Fresh-n-Tasty Veggies in the Winter

This is post is part of the Hearth-n-Soul blog hop.  Their mission is ‘about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.’  It’s definitely something Mike and I can get behind!  Don’t forget to check out the other participants!

Hearth-n-Soul Blog Hop

Mike and I used to be garden dabblers.  Last year we wanted more homegrown produce so we started expanding our garden.  Easy enough when you’ve got the space around you.

Mike: Easy for you!  I put in those new gardens.  It was Hard work!

Molly: OK, OK,  Mike toiled all Spring to put in a whole set of lovely gardens for us in the backyard.  Happy?

Mike: That’s more like it…

An unforeseen problem arose from our garden expansion.  What to do with all these perishable veggies? Our main go to technique is to blanch and freeze them so that we can enjoy them in the dead of winter.

When we did this for the first time last summer I was a bit skeptical.  Would they last in the freezer?  How would they taste?  We stored them for up to eight months  and they tasted stupendous!

Our youngest daughter Pistol came out to help me on this one.

Blanching Greens

Materials:

Scissors (to cut the leaves)

Cutting board

Knife

Bowl

Pot with steamer insert

Colander

Small baggies

Sharpie marker

Scale (If you want to be anal about it.  Right Mike?)

Instructions:

1.  Clean your sink and fill with cold water on one side and put the colander on the other.

2.  Fill your pot with a couple inches of water and put the steamer insert in.  Bring water to a boil.

3.  While you are waiting for the water to boil go out and pick some greens.  Don’t pull up the entire plant.  With kale, swiss chard and even some lettuces if you just cut off the outer large leaves and leave the smaller leaves in the center the plant will keep growing for weeks, months or even years.

Beautiful Swiss Chard

OK Pistol, I think you've got enough!

4. Next you clean the and cut the leaves.  Pistol and I split the chore- she cleaned and I cut.

Pistol cleans the leaves

and I cut...

and cut the leaves into squares.

5.  Put the cut up leaves into a bowl.  The size of your steamer will determine how much you can fit in.

I tossed the cut leaves into a bowl.

6.  Put the greens into the boiling, steaming pot. (Careful you can burn your hands from that steam!)

Yes, I steam them on my BBQ grill- It's AWESOME!!

7.  Put the lid on and let them steam.  Occasionally take the lid off and turn the veggies.  How long should I be steaming them, you ask?  Well, it depends on how many pounds of greens you’re steaming and how cooked you like your veggies.  We like them just lightly steamed.  Our pot is very large so it can take a few minutes.    The moment they turn dark I take them out.

Once they get dark I take them out.

8.  Take the veggies out and dunk them into the cold water bath.  Some people claim you need ice in the water to stop the cooking but we don’t.  I swirl them around in the water and make sure they are COLD.

Once Pistol finished rinsing the leaves she cleaned the sink and filled one side with cold water.

Don't take them out until they are cool to the touch.

9.  Now move them into the colander and start squeezing the water out of them.

10.  Last but not least bag them into portion sized freezer bags.  You don’t want to be chipping off some greens for dinner from a five lb. block of spinach.  We weigh out 10 ounces which is a perfect portion for our family of 4.

11.  Mark the date on the bag.  We will harvest from the same plant several times over the summer so I like to use the oldest first.

12.  Pop it in the freezer!

That day we picked five lbs of swiss chard from three plants and stuck it all in the freezer.

*I’ve entered this post into an Instructables contest.  If you’re an Instructables user please vote for me in the Survival Skills Challenge!   It’s easy: go to Instructables.com. On the upper right click on the ‘contest’ tab. When the new window pops up scroll down to the Survival Skills challenge and click on the ‘current entries’ link. Vote for me (Chicken Girl) ‘Fresh-n-Tasty Veggies’.  If you’re not a user it’s easy to do.  Just follow the prompts on the home page on the upper right for ‘sign up’.

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