This weekend garden guilt won over house guilt. My house was a wreck, but so was the garden and it required a bit of attention. I’d take pictures of my garden, but it’s not pretty. We don’t weed very often. We leave the rows far enough apart to run the roto-tiller down them occasionally, but we don’t do that at all towards the end. The weeds are currently taller than the plants, but still the plants keep producing. The guilt is about the amount of produce. I grew it, I need to do something with it. Wasting any of it seems wrong. However, preserving it all in one way or another would be a full-time job, if I were to do it all.
I have dreams about tomatoes now. We’ve been making tomato sauce for weeks. We’ve given away at least 60 lbs of them, and still they keep coming. Last week, and again this weekend I just froze some of them whole in desperation. I’ll deal with those ones later. Yesterday I found the first evidence of tomato worms in the garden and my first thought was that they were welcome to the rest of the tomatoes. Then I searched them out, picked them off and stomped on them. And if you have any idea how much I hate worms, you know that wasn’t the highlight of my weekend.
I made two more pans of roasted tomatoes and vegetables and turned it into pizza sauce for the freezer. I washed a sinkful of cherry and grape tomatoes and froze them whole to add in to dishes that would normally use whole canned tomatoes (when you take them out of the freezer, if you want them skinned, just run them under cool water and the skin slides right off). I also cleaned up the rest of the onions, gave some away and stored the rest.
The dad and the kids picked about 20 lbs of green and yellow wax beans and we managed to get the yellow beans blanched and put away in the freezer, but the green beans will have to be ok in the fridge until tonight, when I will attack them while the tall kid is at hockey practise (the dad got talked into coaching again this year).
How to Freeze Beans
- fresh beans – any quantity (the rule of thumb is one handful per serving)
- large pot of boiling water (I use a large pot with a pasta cooking insert, it makes removing the peas easy)
- large bowl or sink full of cold water and ice
- freezer bags
Pick your beans. You need beans that are fresh and crisp. Select filled but tender, firm, crisp beans. Remove and discard any that are soft, spotted, rusty, leathery or wrinkled (too old). If there is a delay between picking and freezing, put them in the refrigerator or (like we did) put them in a large bowl of cold water.
Trim the ends off of the beans.
Boil your water and set up your ice water bath. Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a large bowl with ice and cold water.
Blanch the beans. Vegetables contain enzymes that can break down the destroy nutrients and change the colour, flavour, and texture of food during frozen storage. Blanching time for beans is 3 minutes – the duration is just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill bacteria. Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place them in the boiling water. You can use the same blanching water each time – you may have to refill some water occasionally between batches to keep the water level the same.
Cool the beans. Pull the beans (mine were in the pasta strainer) out of pot immediately after the blanching time is up and plunge (the strainer) into the ice water bath – this stops them from overcooking. Keep in the water bath until completely cooled. Drain thoroughly (this shouldn’t take more than a minute).
Pop the beans into freezer bags in whatever quantity you want. I put 3 or 4 handfulls in each medium freezer bag – the perfect amount for two adults and two picky kids. I also stack them flat on cookie sheets to freeze – things freeze easier and faster in a single flat layer than as one large mass and they are easier to stack in the freezer this way. That’s it. Now just freeze them until you want them.
I did manage to get half of the house cleaned. The other half will have to wait until I hear the Queen is coming for a visit. Or my mom. She still scares me a little.