Preserving the Excess

There will always be excess crops after the end of harvest sales. After donating we preserve some for using in the winter.

Tomatoes are my favorite to save for use. Canning tomatoes is labor intensive. Tomatoes have to be cleaned, peeled and in some cases de-seeded. In our case we don’t mind the seeds as long as we’re not making tomato sauce or paste. With tomato sauce you just puree and cook until the thickness is correct. For paste you need to cook even longer. I always lose my patience and stop at the sauce.

Pickles are much easier. Refrigerator pickles can be made by simply slicing cucumbers into spears and putting them in jars with pickle juice made from a simple flavor packet. They only last a couple months this way but if you only have a few it’s a great way to do it. Regular canning of pickles isn’t just for cucumbers. We also pickled beans.

We prefer not to pickle our beets. We like the sweet cooked slices as a side dish. Beets are almost fully cooked until they are easily pealed. After peeling we cut the larger ones into thick round slices and use a vacuum sealer to freeze them in a single layer. Small beets are frozen whole. When we are ready to eat them we let them fully defrost before lightly microwaving them just enough to warm them up. Overcooking makes them rubbery.

Freezing carrots does not require any cooking. Just peel and cut into thick slices, vacuum pack and freeze into single layers. We drop these into stews and casseroles. They aren’t good eaten by themselves. The texture doesn’t hold up.

Finally, we cook all the pumpkins, puree them and freeze them in one cup quantities. That measurement is usually the amount used in a pumpkin bread recipe. Two cups makes a pumpkin pie. Containers are better than vacuum seal bags. When ready to use, defrost them and pour into a sieve to let any excess liquid drain out. I’ve made the mistake of not draining and had a very soft pumpkin pie.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to save your fresh veggies. The next thing we are working on for next year is drying herbs to sell as seasoning. We can’t wait to try it out.

Hive Freeze

Unfortunately we ended up with a late freeze this spring a week after we installed the nucs .The storm killed just about all the bees in weaker new hive. The other new hive, although in better shape, took a big hit. We did an inspection on our existing hive that had survived a winter already and it stood up to the late freeze with no issue. We combined the remains of the two weak hives and hoped for the best.

After the empty hive was cleaned out we decided the existing hive was so strong that we would split the hive. We took a few frames from the strong hive and moved them into the empty hive. One frame included queen cells so they could hatch their own queen. It seems to have been successful but only time will tell. The bigger concern is if the newly combined second hive we bought this year will survive. Only time will tell.

Watch as we inspect our first hive in the spring to see how they did over the winter. It’s on our YouTube Channel: