How to enjoy your CSA share all year round…Freeze, Can, Dehydrate, Root Cellar, Ferment!

The below bits and pieces of info were all included on a handout we made for the Putting Food By evening at the First Universalist church.  It was a great evening, and no question that the highlight was the presentation by Emily and Adam Rawn on fermenting… now we can’t wait for the first cabbage to be ready!
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The best bags for freezing, according to Consumer Reports (and us): 
Glad brand Freezer Bags.  They may be blue, but they keep odors out and liquids in better than any other!
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Months to generally expect the veggies that we freeze or can, and how we
usually put them by:

 Kale— June–October (steam blanche ~ 2 min.& freeze)
Swiss Chard—June-October (steam blanche ~2 min. & freeze)
Spinach—JuneOctober (steam blanche ~ 2 min. & freeze)
Broccoli—July & October (steam blanche ~ 5 min. & freeze)
Green Beans—July & August (can Dilly Beans—recipe p.303 in Putting Food By, or steam blanche ~3 min. & freeze)
Collards—June-October (steam blanche ~3 min. & freeze)
Corn– September (boil blanche ~4 min., cut off cob, & freeze)
Peppers– July-Oct (freeze— no blanching)
 Winter Squash–October (when start to go bad… roast & freeze)
 Summer Squash– July-September (shred, salt, squeeze out water, & freeze)Tomatoes—August-October (cherry—cut into thirds and dehydrate; big—blanche, skin, bring to boil, & can, though freezing works too!)
Basil—August & September (dehydrate, or make into pesto w/o cheese and freeze)Reference Putting Food Buy or http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/ for more detailed blanching times, etc.

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Raspberries, Rhubarb, & all herbs (tarragon, thyme, rosemary, lovage, sage, oregano, basil, & chives) will be available as season and quantities permit as pick-your-own at the farm.
All herbs can be laid out on a cookie sheet, frozen, and bagged for use later on in the season. 

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When you’re not lucky enough to have a root cellar…

· Carrots— rinse off and store them slightly damp in an airtight plastic bag at the back of your fridge.  They should last all the way to spring with minimal sprouting.

· Garlic, Onions & Shallots — keep them in as dark and cool a place as you have available, and then as soon as you start to feel a few getting soft, bag them up and put them in the fridge, too…  they should last till summer

· Winter Squash—keep them in as dark and cool a place as you have available, and when you start to see bad spots cut them in half, roast, and then scoop the soft flesh into freezer bags and freeze.

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If you ever want more of a certain veggie to do a large freezing or canning batch, let us know and if we have enough we can sell it to you at the wholesale price!
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Our favorite resources:

· The Bible of home preservation (the book we always reference first when we have questions, for pickling recipes, or for anything else):  Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughn

· Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel

· National Center for Home Preservation website:  http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

· Maine Cooperative Extension publications on the web: 

                      http://extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu/

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For fermenting and more, Emily and Adam Rawn recommend:

· Keeping Food Fresh:  old world techniques and recipes by The Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante

· Wild Fermentation:  The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft oif Live-Cultured Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz

· Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

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The easy, quick Greens-Freezing routine (this works for spinach, kale, collards, & swiss chard.  It’s the same basic routine for other veggies that we freeze, too, but blanching times may be different and we always check Putting Food By or online for blanching times first):

· Put a pot of water (with a colander or steamer and top that fits) on to boil

· Rinse the greens, then de-stem if they have large stems (kale, chard & collards)

· Coarsely chop the greens

· Once the water is at a rolling boil, steam blanche the greens, covered, until they are uniformly bright green (don’t over pack the steamer because the greens will then get matted and not steam blanche uniformly) – aprox 2-3 min.

· Rinse the greens under cold water to stop the cooking process

· Spin the greens as dry as possible in a salad spinner, or roll them dry in a dishtowel

· Put them into a bag, close the bag nearly all the way, suck the remaining air out of the bag, and seal.

· Label the bag and stick it in the freezer to enjoy next winter!

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Other fruits and veggies that we often can or freeze (but that aren’t usually provided in the CSA share):

· Apples.  We find apples trees around the neighborhood and pick the ugly and sour apples that no one wants to eat.  We steam them till soft, put them through a food mill or ‘Squeezo,’ bring back to a boil with sugar and spices, and then can the applesauce.  We also dry apple and pear slices in the dehydrator.

· Pickling Cucumbers.  We don’t often do pickling cukes any more (Dilly Beans are just as delicious and easier), but Putting Food By has great recipes.  And at the farm we have grape plants if you want to try and use grape leaves to make your pickles crisp!

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