ve started by blanching / freezing and pickling. By the way, we have read quite a bit on “to blanch or not to blanch” fresh veggies before freezing. In this post, we blanched our veggies (actually, beets are not simply blanched, but cooked with skins on for about 35 minutes).
I know many of you know what blanching means, but for those who may not, from Wikipedia:
“Blanching is a cooking process wherein a food, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water or oil, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water to halt the cooking process.”
Usually this timed interval is 1 or 2 minutes. Although, I’ve done a 30-second blanch on greens before.
This past weekend, we brought in a nice harvest – our first “big one” of the season.
Grocery Shopping in the Garden
Beautiful beets, cucumbers, carrots, red potatoes, and sugar snap peas. I also had some zucchini (not a lot because of the squash bugs) gathered previously that I blanched and froze as well.
Interested in the process of preserving carrots and beets?
Here’s a picture-filled walk-through of our steps!
Love Those Beets!
Once the greens were removed, we weighed the beets. We had 9 pounds to work with.
We trimmed the tops of the beets and left the trimmed top and the root intact. (LEAVE THE SKINS ON. They will slip right off the beets after boiled.) Then, we rinsed all of the dirt off in luke-warm water (on the cool side).
By the way, you can saute fresh beet greens like fresh spinach. Our beet greens have been beautiful this year! Mr. Gordon did save a selection of greens from this batch, washed them with cool water, patted dry, then froze the leaves in a carefully stacked piles. We’ll see how they fare.
Back to the Beets
We brought water in 2 stock pots to a boil.
Depending upon the size of your beets (small, medium, large), you will need to adjust your time. Our beets were probably in the medium to large range, so I went with a 35-minute boil.
After the Boiling, Ice Water Bath
You will want to carefully remove the beets from the boiling water and place in ice water that you have prepared in advance so the vegetables can go from boiling to cooling as fast as possible. The ice water bath with help stop the cooking process.
Skins Slip Right Off
I didn’t take any pictures of me slipping the skins off because my hands were covered in red beet juice.
You CAN wear gloves (like food-prep friendly plastic gloves), but I would rather not wear them. Keep in mind that the beet juice washes off your hands pretty easily… but the juice can color the whites of your fingernails (not so pretty).
After I slipped off the skins, I ran the skinned beet under cold running water to rinse off any pieces I missed. Than, the slicing began! 🙂
(I also put a bit of plastic wrap on my wooden cutting board, but that beet juice color still bleeds through a bit.)
Nine pounds of beets – weighed with greens off, but skins on.
Eight bags of sliced beets, into the freezer!
Putting up carrots
We also put up a little bag of carrots! First we removed the carrot tops. Apparently, you can use the tops like you would parsley. I’m not too sure about that one. They smell good, but taste like grass. For me, they can become wonderful compost!
Cut into thick slices
I ate a couple of raw slices – what flavor!
A Quick Blanching
Two minutes in boiling water.
…and into the ice cold water to halt the cooking.
Prepare to be frozen!
So, after the ice bath, I spread out the carrot slices on the tea towel to drain / dry a bit. Then, I take a flat cookie sheet, cover with saran wrap, and then spread out the slices across the sheet before popping them into the freezer.
This is also how I do diced zucchini when blanching (a minute, less than two) and freezing.
I place up-side-down ramekins in the center of the bottom trays so that I can stack them and utilize more space. Here are the carrots and zucchini!
Just a quick snapshot of the freezer in the kitchen
We have a small freezer in the basement, but for now, we’ll stock up the kitchen freezer with our homegrown frozen veggies! 😀
Carrots are people too!
Okay, maybe not, but we thought this “carrot person” was amusing.
Oh! And Drying Herbs!
Fresh dill and basil, drying to package for use in winter months – and we started to gather some chamomile flowers to dry for tea.
We have central air conditioning (we got lucky when we bought our home) and the herbs are hanging in a spare bedroom that is particularly cool and dry. I might put some brown paper bags around them, but this will work for now.
What are you “putting up,” preserving, freezing, canning?
I’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in a comment!