Monday, April 13, 2009
Monday Morning Blog
Now's the time to think about canning tomatoes, drying herbs, making pesto and freezing green beans.
With a little planning, you can stretch summer's bounty through the winter. Not only will you have that great taste of summer but preserving food stretches your food dollar and gives you a sense of security in these uncertain times.
Plant what you want to preserve and in the amounts you'll need. Plan how you'll do your preserving based on the foods you family likes to eat. Preserving food doesn't have to be an ordeal of never ending work.
Determinate tomatoes, for example, are considered better for canning because you'll get a crop all at once. But if you don't have time to can a whole harvest, do a few jars here and there using indeterminate varieties of tomatoes which spread their yield over the entire season.
Green beans are another example. As you're deciding what variety to buy, check their yield. Large yields, all at once may be easier to can or freeze but beans that produce all season will give you smaller yields to deal with at one time.
Herbs give you lots of flavor for not much work. They're easy to grow and you can preserve them by drying, freezing or making flavored oils.
Some garden produce doesn't need anything other than a cool place to keep them garden fresh. Winter squash, apples, potatoes and onions can be stored in a classic root cellar but any very cool room will work just as well. Even a barrel of sand in the garage or a deep lined hole in the ground can be a mini root cellar.
Some vegetables, like carrots, can be left right in the ground and covered with mulch. Whenever you need them, it's just a matter of a trip to the garden.
When planning your garden, plan how you'll preserve your harvest, too.
Absolutely gorgeous for salads, scrambling eggs and brushing on meats before grilling. Try it on a toasted baguette then top the whole thing with sliced tomatoes from the garden. Yum! Rosemary oil is pure heaven and you'll find dozens - if not hundreds of uses for it!
Makes 1 pint
3 or 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (each about 3 inches long - washed and well dried)
2 cups olive oil (approximately)
Put rosemary into a pint canning jar or similar glass container. Pour in oil to cover. Cap jar. Refrigerate several days before using to let the flavors develop. Lasts indefinitely in the refrigerator. Do not store at room temperature.
Olive oil becomes solid in the refrigerator. Make sure the jar you use has an opening wide enough so you can scoop out the oil.
Be sure to use a glass container. Plastic is porous if you use it instead of glass (which is not porous) everything in your refrigerator will taste of rosemary.
If you have an extra "storage" refrigerator in the basement or garage (as many people do), you can make up enough rosemary oil to last you through the winter.