Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taming is Shrewd

From the fully processed bean of Green Bean.



All spring and summer, I've been a growing fool.  Growing peas and tomatoes, crookneck squash and sunflowers.  Caring for my fruit trees - apple, Asian pear, plum and fig.  And now, all of my work has come to fruition - literally.

I fill gallon-sized buckets of tomatoes several times a week.  I paid the kids to pick the apples and nearly went bankrupt.  And the crookneck squash have continued their summer onslaught.

But I grew all this stuff for a reason.  And I'll be darned if I'm going to let it go to waste.  Any recipe that looks like it could contain the abundance of my garden is fair game.  Here are my favorite ways to tame my harvest:

APPLES:

My family gobbles up these easy and delicious Apple Bars

An experiment with the slow cooker turned out well when we made this simple, apple-consuming Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler.

Apple Rings dehydrated while covered with cinnamon-sugar are great for snacking and lunchboxes.  A not-too-sweet treat.

Apple Sauce and apple sauce turned into Apple Fruit Leather (in the dehydrator) are stand-bys.  I don't make a lot of these because my family isn't big on the apple sauce thing but it does make a nice dent in the apple bushel.

All Day Apple Butter never fails, cans well and is usually my go to end-of-the-season, stop the apple show recipe.  Besides, these make wonderful holiday gifts come December.

ZUCCHINI AND SUMMER SQUASH:

We've all heard the jokes.  Monstrous zucchini left on neighbor's porches.  Locked doors to prevent bags of friend's squash being stuff inside.  But keeping up with the abundance of summer squash is serious and tasty business.  

Summer squash finds its way into every Pasta Dish we make in the summer.  Thickly chopped and sauteed with fresh tomatoes and basil, shredded and mixed with sauce in lasagna, and pulverized in the canned tomato sauce so that kids won't realize it is squash in January.

I mix shredded squash in with vegetarian taco meat on Taco Night and with beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic and oregano for Quesadillas.  Here was the inspiration for the latter.  Squash is just as easily added to Indian Curry recipes as well (see below).

Dehydrating squash slices is a great way to preserve them for soups and stews later - or have your kids eat them out of the jar.

Of course, Zucchini Bread and Zucchini Spice Cake are stand-bys but the waist line can only take so much.

I keep meaning to try Zucchini Fritters or Zucchini Noodles and then there are the wonderful lists of 101 Ways to Use Up Your Zucchini circulating around the Internet.  I swear I'll work my way through all of them sooner or later - if my harvest luck holds.

TOMATOES:

Salsa is what fresh tomatoes were made for!  I don't have a recipe - just toss some cilantro, peppers, sugar, vinegar, and pepper - oh, and tomatoes in a food processor and give it a whirl.  Adjust to taste.

Pasta Sauce is a dead giveaway.  I like tossing whole cherry tomatoes in with some peppers, garlic and, you guessed it, squash.  Put some basil in at the end.  Alternatively, I cook down 20 lbs of tomatoes, 4 carrots, 2 onions, 3 Tablespoons sugar, 3 teaspoons salt for an hour and then puree and freeze.  And yes, I can hide squash in that recipe as well!

Indian Curry is awesome because it can soak up tomatoes (they say three, I say ten!) and you can sneak in at least a cup or two of shredded summer squash.  I toss the latter in with the tomatoes.

Boother Green Mom in the Burbs swears by roasting them and Boother Going Green Mama shared an awesome fresh tomato soup recipe.

Tomatoes can also be canned, frozen in half on a cookie sheet (apparently skins come right off after you thaw), dehydrated and sun-dried.  Thanks to those of you who shared your ideas for preserving tomatoes on the Green Phone Booth Facebook page!  There is nothing, and I do mean nothing better than enjoying tomatoes on a cold February day.

That is how I've been spending my August and, if luck holds, my September.  How have you tamed your harvest?

5 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Green beans : done. We don't like frozen green beans and I don't can them. Eat massive amounts when fresh, freeze pint bags to add to vegetable soup in the coming months.

