Produce Preservation Tips

How to preserve produce | KaleAndAle.comYou have a lot of produce one way or another. It could be that all the tomatoes in your garden got ripe at once, corn was a crazy good deal and at its peak at the farmer’s market, or zucchini was in season this week in your CSA. No matter the reason, you just can’t eat it all and want to preserve it.

No matter how many times a coworker brings in food from a home garden or tree, or whatever is the “it” food of the week at the CSA, I pride myself on not being wasteful, and extending the produce of the season into the off season.

I know others have these same issues, and I’ve been so crazy busy the past week preserving food and know I will be as we sprint toward the first frost here in the Twin Cities, that I wanted to share my tips with you, and I want to hear your tips on how to preserve food.

My favorite ways to preserve food include:

Canning

I tried this for the first time last week. Not going to lie, it was a lot of work but the early tastes are delicious and it was fun to make and see the science of it. I got a lot of tips and recipes from the Ball jar website.

I will have salsa for a very long time to come. Someone who cans suggested tomato sauce and I love that idea because I will know what’s going in it and it can be canned in one- or two-meal can sizes, as I just don’t go through a jar from the store quickly.

Canning salsa | KaleAndAle.com

Canning salsa verde

Freezing

This has long been my go-to method. Freezing is easy and quick, and you have food stocked in your fridge for the off-season. It’s important to note that food that has been frozen won’t have the same texture or consistency once it’s defrosted, but what you freeze will be great in smoothies, soups, casseroles, things of that nature. And think come a cold winter day how great it will be to have food in your freezer you don’t need to buy that is home-grown!

In the photo below I have a vegan squash soup that I froze because it made a lot. If you aren’t sure how something already made will work in the freezer and through being defrosted, put one serving in the freezer and try it out to know for next time. Also, when freezing some foods need to be blanched, and use the right items to freeze it (freezer bags, tin foil to prevent frostbite, etc.). I like to label and date things so I quickly know what it is and how long it’s been in there.

Read more on the USDA freezing and food safety website.

Freeze produce | KaleAndAle.com

Freezing broth, veggies and soup

Quick pickle

Simply put, prepare what you want to pickle, put it in an airtight jar, and put vinegar and flavors over it. It’s a great way to add flavor and preserve something you can’t eat quick enough but want to enjoy. I especially like to quick pickle cucumbers, green beans and beets. I eat them straight, and on salads and sandwiches. I’ve made this flavorful beet recipe a few times. See the Serious Eats guide to quick pickling to get started.

Dehydrate

A dehydrator is large and can be a big initial investment, but if you have a lot of food to preserve or like the taste of dehydrated foods, it’s worth it. Dehydrated foods have so many uses, from fruit as quick, sweet snacks to raw crackers and granola to veggies so they don’t take up as much space or spoil before they are added to soups later. Read my post here about what I bought when I got a dehydrator.

Make broth

As noted on the left in the freezer picture is cubes of broth. Homemade broth is great because you know what’s (not) in it and you can use all the scraps from carrots, onions, potatoes and other veggies (and meat if you eat it) for the broth. So to me that’s win-win! And I love putting it in ice cube trays because I know how much broth they hold, so when a recipes calls for a certain amount I grab the right number of cubes. Read how I make my own broth here.

Give away

Gain favor of family, friends and coworkers in the easiest way: Give them extras of food you already have! This is a tried and true method, and at my last job it was very common and the best way to make new best friends.

What is your solution when you have too much produce?

Seasonal Produce: Cooking and Eating Now

So much great and bountiful produce has been in my kitchen from my garden, CSA, markets and other peoples gardens. I have been in my happy place making so much great food. Sadly I haven’t been developing new recipes with all this great food, but it’s so hard to justify being in the kitchen when warm weather is in short supply here in Minnesota and I know our days are numbered.

That hardly means I haven’t been making and eating great food! It’s been the opposite, in fact, so I’ve compiled the season-appropriate recipes for others, like me, who are looking for something new and quick to add to a recipe list when produce is bountiful. Because I want this to be a link-sharing post for all to benefit, please let everyone know your current favorite seasonal recipe in the comments.

I have the best problem possible: too much produce. To take care of that, I’ve been more aggressive in my freezing and am in the stages of canning for the first time. I can’t wait to enjoy the summer bounty this winter!

Late Summer/Early Fall Recipes

What follows is the types of food I’ve been making and recipes I’ve used.

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Corn salad/slaw: I threw this together for Taco Tuesday as a way to use a bunch at once and give the tacos some crunch like many taco trucks do. It consists of corn, beets, turnips, onion, lime and salt.

Zucchini spaghetti: Once I learned how to use the julienne attachment on my mandoline, it was over. The best way to have gluten-free pasta, I threw in some garden tomatoes, herbs and chickpeas for protein.

Eggplant balls: These things are quick and easy to make, and so tasty. Finally a way to not mess up making eggplant at home!

Salsa verde: As I said, I’ve been canning, and this is no exception. I have two tomatillo plants in the garden, so green salsa is a must. I’ve been using the Thug Kitchen recipe, but here’s a similar recipe if for some reason you don’t own this amazing cookbook.

Spaghetti squash “lasagna”: Another gluten-free recipe (using squash and zucchini as pasta is my fave, light and yummy!). For this one I prepared the spaghetti squash as you would, then layered the strands with sliced tomatoes and diced peppers and onions and mozzarella and repeated again, then baked it until heated through and cheese on the top was browned.

