Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tip from Mom #30: Curing Root Vegetables



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Freezing Fresh Green Beans

Skill Level: Beginnger
Skills Attained: Freezing Vegetables
Supplies:
  • Fresh Green Beans
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Large Pot with Lid
  • Water
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Ice
  • Large Bowl
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Freezer Bag
Green beans are a staple crop in my garden each year. They grow fairly easily, and everyone in my house likes to eat them. Although I don't plant an over-abudance of beans, I seem to grow more than we can eat when they are fresh. So, I like to find ways to enjoy these vegetables outside of their garden fresh season. You can certainly can green beans, but I enjoy frozen green beans more (frozen beans seem to be more crisp when cooked than canned beans, in my opinion). Here are step-by-step instructions on how to freeze fresh green beans.

After picking the beans, cut off the ends and cut into the desired length. 



Parboil the green beans for approximately 2 - 3 minutes in boiling water. (Parboil is a cooking method that simply means to cook part way in boiling water.)

Immediately after boiling, use a slotted spoon and place the beans in an ice water bath. (This step stops the beans from continuing to cook. You don't want the beans to overcook; they will get rubbery if overcooked at this step.)


After the vegetables have cooled in the water bath, drain the beans and place them on a single-layer on a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen (a few hours up to 12 hours). (This steps prevents the beans from freezing into one big ice block.)

Remove the frozen green beans from the cookie sheet and place in freezer bag. Store in the freezer until ready to use (up to 6 months). 








To cook, steam the green beans until they reach their desired tenderness (5 - 8 minutes). 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Garden Update

As summer comes to an end, I want to post an update on our garden. Overall, I am thrilled with this year's crops! I feel like last summer was a total bust, so I'm glad we had better success this year. 

Watermelon


I'll start with our biggest success: watermelon. This is only our second year growing melons, and last year, we yielded two watermelons. This year we have already picked 4 melons and hope to have two more! Strangely enough, I'm not sick of watermelon. My kids have thoroughly enjoyed eating slice after slice, but I've also made watermelon sorbet (delicious) and a watermelon juice drink with mint and jalapeno (equally delicious). I can say with assurance we will be trying our hand at watermelons again next year. 


Tomatoes


I wasn't sure how my tomatoes would do out of the gate. My little seedlings were slow to start, but they really finished strong. I've made Roasted Tomato-Chipotle Salsa a couple times, and I hope to make my first batch of pizza sauce soon. Stay tuned! 

Peppers




Our pepper plants have almost been a complete bust. We have two jalapeno plants that managed to survive, but our bell pepper plants totally flopped.  I've never had issue with growing peppers before, so I was a bit surprised. I don't think my seedlings were strong enough when I planted them outside. I plan on making some jalapeno poppers sometime this week with the few hot peppers that managed to survive. 




Pumpkins


This is the third or fourth year in a row we've tried growing squash of any kind, and again, it's been a failure. This year, we grew pumpkins. The plants started out strong and then all-of-a-sudden started dying on us. We had a few gourds growing, but they've since shriveled up and died. So sad; my son is a bit devastated. I'm sure some type of bug got to the plant, and I don't think we have the best soil to grow squash. 


More to Come...


We haven't harvested our sweet potatoes yet; we'll probably do that in the next couple weeks. 

We also had really good success with green beans this year! Next week, I'll show you how freeze green beans to enjoy throughout the year. Stay tuned!


Have you ever had success in growing pumpkins? 
Any secrets you'd like to share?