Posts tagged: food storage

Autumn Scenes

By , November 17, 2019

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Kitchen Tip: Freeze your extra eggs

By , January 9, 2015

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze eggs

Did you know? You can most certainly freeze eggs! I’ve never read about this handy tip but I’m sure others have done it. For the past year I’ve been freezing my extra eggs and they turn out great. I use them mostly in baking, but also for scrambled eggs or an omelet.

And let’s not think about Easter yet, but this is a great thing to do with the contents of the eggs you blow out for your Easter Egg Tree.

Here’s how I freeze them:

1. Crack egg into a small plastic container. Snap the top on and shake it until the egg is scrambled.

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze eggs

2. With the top still on, place in the freezer till frozen solid.

3. Remove from the freezer, and let the container stand on the counter till it’s melted just enough to pop the egg-disc out.

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze extra eggs

4. Place into a freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature whenever you need an egg!

(c) The Herbangardener, Freeze extra eggs

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(c) The Herbangardener, Cat sniffs eggs

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How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

By , November 4, 2011

I got a question the other day about what to do with green tomatoes… well, let me tell you!

Green tomatoes are always part of the Autumn routine for us. Once picked, most of them ripen over the coming weeks, and some years we’re still eating homegrown tomatoes past Christmas!

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Here’s how I handle all the tomatoes that we pick before the first frost hits:

1. Usually I leave the tomatoes hanging out in an uncovered cardboard box for several days or a week. This is usually because I don’t get around to addressing them, but it also allows the close-to-being-ripe ones to ripen more fully.

2. When I’m ready to deal with them, I gather a few cardboard boxes and some newspaper. I go through the tomatoes, separating ones that are showing signs of ripeness (light blushes of color or softening flesh) from the rest that are still very hard and green.

3. Put the ripening ones in their own box or paper bag, and check them every day or two. Or, leave them out on the counter.

4. I put the rest into boxes — only one layer thick — and then lay some sheets of newspaper on top. Over the years I’ve evolved through several methods of green tomato storage, and this is the one I’ve settled on. It’s my favorite because it’s the easiest, with the fewest tomatoes lost to mold.

Methods I’ve used in the past include:

– I used to cut squares of newspaper and wrap each tomato individually — unwrapping, checking, and re-wrapping them each week, and marking with highlighter the ones nearing ripeness. This is not only an insane amount of work, but it’s also totally unnecessary. There are easier ways to get the same result.

– After I evolved away from that, I would use only one box and put multiple layers of tomatoes in the box, separated by sheets of newspaper. This was a little better, but still involved removing layers of tomatoes and newspaper, checking, and re-layering.

Store the tomatoes, only one layer thick, in boxes.

Cover them with newspaper.

5. Ok, so anyway, you’ll have multiple boxes with tomatoes only one layer thick. For this reason I like to use wide, shallow boxes. The boxes can be stacked as long as they’re supported by the sides of the box below and not resting on top of the actual tomatoes.

6. Keep your boxes in the coolest place in your house. Perhaps that’s a coat closet in your foyer, or in your basement. For us, it’s in the stairwell that leads from our apartment to our outdoor side entrance.

Store the boxes in the coolest part of your house. Check your tomatoes at least weekly.

7. Check your tomatoes at least weekly. It’s as easy as peeking under the newspaper. I like to move the nearly-ripe tomatoes to the top of the newspaper so that I can watch them and grab them when they’re ready.

8. Not all the tomatoes will ripen. Some are just too small and green to hold much promise of ripening, so this year I’m going to pickle them exactly the way I pickle cucumbers, using my trusty pickle recipe.

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Do you have a good way of ripening your green tomatoes, or perhaps a good recipe that calls for green tomatoes?

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Autumn at the Homestead

By , September 27, 2011

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This could certainly be a scene from a rural farmhouse, but actually it’s right here in our own urban attic apartment!

There are pickles fermenting…12 lbs of wild grapes washed & de-stemmed & waiting to be made into jam or fruit leather…lavender drying for tea through the winter…a bubbling sourdough starter waiting to be used for whole wheat sourdough tortillas or pancakes…sage drying…and heirloom Black Russian tomato seeds drying for next year.

♥~ You don’t necessarily need a farm to have a homestead! ~♥

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Make Your Own “Green Smoothie Frozen Concentrate”

By , July 5, 2011

Green smoothie frozen concentrate made with lettuce, spinach, and lambsquarters.

