Category Archives: Preserving the Harvest

Blanching & Freezing Overgrown Zucchini

Somehow I carelessly missed about a half dozen overgrown zucchini. Since it is early in the season and the weather is still wet, I hoped that they would not be seedy and that I could freeze them. Yes, that is how it worked out.

I had put black several gallon nursery buckets sideways under the enormous zucchini plants that are spreading over the sides of my raised beds.  These zucchini were hard to tell apart from the black pots in the shadows under the leaves.  By the time I realized they were zucchinis, they were overgrown.  It happened during a week of overcast, wet weather.
overgrown zucchini

Since this is early in the season and these are some of the first zucchinis, I had real hope that they would not be seedy.  Later in the season, especially when the drought sets in, these would have been inedible.  These slices are all ok with very immature, soft seeds.
overgrown zucchini that is not overgrown

Only one zucchini was partially seedy, and then only at the base bulb.

overgrown zucchini

Zucchini are diced up in preparation of blanching and freezing.
diced zucchini ready to be blanched

Since the zucchini dices seemed to want to float, I had a round cooling rack that fit exactly in the dutch oven that I used to blanch the dices.  I put the dices in  boiling water and kept them there for 2 to 3 minutes.  I then scooped them out and put them in icy water to quickly cool them.

Since I can’t make that many ice cubes and a trip into town is out of the question, I used about 10 sandwich zipper bags, filling them full of water and then freezing them.  While I don’t have extra ice cube trays, or places to level them in the freezer, I could stick those water filled zipper baggies all over the freezer.  Before using, I put them on a wood cutting board (so I didn’t crack the poly ones) and used an ice pick to chop up the ice.  Worked wonderfully.

use cooling rack to hold down zucchini during blanching

After taking one load out of the hot water, I brought it to a boil again before dumping the next batch of zucchini in it.  I did about 3 batches.  The result is these 11 bags of blanched zucchini.  Each bag is about a pint.
finished zucchini blanched packed in bags

Really glad I could save these overgrown zucchinis.  I need to monitor the plants better.

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Garden Salsa

Isn’t this pretty – the beginnings of garden salsa.

garden salsa

The problem is that, thanks to Dow Agriscience’s total lack of stewardship and concern for home gardeners.  The peppers are mostly store bought – thanks to Dow, very, very few of my peppers survived long enough to produce a single pepper.  Also thanks to Dow, the tomatoes are not going to be garden tomatoes because Dow’s wonderful herbicide destroyed my tomatoes before they had a chance.  Add to the financial loss that Dow has caused me, I have to purchase new heirloom pepper seeds because all of my plants are defective.

I am going to have to put Dow in the same category as evil Monsanto.

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Chard, Chard, Chard – What To DoWith All This Chard

Time is running out on this chard.  It will probably still be good for another month or so until it gets too hot.  I have been drying 2 batches of chard a day for the past few weeks.  When I cut out the thick stems, it only takes about 2 to 2 and a half hours at lowest temperature – about 105 to 110 degrees – to dry the leaves.

garden chard

This bed of chard was planted last fall and lived under a plastic greenhouse covering – the gray supports can still be seen (they have since been removed and put up for the summer).  I am now carefully harvesting leaves because I am selecting certain plants to let go to seed.  I am selecting plants that have giant, wrinkled leaves – the kink that I like.

What a beautiful, giant, wrinkly leaf! These leaves all came from a batch of Luculus Chard seeds.

giant chard leaf

These giant chard leaves are a bit less wrinkled, but still have nice, thick leaves.
closeup of giant chard leaves

I also planted this red stemmed chard, Ruby Red, an heirloom variety. Only 2 plants survived and grew to large plants – possibly because these were 2009 seeds. This variety also has nice wrinkled leaves. I can’t, however, let both varieties go to seed because they will cross and I will have an inbred mess.  Both of these varieties are heirloom.

red stem chard

A few posts back I posted pictures of the food dryer and drying kale.  I will be posting of the dryer full of chard as soon as I get the pics uploaded.  I can crunch up 2 dryer loads and stuff them into one wide mouth quart canning jar.

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Drying Kale

I grew 2 varieties of Kale, Blue Curled Scotch Kale and Dwarf Blue Curled Vates Strain.

Blue Curled Scotch kale has larger, softer leaves and dried in a few hours with the dehydrator set between 105 and 110 degrees.  You can see the leaves on the dryer shelf.  The stems, however, do NOT dry.  The stems remained soft and moist,   so I crumbled the dry leaves off of the stems.  The few thin stems that dried were stiff like thin toothpicks – I don’t really want that stuff in my kale leaves.  You can see the stripped leaf stems on top of the dryer.

blue curled scotch kale

This mason jar is holding about 3 dryer loads of crumbled kale leaves.  Those leaves really dry to nothing.  Dried kale is very good in soups and other dishes that some dried green pieces look good in.

dried kale

I tried to dry some of the Dwarf Blue Curled Vates kale, however it just doesn’t seem to dry in a few hours.  In fact, none of the leaves every fully dired.  Most of it ended up in the compost.  Stay with Scotch Kale if you want to dry it.

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