The time to soak up the organic seasonal abundance is NOW. We do not harvest any veggies from the farm from June through September. So the time to preserve veggies for the off-season is when crops are abundant in the springtime!
So, this post is dedicated to a few of our tried and true methods for storing fresh vegetables and the flavors of springtime to keep you eating local ingredients from the farm this summer. With some planning and little bit of extra care, we can all extend our enjoyment of local vegetables into the summer months with a variety of methods. If you try one of these techniques each week for the final weeks of the season, you will have put away a good amount of veggies for the summer off-season!
If you don’t have a lot of space, start with herbs. You’d be surprised how nice it is to have a stash of local herbs stowed away to enhance off-season food.
Drying: All the leafy herbs from the farm can be dried – hang upside down until fully dry, then shred them with your hands (or grind in food processor or coffee grinder) and store in a jar in your spice cabinet.
Turmeric: can be frozen whole, and grated frozen into your meals. (Keep it in a bag on the freezer door so it doesn’t get lost, and it’s always at the ready)
Spice cubes: Freeze your favorite herbs in an ice cube tray with a combination of liquids/oils, for usage in flavoring future meals. Mix the herb (basil works very well for this) with the liquid/oil in a blender, pour into ice cube tray and freeze. Pop the frozen cubes out of the ice tray and store in a plastic bag or jars in the freezer. You can get really creative with this technique with different liquids/oils and the different herb varieties, and different liquid/oil to herb ratios. Here are a few suggestions: Thai basil and coconut oil, tulsi basil and coconut oil, Italian basil and olive oil, savory herbs blend (sage, thyme, oregano) with olive oil. These cubes are perfect as the base of future meals, just melt one or two cubes in a pan before getting your meal going.
Storage pesto: Make your favorite pesto recipe. Then, divide out into glass jars (we like to use ¼ pint jars because it’s a perfect serving size for cooking a pesto-based meal). Once the jars are full, add a layer of olive oil to the top of the pesto, enough to ensure all of the pesto is covered by the layer. This layer of oil will keep the pesto from oxidizing/turning brown. You can store pesto fresh like this in the fridge for a week, or FREEZE the jars for a year! When you’re ready to use the pesto, remove it from the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator overnight. It will last fresh in the fridge for a week.
Onions: can be chopped and frozen with no further preparation.
Garlic: will store for months on the counter.
Store for weeks/months: Carrots, beets, daikon radishes, and turnips can all be stored for an extended period of time with this simple trick: remove all leaves where they connect to the root. Put roots in a Tupperware or sealed bag. Store in the fridge. That’s all! Root crops can be stored for three weeks to a month with this method, and up to two months for carrots (depending on how cold your refrigerator is). This mimics a root cellar, keeping the roots from drying out and withering in the fridge. The roots may start to grow tiny micro-roots or new little leaves on top, but they are still perfectly good to eat. This technique would be best utilized by bringing home root crops from one of the final markets of the season to continue eating root crops after the season is over for several weeks.
No blanching: All leafy greens can be frozen! No blanching necessary. You can just chop the greens to the desired size, and freeze in a ziplock bag or Tupperware. Storage time for fresh frozen greens is a couple of months.
Blanching: Blanching will increase storage life of the greens up to a year. The general rule for blanching is to drop pre-chopped greens into boiling water to cook for 2 minutes. Cool greens and squeeze out water, then freeze in a ziplock bag or Tupperware.
Uses for frozen greens: Frozen greens can be used to add to summer green smoothies and any cooked dish – soup, stir-fry, curry, cooked greens, etc.
– Cook double batches of the meals you are making over the next several weeks and freeze half for later!
– Any soup. Freeze in jars.
– Tomato sauce. Freeze in jars.
– Veggie chili and stir fry. Freeze in jars.
– Make veggie soup stock by boiling and straining veggie trimmings. Nutrients stored for later!
– Make cooked “veggie packs” in ziplock bags (for example peppers and onions for fajitas) to thaw and combine with rice or meat later on.
– Make cooked “omelette packs” in ziplock bags (for example chopped scallions, blanched greens, and zucchini or peppers) to thaw use as omelette filling later on.
– Freeze roasted veggies (for example roasted beets, roasted carrots or roasted peppers), for blending into fresh hummus later on.
– Use a spiralizer to spiralize zucchini and freeze for future “zoodles.” For best results: salt the zoodles in a strainer, wait 10 minutes, then squeeze out all moisture before freezing.
All of these veggies can be successfully frozen blanched or not (just cut and trim the veggies how you want to cook them later, as you won’t be able to chop the frozen produce):
Peppers – great for fajitas and curry
Butternut squash – cubed and frozen for soups or roasting (or just store whole butternut squashed on the counter or in the pantry for months
Beans – great for cooked green beans over the summer
Tomatoes – can be thawed and sauteed
Eggplant – cooks perfectly into curry or baba ganoush onced thawed
Squash/Zucchini – use in cooked meals, or expert tip – cut into cubes and pop them into summer smoothies to sneak some veggies in
Carrots – trimmed and frozen for stir fry or soups
See you at the market!
All the best,
Ellen and Cole