So I peeked into my remaining three bags of lettuce from the garden this year, and discovered that they were starting to go south and needed to be used right away. I separated out the slimy leaves, washed the rest, and had an idea! I’ll make green smoothie frozen concentrate cubes!

To make the concentrate:

1. Pour some kefir, water, juice, or watered-down yogurt into a blender. You won’t need too much — just enough to get everything to blend together smoothly.

2. Add lots of greens. Ideas are: lettuce, spinach, beet greens, chard, lambsquarters, purslane, mint, parsley, cilantro, edible flowers, etc. (Kale is the only one I don’t like in a shake, but if you do, go for it!)

3. Start the blender and let it run until you have a uniform slurry.

4. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

To use:

When you’re ready to make a green smoothie, thaw out some cubes; I usually use 2 cubes when I make a shake for myself. Add the green liquid to your blender containing the rest of your smoothie ingredients — I like to use fruit and kefir with some ground flax seed and vanilla extract. Blend & enjoy. Yum!!

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If you’re curious about green smoothies, you might check out the book Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko, or the related website. My friend Sasha recommended this book to me, and I loved it! While I don’t agree with absolutely everything in the book, I’m glad I read it.

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How to Make Sauerruben

By , May 26, 2011

Sauerruben is made just like sauerkraut, only with rutabagas (or turnips, or a combo). It’s lovely stuff, and a nice change from kraut. It has a sweet, radish-like bite — although that will mellow out after a few weeks in the fridge. I like sauerruben a lot more than I thought I would, especially after it mellowed. Give it a try!

Ingredients:

Rutabagas (or turnips, or a combo), washed/scrubbed. I don’t bother to peel mine.

Sea salt (see my salting chart below, plus you may need more to mix up extra brine. (Any non-iodized salt will do, but unrefined sea salt is better for your body.)

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Here’s my salting chart. I usually just stick to this, but you can add a little more salt in the summer and a little less in the winter if you like.

10 tsp salt per 5 lbs vegetables

5 tsp salt per 2 ½ lbs vegetables

2 tsp salt per 1 lb vegetables

1 tsp salt per ½ lb vegetables

½ tsp salt per ¼ lb vegetables

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Shred, grate, or finely chop your rutabagas. Add the salt, and mix well.

I let this sit on the counter for several hours or overnight (this step is in place of pounding) so that the salt can begin to draw water out of the rutabagas. The water contains nutrients, and these nutrients then become the substrate for the growth of the lactic acid bacteria which is what turns your rutabagas into sauerruben. (Steinkraus, Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods, p.120.)

After some water has been drawn out, pack the rutabaga WITH its water into a glass jar. You really want to pack it in there (use your fist or any kitchen tool), because this will help squeeze more water out. You can also use a specially-made ceramic sauerkraut crock, or a glass or ceramic bowl (anything except metal, since salt and acid can react with metal).

Keep the rutabaga submerged under the brine by placing a smaller plate on top and weighing it down with something heavy (a jug of water, a boiled rock, etc.). Or, nest a smaller jar of water inside your larger glass jar.

This is kale, not sauerruben, but same idea. I particularly like this nesting-jars method for keeping everthing submerged under the brine.

Whatever method you devise, just be sure that all traces of rutabaga are completely submerged in the brine. Little bits sticking up above the water line will quickly lead to a moldy situation (and if you do end up with mold, scrape off the entire top layer, but the rest underneath should be fine!). So if you need to mix up some more brine (which is just a fancy name for salt water), use the ratio of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water.

Cover the jar with a towel to keep bugs out. Leave it to ferment at room temperature until you like the taste of your sauerruben. Let your tongue be your guide to done-ness. Taste it every few days, and transfer into the fridge when it tastes the way you like it. I like mine pretty sour, so I usually leave it out for 1-2 weeks or more, depending on how warm it is in the kitchen. If the taste is right but the ‘ruben is still too bitey, shove it to the back of the fridge for several weeks for it to mellow out.

Once in the fridge, your sauerruben will keep for many months. And when it’s all gone, don’t throw out the juice; it’s full of beneficial Lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria) and is said to be a very good digestive tonic. And if you like, add a little of the juice to your next batch of sauerruben as a starter.