Please share with us in the comments what seasonal dishes you have been making.

To see more of what I’ve been getting from the farm, growing and making, follow me on Instagram and “like” the Kale and Ale Facebook page.

Zucchini Pizza

Zucchini pizzas | KaleAndAle.comZucchini pizzas | KaleAndAle.com

Zucchini is the base for pizzas in this recipe.

In an effort to solve my most burning question every summer — “How do I use all my squash and zucchini?” — I decided to go the squash-as-pasta route, using it in place of the crust for pizza. A bonus was this was a tasty, light treat using produce from my farm and garden in a non-too heavy meal on a humid summer day.

Herbvorous Butcher | KaleAndAle.comHerbvorous Butcher | KaleAndAle.com

My first experience with Minneapolis’ vegan butcher resulted in tasty Hawaiian ribs and pepperoni.

As luck would have it, I stopped at a Herbivorous Butcher pop-up shop last week and snagged some pepperoni, so I knew the results would be tasty. (Side note: Herbivorous Butcher is a Minneapolis-based vegan butcher making small-batch handcrafted food from scratch.)

Zucchini sweating | KaleAndAle.com

Sweating the zucchini

I wanted the pizza crust to be as bread-like and sturdy as possible, and cook as well as could be expected, so I sliced the zucchini evenly into 1/4 inch slices on my mandoline and salted them for about 30 minutes. Patting them dry, I dipped each slice in the milk-eggwash and dredges them in breadcrumbs. They then went on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked at 400° for about 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.

Zucchini pizzas assembly KaleAndAle.comZucchini pizzas assembly KaleAndAle.com

Pizza assembly line

Next the zucchini crusts got a light amount of marinara (no need to make them soggy an hour into the production) and cheese, then thinly sliced toppings. In this case the toppings were mushrooms, green onions, the pepperoni and rosemary, again lightly topped to not make the pizza too heavy. From here the pizza was put back into the still-warm oven to broil for 10 minutes. Once the cheese was bubbling and the toppings cooked, it was ready.

With the breaded zucchini as the crust, it was difficult to tell it wasn’t bread, it just wasn’t dense like crust. And more importantly, it was hard to tell it was zucchini (one of my less favorite summer vegetables).

With a little planning and not much hands-on time, this was a really tasty light summer dinner I will be making again.

Zucchini pizzas | KaleAndAle.comZucchini pizzas | KaleAndAle.com
Zucchini pizza
Print Recipe
Pizzas using breaded and baked zucchini as the crust.
Servings Prep Time
2 60 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 60 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Zucchini pizzas | KaleAndAle.comZucchini pizzas | KaleAndAle.com
Zucchini pizza
Print Recipe
Pizzas using breaded and baked zucchini as the crust.
Servings Prep Time
2 60 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 60 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice zucchini as evenly as possible and as thinly as desired.
  2. Salt zucchini 30 minutes. Pat dry.
  3. Whisk together egg and milk in one bowl, pour the breadcrumbs into another. Dip each slice of zucchini in the egg wash and coat with breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet and cook at 400° for 15 minutes or until browned and crisp.
  4. Remove from oven and top with marinara, cheese and toppings. Place in warm oven and broil 10 minutes.
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CSA 2015 Weeks 2 to 4

I’ve been slacking on blogging, falling behind. We are a month into the CSA, and it’s starting to get to be more than I can eat in one week (but, challenge accepted!). The variety is so impressive, I can’t believe week 1 and a few items were only a few weeks ago.

The kinds of things I have been getting lately includes peas (done for the season), huge heads of lettuce, lots of squash/zucchini and potatoes, onions, beets and green beans (yummm). This week we start with sweet corn. Sweet!

Here’s weeks two to four:

I’ve been having a lot of salads and grain/veggie bowls. I’ve also made enchiladas, and today I’m going to make stuffed peppers in the slow cooker and grill veggies.

As if that all isn’t enough, I tried my hand at gardening this year, and the results seem to be a best-case scenario, as evident below.

Garden | KaleandAle.com

The garden almost two months in. A beast!

What have you been making with in-season produce and what is your favorite way to preserve produce?

CSA 2015 Week 1

CSA 2015 Week 1 | KaleAndAle.comCSA 2015 Week 1 | KaleAndAle.com

CSA 2015 Week 1 haul

Today is the most exciting day of the year: My CSA returns! Full of growth and life and freshness, I love not having to plan meals so open-ended but getting what is best and at its peak of the season.

The CSA always starts slow, but that’s OK because I need to get back into the swing of prep. This week’s food includes:

  • 2 tomato plants for the garden
  • An English Thyme herb (anyone know recipes for this??)
  • Asparagus (yuck—what are good ways to mask the taste??)
  • Two kinds of lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • Chives
  • New potatoes
  • Naan from local baker Artisan Naan Bakery

The veggies are clean. Tomorrow I plan to add the radish greens to the stuffed pasta shells I already plan to make. I will use the chives and asparagus along with mushrooms and onions in a grain bowl. The naan might be used for individual pizzas or as a sandwich wrap.

I love fresh, unprocessed eating, so I’m excited what the CSA I belong to, Culinary Delights Farm, has in store for the season.

Are you new to a CSA? Don’t be overwhelmed. With a few simple tips and go-to recipes, it’s a snap to use all your food. Check out my post “CSA Basics: Taking Care of the Food” for tricks and information. For my readers who have belonged to a CSA, what would you share to help the newbies navigate the share?