Monday, August 3, 2009
How Fresh is Fresh?
I asked my mother this question this morning when she told me, "be sure you don't let them (the squash) get too old" as I was wondering about freezing them for this winter's use. I'm no pro, and since I admit to learning how this past generation and before handled things for health and prosperity, I NEEDED to KNOW!
I have been incredibly blessed by a bumper crop of wonderful yellow crook neck or summer squash. Now you might not be a fan of it, but I have NEVER eaten one cooked or RAW that I didn't like! So count me in the pot or pan or dish if SQUASH is on the menu. I may be alone, but the point isn't so much about growing my own squash which is a FIRST for our family, this is our FIRST successful garden EVER! Oh folks, this family has tried gardening in the past to be overtaken with all manner of weeds and wildlife "help" that robbed us of our tasty bounty.
What did we do different this year? Well, it all went into the preparation of the soil I think. It could be climate too, but the preparation was more extensive than ever in the past. Our second most successful gardening attempt was two years ago when we used some raised beds that we added potting soil after weeding well and putting down weed cloth and mulched~lots of work huh? Yeah, and we got some, but not tons of produce for the area. Certainly not enough I was in need of a deep freeze which I have up and operational for this year's produce.
So this year, it's an in-ground garden. It was tilled 3 times and power raked each time, removing all the grass and weeds. It's in a sunny location, and there are wire lines at varying heights to prevent the animals from "visiting." There was no potting soil added, but just the tilling done over several weeks. We did not test the soil, but think it will be a good idea for next year as some of our plants did not do well in the areas they were planted, while others, like my SQUASH are doing well. We are also getting quite a few acorn squash. I love these too, and can freeze for "faux pumpkin pie" this winter! Yum!
So back to the question, how fresh is fresh in preserving our veggies for the freezer. I am working to keep putting up pint bags as it comes in. Not letting it set more than a few days without either eating it or preparing to freeze.
Methods for freezing are quite simple. It requires "blanching" the product for 3 minutes and quickly cooling to down to stop the cooking process. This site: http://www.pickyourown.org/freezing_summer_squash.htm has pics and the way I'm doing it, and it's just like Mama said ;-)) I have read some no blanch methods, and I am guessing that if you eat the stuff pretty quick (within a month or so) it would be OK. . .but I truly don't know, so I'm going with and recommending the tried and true~who wants to get sick~not me or you!
This has to be one of those great budget preserving secrets: A WONDERFUL garden or a few homegrown pots with your OWN veggies.
We did start most of our own plants this year as well. THIS SAVED US A TON~and what I didn't start, a fellow FreeCycle buddy gave me. If you don't know, FreeCycle is a wonderful group on Yahoo groups that has chapters all over the nation so you can join your local group. Folks give away what they no longer want or need making offers and others to keep stuff out of landfills will take it and use it or offer it back to the group. There are rules for each group, and if you go to Yahoo groups and then you can search for your local, you will find all about it. But how cool is FREE for some homegrown plants for our garden? Yes, the seeds did cost us when we had to purchase them, but how wonderful to see those plants grow and now bring in the goodies! I think this is more healthy too! I KNOW what we used to grow our veggies~talk about FRESH!
This is ONE more way to take care of my money so it won't LEAVE ME~
Do you have a garden this year? Are you preserving for the future? What's working?
blessings and hmmm...it's getting to be lunch~squash time! (wash, split in to two halves, sprinkle with black pepper placed on microwavable plate and cook 5 min~YUMMY!)