Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bountiful Preserving




Food preservation is time consuming, there's no mistake about that.  It definitely takes more time to whip up a batch of spaghetti sauce and can it than the car trip to get a can from the grocery store.  The time alone can deter many, in fact I'm kind of dreading the time I'll be spending in the kitchen processing 20 lbs of tomatoes in a few weeks.  However, there are things you can do that can insure great, cheap food for your family with a little less time and effort:  Dried Tomatoes and Frozen Zucchini (or any kind of Summer Squash).

Most people with a garden, or who know a person with a garden know that this is the time of year when people start leaving bags of zucchini and tomatoes on their neighbors doorsteps in the middle of the night.  Luckily these are some of the easiest items to preserve in a hurry!  In fact I can do the bulk of the prep work of each of these during nap time!

Oven Dried Tomatoes are a cinch:

 {used only the cherries and romas in the picture}

 {Cut, seeded and ready to go into the oven}

 {Romas are just about done, cherry tomatoes need another hour or two}

 {Finished product!}
  1. Wash and Dry your Tomatoes.  I used some Romas from my garden and some left over yellow cherry tomatoes that weren't going to get eaten fast enough.
  2. Cut Tomatoes - Small Tomatoes can just be cut in half and set on the baking sheets.  Romas are best de-seeded and cut into strips.  Places the tomato pieces on cookie/baking sheets.
  3. Preheat the oven to a low setting.  I used 170 degrees, the lowest my oven goes.  Leave the tomatoes in until leathery or until most moisture from the un-seeded tomatoes is gone; about 5 hours.  *I like to turn off the oven when the tomatoes are just about perfect and let the finish drying as the oven cools.
  4. Put tomatoes in an air tight container and enjoy when you need want them!  If  you don't use them on a regular basis try to remember to give the jar a shake every now and then to even out the remaining moisture.

Frozen Zucchini or Summer Squash:

 
{2 to be cubed, 1 to be shredded}

Shredded Zucchini: great for winter zucchini bread.
  1. Wash and Dry Zucchini.
  2. Remove ends.
  3. Using a regular cheese grater shred zucchini just like you would a block of cheese.
  4. Shredded zucchini can be put in freezer bags (remove as much air as you can) and put directly into the freezer.
*Tip: close the zippered freezer bag to the point that you can insert a straw and nothing else.  Squeeze as much air out as you can and then suck the remaining air out thru the straw and then seal shut quickly.*

Frozen Zucchini Chunks:

 {Cut and ready to be boiled; two of my summer squash filled this 2.5 quart bowl}
  1. Wash and Dry Zucchini.
  2. Cut into slices and then into chunks.
  3. Boil water
  4. Place zucchini into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes (start timing immediately)
  5. Remove and drain.
  6. Place boiled zucchini into a bowl of ice water for approx. 5 minutes.  If water turns warm continue added cold water or ice until water stops heating.
  7. Drain water, pat dry.
  8. Either place chunks on a baking sheet to freeze individually or place into air tight freezer bag.
  9. If using baking sheet method put the sheets in the freezer over night and then transfer frozen zucchini to air tight freezer bag.
 
 {Frozen squash right out of the freezer and ready to be bagged}

And there you go; three ways to preserve two of the most bountiful veggies in your garden!
 
P.S. Other bountiful garden items that preserve quickly - Sweet Corn, Blueberries, Red and Green Peppers - you can just wash, cut and freezer the berries and peppers; process the corn like you're making corn on the cob, cut from the cob after cooled and put into freezer jars!

Shared @ Homestead Revival

Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

And The Little House in the Suburbs Link Up!


7 comments:

  1. How long do the dried tomatoes stay good for? We tried that two years ago and weren't sure how to package them - we put them in oil and it just looked gross.

    Also, I've been wondering if there's some sort of way to make lacto-fermented spaghetti sauce? That seems like it would be a lot easier than canning, which I still have not quite mustered up the courage (or supplies) for!

    Oh, and we usually just use a food processor to shred zucchini to freeze. I'm not sure if it saves that much time, but thought I'd throw it out there for what it's worth.

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    1. From my research dried tomatoes w/out oil in a cool dark place could last longer than 6 months. If you tend to keep them on the counter like I do they'll probably keep their flavor for 6 months and then start to lose the flavor, but possibly still keep after that.

      I'm definitely scaling back the canning this year, as much as I want to have pantry stocked full of canned goodies I know how to cook more things from frozen or dried fruits and veggies and I want to make sure it gets used!

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  3. Great ideas! I also dry my zucchini in chunks in my dehydrator and use in minestrone soups in the winter. I find that I use them more than if frozen. They actually taste great right out of the jar! I have my freezer stocked already with shredded zucchini...I let it drain overnight in the fridge so there isn't as much moisture when you go to cook with it. Thanks for posting about zucchini! Any ideas for preserving summer squash?
    www.livininthegreen.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. If you will sprinkle a little salt on your shredded zucchini, it'll pull most of the water out of them within an hour or so.

      I have dehydrated my yellow squash & zucchini by slicing them with my food processor slice blade, then dehydrating them. When they're ready for storage, you just pop em in a jar. They're really tasty as a snack as well.

      Then when you wish to rehydrate them, they can be reconstituted to almost fresh like consistency. They dont plump out fully, but they're firm enough that you can make fried zucchini or yellow squash.

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  4. I use up my frozen shredded zucchini throughout the year whenever I cook ground beef - it stretches the beef and adds a bit more fibre and veg to meatloafs, chilis, spaghetti sauce, etc.

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  5. I just bookmarked this for future use and sent a link to my mother. We just started canning and preserving this year and have had some difficulty finding time to master anything other than fruit and jam. My mom wants to expand her garden to include more veggies but was hesitant since she would never eat it all before it spoiled. This is a great tutorial!

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