Troubleshooting:

If you see a white film (“kahm yeast”) develop on the surface of the brine, scrape off what you can each day until the ‘ruben is done fermenting. Sometimes I don’t get any film. Sometimes I get a fair amount. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. The kahm yeast won’t harm anything, but if you keep getting a lot of it day after day, it can sometimes (not always) impart an off taste to the brine. Just try to scrape it off on a regular basis (daily is nice).

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It’s Been Busy at the Homestead!

By , March 10, 2011

So busy!! Since quitting my job, I am so busy!! Busy doing the life I had been putting off for all that time. My, how good that feels.

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Here are some random pictures from yesterday & today:

Inside the grain & legume cupboard in late afternoon. (I love the old fashioned jars — they’ve been in the family a long time, and they give me a homey feeling!)

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I just finished reading this inspiring book about how “the rest of the world” deals with diapers (hint: they don’t use ’em!) and how we westerners can have diaper-free babies, too. This is a must-read for new parents — or even better, before they become parents! Click here for a short synopsis of Natural Infant Hygiene (being diaper-free), written by the author of the book.

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The parsley in the kitchen window looks so pretty in the sun!

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Homemade organic applesauce ready for the freezer. I gobble this stuff up, especially when I warm it up on the stove and add cinnamon & cream!

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2 jars of freshly made chicken bone broth, cooked way down and concentrated…now ready to pop into the freezer. Also, brown rice that’s been soaked overnight and is ready to cook, and raw pumpkin seeds that were soaked overnight in salt water, and are drying. (I love to snack on them and add them to soaked oatmeal!)

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Went to the health food store yesterday (our favorite — Natural Grocers, aka Vitamin Cottage) and got some good stuff at reasonable prices. Everything’s organic except the chocolate and peanuts. Lettuce ($1.99), cilantro ($1.39), seedless tangerines ($1.79/lb on sale), Cara Cara oranges ($1.59/lb on sale), Food for Life sprouted grain tortillas ($2.65 for 6 large), raw cheddar ($3.49 on sale), peanuts ($2.33 for 1 lb), brown rice ($1.99 for 2 lbs, on sale), Kalona Supernatural whole milk ($3.69 for 1/2 gallon – to make kefir), Kalona Supernatural whipping cream ($5.79/quart), Chocolove 70% cocoa chocolate bar (the best-tasting brand and incidentally the cheapest…$1.49 on sale), and two “$1 grab-bags” — one with carrots and celery for juicing, and the other with 3 lbs of bananas at the perfect stage of ripeness to cut up and freeze for smoothies!

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Frozen banana slices for smoothies…ready to be transferred to a freezer bag:

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Then I made a delicious dessert of a sliced banana sauteed in coconut oil with a bit of maple syrup. A favorite!!

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Also made a yummy snack (called a “cheese circle” in my family when I was little!) of cheese melted over a sprouted grain tortilla, topped with Penzey’s Zatar seasoning and Smoked Spanish Paprika. Dynamite! (I make these circles in a cast iron skillet, over medium-low heat, covering the skillet with a cookie sheet until the cheese is melted, then adding seasoning. And normally, I use only 1/4 or 1/2 of a big tortilla at a time!)

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What’s been keeping you busy lately?

After Halloween: Cooking Your Pumpkin and Roasting Its Seeds

By , November 9, 2010

I hope you had a happy Halloween! Mine was uneventful, but I did go on a wonderful bike ride through the neighborhoods on Halloween night to see the decorated houses, carved pumpkins, and kids trick-or-treating. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time. To boot, it was an unusually mild night with a few diehard crickets still going (usually it’s snowing here on Halloween!), and people were sitting out on their front porches, candy bowls beside them.

Anyway, last year I cooked our Halloween pumpkin and I wanted to share the process if you’re interested in doing the same thing. One thing to note about the generic jack-o-lantern pumpkins is that they’re very lacking in flavor. Bland! And watery! But after draining out the excess water (which we’ll address below), the blandness can be a good thing because you can then sneak the pumpkin puree into your cooking (or baking) without affecting the dish’s flavor very much.

Here’s what to do:

With a sharp knife, cut your pumpkin in half, then cut off the stem.

Cut off the stem

Scoop out the seeds and SAVE THEM! We’ll be roasting them while the pumpkin cooks.

Scoop out the seeds and save them for roasting.

With a spoon and some elbow grease, scrape out the long stringy fibers. You have to really get in there with your spoon; attack that pumpkin!

