In a perfect would garden harvest would come in easy amounts, just as you would buy the same food at the grocery store; a few tomatoes every couple of days, one zucchini a week, one eggplant, etc. Real life is not so simple and gardens are not so easy. Instead, I’ve had a surplus of zucchini and yellow squash and little else. In a couple of weeks, my tomatoes should come in and given that I have six eggplants, I’m expecting quite a few from there all at once too. I tried to stagger my planting, but I’m not sure how successful that will be.
So, what does one do when faced with ten pounds of zucchini? Eat it, of course, but only so much at one time. Give it away? Yes, we did that too. My husband even got texts from a coworker asking for more squash. But preserving the harvest is important too. Why buy canned or frozen vegetables when you can make your own?
While we might do some canning this summer, my first order of business was freezing. In fact, we recently bought a medium sized freezer for our garage. I cannot tell you how excited I was about this. Unnaturally so, I’m ashamed to say. Still, this winter when I’m pulling out jars of home made pesto, bags of fresh-frozen garden vegetables, or portions from the half a pig we’re going to buy, I won’t be so embarrassed.
Last Sunday I spent an hour or so prepping, blanching and shocking about 5 lbs of zucchini. Here’s how I did it:
10 Simple Steps to Freezing Zucchini
Rub the skin of the zucchini with a kitchen towel to remove any loose dirt and the little prickly hairs on the skin.
Cut off the stem ends and then chop the zucchini any way you think you might use it in the future. I cut it up three ways; large chunks for soups and stews (like the Moroccan garbanzo bean stew), thinner half rounds for stir frys and pastas, and diced for just as a side dish with a little melted butter.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Get a large bowl and fill it with ice and water.
Put the chopped zucchini in the boiling water in batches, separated by size or cut so that everything cooks at the same rate. Blanch in the boiling water for 1-4 minutes depending on the size.
Scoop out with a slotted spoon into the ice bath (called shocking the vegetables), until cold.
Remove from the ice bath onto paper towels to get the excess water off (you don’t want to create ice cubes).
Repeat the blanch and shock process, returning the water to a boil and replenishing the ice in the ice bath as needed.
Lay the vegetables out on a sheet pan in a single layer so they can freeze as individual pieces. I put mine on a silpat sheet so help prevent them from sticking to the pan, but it’s not necessary. If you put them in the bag or container without freezing individually, they will freeze in a solid lump. This way, you can only use what you need when you want it.
Freeze and when solid, transfer to storage bags or containers for long term storage.
Expense Update: What price the joy of a home grown vegetables? Ongoing total for Summer 2010: $340* No new purchases since last post on 6/04/10
To see the start of the accounting process and why I’m doing this, see When Does “Growing Your Own” Become Too Expensive?
*273 is for hay, alfalfa, compost and fertilizer to fill the garden beds and for this year’s building supplies, and $67 on plants.
Ongoing 2010 Harvest Total:
Yellow Squash-7.25 lbs
Green Zucchini-8 lbs
Japanese Cucumbers- 11 oz
Tomatoes- 8 oz
Assorted herbs-small amounts of Mint, Oregano, Basil, Cilantro, Tarragon, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…