The summer bounty of vegetables in my garden has started to slow down. In these last weeks the tomatoes have been ripening at a steady rate. So this busy gardener has been canning, freezing, eating, then canning, freezing and eating some more, until I feel like a tomato! I use a variety of ways to preserve the harvest.
I generally can or freeze tomatoes. There are canning instructions on the internet for pressure canning, hot bath canning, and open kettle canning. A quick search will help you find the method that works well for you. Generally I will can chunky tomatoes to use in sauce and to make tomato juice for use in soups. I also will simply cook tomatoes in a pan and after letting them cool down, will place them in a plastic bag and freeze.
In my garden you will also find a variety of peppers. I plant green, red and yellow bell peppers. I also planted a couple of banana peppers this year as the little guy around here likes them roasted with veggies on the grill, cut in strips for sub sandwiches or just to eat plain! It is possible to freeze peppers as well. You can dice them and throw them in a freezer bag. No need to thaw them if using in a casserole or soup. I just use what I want from the bag, and put the rest of the bag back in the freezer until I need it again.
Peppers tend to be a bit watery after they are frozen so I find they don’t work well for things like pizza toppings. You can also cut peppers into strips and use in quick cooking dishes like a stir fry. I don’t thaw the peppers when I use them for a stir fry. I just throw them in the last couple of minutes of cooking. Small peppers, like hot peppers can be just washed and frozen whole with the seeds still inside.
Stuffed peppers are great frozen as well. I just wash the pepper well and dry it off then cut off the top and remove the seeds and white membrane. Next, I fill the peppers with a meat mixture. A simple mix of ground beef, rice, tomatoes and seasoning works great. I then put the stuffed peppers in a large muffin pan and put in the freezer until almost completely frozen. Remove them from the muffin tin and place in freezer bags. These are easy to pop out and just cook as is. No need to thaw. Cook at 350 until your meat is done. Watch the last 1/2 hour as the peppers can burn on the edges, so cover with foil.
I am not impressed with freezing zucchini as it tends to be very mushy when thawed. The best way is to use it to make bread or bars with it and then freeze it . I do freeze the hard squash like acorn or a butter squash. Just cut the squash in half, bake face down on a parchment lined cookie sheet until done. Let cool, scoop out the squash and put in a freezer container. When thawed, you can just add what you like to taste such as, butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper and warm in the oven. At the end of the cooking you can add marshmallows to the top if you desire.
You will also see that I have harvested broom corn. I lay this out in my garage to finish drying and will use it for fall decorating!
I love this time of year when it cools down and the air is a little crisper. Soon I’ll be busy putting my garden to bed for the winter sleep, and waiting for the renewed bounty in the spring!