Monday, August 12, 2013

A summer full of food preservation

I can't believe August is almost half-way over.  Where has the summer gone?

All along the way I've been preserving food every weekend, working mostly on Sundays.  Freezing, drying and fermenting are my modes of transportation thus far.  September seems to be the "canning month".  It'll come, and too soon if you ask me.

We've had a bumper crop of broccoli this year for the first time ever.  Blaine finally found a variety that actually produces.  Interestingly, while the heads are huge, it is a major sacrifice on taste.  It tastes like normal, grocery store broccoli.  So . . . fairly boring.  The thumb-sized broccoli (no joke) that we have been used to growing, while small, packs a punch on flavor.  They're spicy and significantly more tasty.

In the past we've grown 50-ish plants just to get a reasonable amount to eat along the way.  Definitely not enough to put up.  But this year, think 50 plants of store-sized broccoli and you'll get the picture.  Inundation!  We've been eating as much as we can, giving it away, loading the freezer with bags and bags of it, etc.

Now that I think of it, I'm also dehydrating the chopped stems for vegetable soup this winter with "waste not, want not" as my mantra.  Besides, I like the stems.

* * * * * * * * 

This weekend I busted out all seven Pickl-Its -- the Bundle of Five and the Condiment Duo.  Oh yeah, baby.  I worked on the onions this weekend.  On-ions.  I'm drooling.  So tasty.  And they are just so beautiful.  Blaine pulled all of them last week, then sorted out the little fellas for fermenting.

 Pickled pearl onions --
with thyme, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, 
mustard seed, juniper berries, and cloves
I know.  Rockin'.

 Sliced onions for sandwiches and salads --
with celery seed in the little guy and nothing in the big'un.

And then there are the pickles.  Classic crock pickles.  Kosher pickles.  Pickle barrel pickles.  Sour pickles.  Whatever you want to call them.  I just say, "DELICIOUS".  We have always seemed to let our cucumbers get away from us every year, but after the solo batch of pickles I made last year, the ones we devoured with great satisfied squawks and howls this winter, we decided to get serious this year.

Blaine has been closely monitoring the cucumbers this season, picking them at just the right size, then bringing them in and storing them in the refrige for my mini-blitz over the weekend.  After a week of counter-top fermentation magic, we've got the beginnings of something gorgeous.

 Pickkkkkkles --
with cardomom, peppercorns, celery seed,
bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, dill heads, and garlic.
The grape leaves are to keep them crunchy with natural tannins and
the water is murky because I used some of the leftover liquid from last week's batch.

This was last week's batch --
I decanted them into half-gallon jars and
brought them down into the root cellar for a nice, slow ferment.
They'll be ready this winter (and already smelled sooooo good).

The ground I've covered this summer includes --
  • Dried celery
  • Dried broccoli stems/stalks
  • Dried peas
  • Dried green beans
  • Frozen parsley & cilantro "herbcicles"
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Frozen chard
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen collards
  • Frozen rhubarb (for Blaine's wine)
  • Fermented kimchi
  • Fermented dill pickles
  • Fermented pearl onions
  • Fermented onion slices

Food preservation notes.

Not bad for a mother of four with a new baby.  Though let's keep it real: I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without my fella.  Blaine.  He is always such a huge help: slinging baby, hanging with the boys, dealing with conflicts, covering snacks, fetching ingredients, transporting jars up and down, picking the produce, heck - GROWING the produce, and this year, he's even helped in the kitchen.  What a man.

Today marks 13 years of marriage, giving us a total of almost 17 years of back-history together.  I couldn't be happier.  And it just keeps on getting better.

1 comment:

Eric said...

aww Blaine! 13 years. :) Yeah for canning and loving the babe. Always good to hear an update.