Scoop out the stringy fibers

Set pumpkin cut-side down into a large baking pan with sides to contain the juice. If you don’t have a pan with sides large enough, then just bake them on cookie sheets, cut-side up. Or be creative and set them on something else, like a muffin tray to catch the juice!

Bake at 350* (or 375* — the temperature isn’t too important). You’ll bake it until the flesh is very soft, which usually takes about an hour, maybe more.

After you put your pumpkin in the oven, put the seeds into a colander. Rinse them and remove as much of the stringy orange stuff as you can.

Wash seeds & remove orange fibers

Spread them onto an un-greased cookie sheet and sprinkle them fairly liberally with salt. Bake them until they’re a very light golden color; you don’t want to over-bake them, but you do want them dry to the touch, and crunchy. This seems to take about 15 minutes for me, but the times may be different for you.

Spread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt; cook till dry and crunchy

Eat!

Now, back to the pumpkin.

When the flesh is very soft, remove from the oven and let the pumpkin cool until it’s handle-able.

Bake till very soft

Scrape out the flesh, and discard (or compost) the skin-shell. Run the pumpkin flesh through a food processor or blender to improve the texture and break up stringiness. If it’s too dry to run through the blender, add a little water and blend; you can drain the water out (or cook it off) later.

Blend till smooth, adding a little water if needed

Since these pumpkins generally have quite a bit of water in their flesh, you’ll want to drain the puree after blending it. I like to dump the pumpkin puree into a colander and let that sit over a bowl overnight. You’ll be amazed at how much water drains out! Alternatively, you can just cook the water off instead of letting it drain away; just simmer the pumpkin puree, uncovered, in a pot over low heat until you’re satisfied with its consistency.

That’s it! Measure your puree into ½- or 1-cup portions and freeze into ziploc bags; I like to stack my bags neatly on a plate and freeze them so that they freeze into stackable shapes, like this:

Measure, stack, and freeze!

Recipe Collection For A Bounty of Vegetables

By , September 21, 2010

September is always a very busy month in our kitchen as I scramble to use as much of our fresh garden produce in as many meals, smoothies, muffins, and cookies as possible! I’ve also been freezing meals made with garden produce, as well as freezing the produce itself to use in the coming winter months (so far, cooked kale as well as peach & cucumber slices for smoothies).

So I’ve put together a recipe collection (from my archive) categorized by vegetable in hopes that it might give you some fresh ideas if you’re overloaded with a particular veggie at this time of the year!

**List UPDATED on 2/3/2016**

Apples

Apple Harvest Salad

Applesauce (Homemade)

Apple Peanut Butter “Sandwiches”

Traditional Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Basil

Pesto

Zucchini Pie (Crustless)

Zucchini Parmesan

Beets

Beet Kvass

Cabbage

Minnestrone Soup

Sauerkraut

Carrots

Minnestrone Soup

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Cilantro

Citrus Salad with Macadamia Oil, Cilantro, and Avocado

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Pesto

Gazpacho

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa with Avocado)

Cucumbers

Baked Cucumbers

Homemade Bubbies Pickles (raw, lacto-fermented pickles)

Gazpacho

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Quinoa Salad, Greek Style

Cucumber Raita

Grapes

Concord Grape Freezer Jam (sugar & pectin free)

Concord Grape Fruit Leather

Grape Leaves

Pickled Grape Leaves

Zucchini Dolmas

Kale

Kale Chips

Minnestrone Soup

Parsley

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Pesto

Tabbouleh

Zucchini Dolmas

Pumpkin

(see Winter Squash, below)

Spinach

Greek Melt Pita Sandwiches

Green Smoothies

Green smoothie frozen concentrate cubes

Spanakopita

Tomatoes

Gazpacho

Israeli Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Fresh Tomato & Zucchini Chili

Greek Melt Pita Sandwiches

Minnestrone Soup

Quinoa Salad, Greek Style

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa with Avocado)

Tabbouleh

Tomato-Quinoa Soup

Zucchini Parmesan

Winter Squash/Pumpkin

Cranberry-Pumpkin Muffins

Japanese Squash and Mushroom Soup

Pumpkin Pie Fruit Leather

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Zucchini/Summer Squash

Zucchini Dolmas

Zucchini Pie (Crustless)

Fresh Tomato & Zucchini Chili

Zucchini Parmesan

Chocolate Zucchini Cookies

Zucchini Cake with Spiced Frosting

Zucchini Muffins (or Bread)

 

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