My husband, Mike and I used to be garden dabblers. Last year we wanted more homegrown produce so we started expanding our garden. Easy enough when you’ve got the space around you.
Mike: Easy for you! I put in those new gardens. It was Hard work!
Molly: OK, OK, Mike toiled all Spring to put in a whole set of lovely gardens for us in the backyard. Happy?
Mike: That’s more like it…
An unforeseen problem arose from our garden expansion. What to do with all these perishable veggies? Our main go to technique is to blanch and freeze them so that we can enjoy them in the dead of winter.
When we did this for the first time last summer I was a bit skeptical. Would they last in the freezer? How would they taste? We stored them for up to eight months and they tasted stupendous!
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Step 1: Materials Needed
Scissors (to cut the leaves)
Pot with steamer insert
Scale (If you want to be anal about it. Right Mike?)
Step 2: Prep and Collect Veggies
1. Clean your sink and fill with cold water on one side and put the colander on the other.
2. Fill your pot with a couple inches of water and put the steamer insert in. Bring water to a boil.
3. While you are waiting for the water to boil go out and pick some greens. Don’t pull up the entire plant. With kale, swiss chard and even some lettuces if you just cut off the outer large leaves and leave the smaller leaves in the center the plant will keep growing for weeks, months or even years.
Step 3: Cutting the Veggies
4. Next you clean the and cut the leaves. I like to stack the leaves and cut them into squares about 2"x2".
Step 4: Steaming Veggies
5. Put the cut up leaves into a bowl. The size of your steamer will determine how much you can fit in.
6. Put the greens into the boiling, steaming pot. (Careful you can burn your hands from that steam!)
7. Put the lid on and let them steam. Occasionally take the lid off and turn the veggies. How long should I be steaming them, you ask? Well, it depends on how many pounds of greens you’re steaming and how cooked you like your veggies. We like them just lightly steamed. Our pot is very large so it can take a few minutes. The moment they turn dark I take them out.
Step 5: Cooling Them Down
8. Take the veggies out and dunk them into the cold water bath. Some people claim you need ice in the water to stop the cooking but we don’t. I swirl them around in the water and make sure they are COLD.
9. Now move them into the colander and start squeezing the water out of them.
Step 6: Packing and Freezing
10. Last but not least bag them into portion sized freezer bags. You don’t want to be chipping off some greens for dinner from a five lb. block of spinach. We weigh out 10 ounces which is a perfect portion for our family of 4.
11. Mark the date on the bag. We will harvest from the same plant several times over the summer so I like to use the oldest first.
12. Pop it in the freezer!
That day we picked five lbs of swiss chard from three plants and stuck it all in the freezer.
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