Asparagus: done. Eat fresh. I save all the woody tips, blanch and freeze bags to use for cream of asparagus soup. Once it is cooked and blended who can tell what part of the stalk it was.

Tomatoes: in progress. Getting buckets a day now. Will start saucing this weekend for canning. Up to this point have been eating, making spaghetti sauce and fresh salsa. Tomatoes are my main garden item and if could only grow one thing, that would be it.

Herbs: Basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, dill, chives. Dry them.

Corn: buy that from farm...freeze enough for the rest of year. Sweet corn season fleeting, so do 3-4 dozen ears a night. Blanch, cool and cut, pack into pint freezer bags of 16oz each.

Cucumbers: I buy cukes for my pickles so can get enough. Do dill and bread and butter and sweet. The cucumbers I grow are eaten as brought in and used to make pickle relish. I can't depend on husband picking cucumbers small enough for my pickles.

Carrots: eat lots, dice and freeze in 1/2 pint bags for adding to chili, soups etc. Usually make several carrot cakes...never hear anyone complain about that.

Beets: cook, slice and freeze for making borscht. Can pickled beets.

Onions: let dry about 1/2 of them. Dice and pack into 1 cup bags for the rest.

Elizabeth said...

to continue....

Oh the onions go in the freezer.

Zucchini: Usually gets too big. Husband does not like picking the vegetables...I warn him the bigger it gets the more we have to deal with. I grate, press, and freez it in 1 and 2 cup packs for adding to soups, chili, breads etc. We eat it in almost every recipe for month or two while fresh. I give away a lot. Always have a couple iin back seat of my car because you never know when someone wishes they had a zucchini. Well I can provide. Son of a friend rode off on his bike with 3 of them a few days ago after I ran into him at the library.

Winter squash and pumpkin: Cook and package into 1 and 2 cup containers and freeze. Also, can store many of them fresh for use in later fall.

I think that is it. I buy my fruit for freezing and for jam from a farmer. Except for a friend who gives me enough grapes for several batches of jelly. We lost our 2 apple trees in a wind storm so I get a bushel of those from a friend's tree. Make applesauce.

Almost forgot rhubarb. Slice and freeze that in quart bags , got 15 quarts from this last season. I make a lot of pies. I always estimate I need 12 qts each of blueberries , cherries, and rhubarb plus extra for other recipes.

Just grow the basics.

Elizabeth said...

to continue....

Oh the onions go in the freezer.

Zucchini: Usually gets too big. Husband does not like picking the vegetables...I warn him the bigger it gets the more we have to deal with. I grate, press, and freez it in 1 and 2 cup packs for adding to soups, chili, breads etc. We eat it in almost every recipe for month or two while fresh. I give away a lot. Always have a couple iin back seat of my car because you never know when someone wishes they had a zucchini. Well I can provide. Son of a friend rode off on his bike with 3 of them a few days ago after I ran into him at the library.

Winter squash and pumpkin: Cook and package into 1 and 2 cup containers and freeze. Also, can store many of them fresh for use in later fall.

I think that is it. I buy my fruit for freezing and for jam from a farmer. Except for a friend who gives me enough grapes for several batches of jelly. We lost our 2 apple trees in a wind storm so I get a bushel of those from a friend's tree. Make applesauce.

Almost forgot rhubarb. Slice and freeze that in quart bags , got 15 quarts from this last season. I make a lot of pies. I always estimate I need 12 qts each of blueberries , cherries, and rhubarb plus extra for other recipes.

Just grow the basics.

robbie @ going green mama said...

How do you make the fruit leather??>

Green Bean said...

@Elizabeth - Wow!! You are making me feel downright lazy. :) So you make the sauce ahead of time and then can it later? Maybe that is my problem. I try to do it all the same day.

@Robbie - I just spread the apple sauce over a special tray in the dehydrator - though I suppose you could also do it on a cookie sheet in the oven. I make one and it disappeared the first day. My kids love homemade fruit leather!

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