Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Storing the Harvest

I've mentioned before Tuesday is our pick up day at the CSA. After three years we've got it down to a science. The first year we ended up with a lot of slimy green yuck in the fridge. Now, we've learned how to store everything to minimize spoilage but there's a definite time commitment involved. It takes me about an hour to get everything sorted out.

Herbs that won't be used in the next day or two can be frozen as is. Green onions and garlic scapes can be chopped and frozen raw to be used in recipes (they mush if you freeze them whole and try to chop them later.)

Yesterday they lifted the picking limits on strawberries and told members to "fill their freezers." You don't have to tell us twice. The whole family was out in the field filling buckets. My sons did a better job filling their bellies than their buckets but they tried. Storing these can be very labor intensive. You need to remove the green part before popping them into containers and freezing them. We had an assembly line going. I was too tired to count how much is now in the freezer but its a lot!

June brings a lot of greens to the Northeast. We divide them into two categories. The greens that are milder are kept in the fridge for salads. The greens that fall into the "ewwww mommy its bitter" category, are steamed and frozen for fall/winter meals.

Traditional cookbooks are helpful with food storage questions but they only go so far with how to use unfamiliar foods. I'm always trying to figure out how much of the plant is edible. Can I eat those greens? These questions are better answered by The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery or a similar book. (I realize that Carla Emery has whole chapters devoted to animals as food but I have found the rest of her information helpful enough to simply avoid those pages.) Our CSA members are a great source of info as well.

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