For the last week or so we have had HUGE takes from the garden every day. While this is exciting, it’s also a tad overwhelming. I finally had the feeling of, “Oh, geez… How are we ever going to eat all this food?”
The baby shower was great timing last weekend because I was able to use plenty of produce from the garden. I made a big salad with the mixed greens and just had different toppings and dressings so people could make it their own. I also prepared this great cucumber salad we have already made multiple times this summer. It’s really simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. That’s always a win for me.
Another recipe that we made for the party is also a go to in the summer is this sautéed zucchini side dish. We have been making this recipe for two years now; I pretty much know it by heart. The flavors go together so well and compliment any meal.
… Sorry no awesome iPhone picture. But, there is one at this link to the recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Garden-Zucchini—Corn-Saute
Thanks to the bounty of produce accumulating on my counter top, I decided it was time to do some freezing. Freezing is a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables and is much simpler than canning. Frozen veggies are good for about twelve months.
Or, so I read.
I, of course, had never done this before, but it really didn’t seem too bad.
I started with snap beans because ours were towering and full of peas. I have been picking them for about two weeks. They make great additions to salads and even serve as a great snack with some hummus or without. The flavor of these peas has been incredible.
After work I spent about thirty minutes picking as many of the larger beans that I could find (…in the massive heat wave that is hitting the Midwest currently) I headed in to get to work in the kitchen.
I cleaned and snipped the end of the beans with a knife.
Next, I got everything set up to blanch the beans.
Blanching is when you heat up veggies and then quickly cool them to lock in flavor and nutrients. I actually had not blanched anything since lab courses in college, but it is, fortunately, really easy.
I set a pot on the stove top to bring to a boil, a big bowl full of ice and cold water, and a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. The beans were put in boiling water for two minutes. I then lifted them with a large straining spoon and dunked them into the ice water.
The instant they hit the water they turned a bight, beautiful green, just like I remembered would happen from that early morning lab. The beans were in the ice water for two minutes as well. I then strained them out and placed them on the cookie sheets. The paper towels quickly absorbed their moisture.
I repeated the process until my many snap beans were blanched and drying on the cookie sheets. I took another paper towel and pressed it on top of them to pick up any remaining water.
Next, you can put them directly into a ziplock bag to freeze or you can freeze them on the cookie sheets, then put them in ziplock bags after they had frozen. I choose the put them in the freezer on cookie sheets because it will prevent the beans from freezing stuck together.
I am so looking forward to using a handful of these summer beans throughout the winter in side dishes or stir fry’s.
Next, it was onto the zucchini. I thought I was in the clear with zucchini after the shower. I had sliced the nine zucchini’s I had in my kitchen to serve the crowd. After all that I was certain I wouldn’t have to worry about zucchini for little while.
Today- two days later- there were already six on my counter top.
You can blanch sliced or diced zucchini and it is great for stews and casseroles, but my poor little refrigerator ice maker needed to play catch up after the ice bath for all the snap beans. Maybe some other day.
Instead, I grated two zucchini’s and portioned them into ½ cup servings.
I wrapped each portion in saran wrap, put them into a zip lock bag, and placed them in the freezer. (Helpful Tip: Be sure to date and label whatever you freeze. This will help you out nine months from now when you cannot remember what you did today!)
This grated zucchini will be great for all sorts of baked goods, like zucchini cakes or muffins. I put them in half cup portions to make it easy to add to any batter. I was able to get eight cups out of two zucchini’s.
All in all, not bad and it really didn’t take too long. Now I can combat that feeling of panic that we will never be able to eat everything by knowing we will be eating from this garden all year long.
I already cannot wait to use these frozen items on a day in December, when I am feeling frozen myself, and remember how HOT it was today.