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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
Shredded Zucchini: great for winter zucchini bread.
- Wash and Dry Zucchini.
- Remove ends.
- Using a regular cheese grater shred zucchini just like you would a block of cheese.
- 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:
- Wash and Dry Zucchini.
- Cut into slices and then into chunks.
- Boil water
- Place zucchini into boiling water and boil for 3 minutes (start timing immediately)
- Remove and drain.
- 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.
- Drain water, pat dry.
- Either place chunks on a baking sheet to freeze individually or place into air tight freezer bag.
- If using baking sheet method put the sheets in the freezer over night and then transfer frozen zucchini to air tight freezer bag.
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