Saturday, January 25, 2014

Out of the Root Cellar, Into the Freezer

More notes on last season's garden harvests . . .  in the freezer.

Broccoli - I have trouble growing broccoli.  Or I should say, I have trouble growing broccoli without worms.  This past year I protected all the broccoli plants from the dreaded white cabbage moths (who have the audacity to lay their eggs from which the worms hatch in my broccoli) by covering them with our newly constructed screen cages.

How'd that work?  Well, upon soaking the freshly harvested broccoli heads in warm, salt water (to kill any worms), I'm sad to say I found the broccoli was not worm-free.  But only a few worms were sent to their demise as they floated out compared to many, many of them in years past.  So the screen cages did help.  Somewhat.  I think.

We ate a lot of fresh broccoli right from the garden, but only enough for 12 meals made it to the freezer for winter consumption.  No matter what I try, frozen broccoli lacks that crisp crunchiness I get when cooking fresh, non-frozen broccoli.  But the frozen broccoli makes excellent Cream of Broccoli soup so that's most likely where the remaining packages will go.

Brussels Sprouts - These were grown under screen cages also.  Nary one worm was found.  (Hurray!)  We ate many (we both love Brussels sprouts) as they matured during the late summer/early fall.  Five servings (a serving being enough for the two of us for one meal) made it to the freezer.  They are long gone.  I had 16 plants in the garden.  Is this an inefficient vegetable for me to raise, or am I doing something wrong?

Peas - I put up 42 servings of shell peas.  We love 'em and eat several servings a week.  They are the first preserved vegetable we run out of.  There are still some in the freezer, but I'm not going to check to see how many because then I'll be sad there are so few left.

Beans - Oh, my.  I really overdid it on the beans this year.  I usually plant one 16' row of green beans and one 16' row of yellow beans.  That gives us an ample supply for the year.  This year my first plantings did not germinate well at all.  So I panicked, went crazy and planted beans in every spare piece of garden soil I could find.  I ended up with waaay too many beans.  Even after giving a lot away.  Naturally, I couldn't waste any so I put them up.  I mix the green and yellow beans together (for pretty on the plate) and ended up with 75 servings.  We will have enough beans until the 2014 crop comes in.  I'm sure.

Green Peppers - I made 34 servings of Stuffed Green Peppers.  We have them about once a week and I've served them a couple of times as a company meal.  We have plenty left.  I also put about 2 quarts of chopped green peppers in the freezer to use in cooking over this winter.

Chives - I prepped and froze 11 one-cup size containers of chives.  I love them and use them all winter long.  With luck, I shouldn't run out before the chives pop up this spring.

Blueberries - Will we ever have enough blueberries?  We are already down to the last three gallon bags of them.  (Plus, adequate jars of jam on the pantry shelves.)

Raspberries - Can you have too many raspberries?  In our case, the answer is yes.  Today I counted 7 gallon bags of them still languishing in the freezer.  That is probably more than we can use before the next crop comes in.  I made jam and concentrate, but still ended up with too many in the freezer.  If this coming season is good, I may sell some of the fresh berries to our local co-op.

Strawberries - I still have 8 quarts of frozen smooshed strawberries.  These were intended to be used in smoothies.  However, this winter has been so cold we find ourselves not wanting (cold) smoothies as a breakfast.  Or a lunch.  Or anytime of the day.  I've been experimenting using the strawberries up in baked goods, and made a really good strawberry cobbler earlier this week.  This cobbler may make more appearances on our table this winter yet.  And, yes, there is plenty of strawberry jam put by.

Rhubarb - Only one rhubarb pie filling left (started with 5, but I'll make more this coming season) and 2 pint containers of rhubarb sauce.

That's it for this post.  Only the food put by for the poultry to cover yet.  That will be next . . . and much shorter!


Melissa said...

Mama Pea, I hear your pain regarding shell peas. Absolutely nothing compares and they freeze so well. I wish I had as many servings as you. As far as the raspberries go, you might have to make some raspberry liquor or cordial as I call it. Made some this past summer (it takes 3-4 months sitting in the fridge) and it was soooo well received by all who had a taste (or two, or three). You can use vodka or light rum and it uses sugar of course. It is so pretty for the holiday season in little cordial glasses!

Carolyn said...

I think the only thing we still have in the freezer is strawberries. Not many as we have been making banana/strawberry smoothies.....maybe even today as it's supposed to be in the lower 60's. :)

Kristina said...

Your garden bounty was very good. What a blessing. I am praying ours is much better than last years, and praying for better weather (too much rain, wind and way to many storms).

Mama Pea said...

Melissa - Yes, yes, yes! I'm not really interested in learning how to make wine (or cordials) but my hubby is (but hasn't done it yet) and each year when we have our fresh berries we exclaim what a shame we don't use them to make some fun drinks! Our daughter has made cordials in the past so maybe this summer she'll have the time to take some of the raspberries and produce something wonderful along the lines you've suggested.

Mama Pea said...

Carolyn - Send some of that weather in the 60s our way and we might be able to tolerate some smoothies!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - I do so hope you get good gardening weather this coming season. When Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, there's not much we can do. Although ours started last year with a rocky start, we had a much better harvest than we had expected.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I have been thinking about screening in our summer squash as they are attacked by squash bugs and the moth that lays vine borer eggs.

Unknown said...

I was told to plant geraniums and rosemary in an around my broccoli. It worked!! Seriously, it worked!

Sharon said...

Did you use regular screening material on your broccoli cages? I have the same problem with cabbage moths. I was thinking of using tulle. But it might be too expensive. I found that row covers get too hot underneath and when you pull them up it smells like cooked broccoli. Yuck.

RockWhisperer said...

Oh, what a harvest! I really love those cages you made. I have trouble with worms in the crucifers, too.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Mix raspberries with other berries for a combo jam - raspberry/peach is divine - or raspberry/blackberry. Mix raspberries/blackberries/blue berries for Bumble Berry Pie - very popular here in the PNW where they grow berries by the hundreds of acres and we get them from the farm stands for about 4.00 a quart. And raspberries on ice cream - ohhh heaven.

Mama Pea said...

Sunnybrook Farm - I know you folks "in the South" have scads of trouble with squash bugs. Knock, knock on wood, but we aren't bothered by them. I'm betting the screen cages would work to keep those little buggers out.

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - Thank you, thank you! I will DEFINITELY plant geraniums and rosemary among my broccoli plants this year. Thank you!

Mama Pea said...

Sharon - We used fiberglass screening because of the lighter weight. The problem I see with tulle is that it would not be as durable and tear easily. We've even had a little trouble figuring out where to store the screen cages so they don't accidentally get damaged. And, yes, row covers would trap too much heat for the cool weather loving broccoli. You could just consider your broccoli pre-cooked!

Mama Pea said...

Ilene Jones - Hubby doesn't mind finding a worm but that just ends the meal for me! We're going to give them a try again this year and hope for the best.

Mama Pea said...

JoAnn - The issue with all the lovely suggestions you made is that my dear husband doesn't care much for raspberry-anything jam because of the seeds. I do make a great Winter Raspberry Crumble Pie, but how much pie can (should!) you eat?!

Sandy Livesay said...

Now this is something I need to do too. Thank you for the information Nancy!!!

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