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.

Over Cross-Pollination or Franken-Squash

What is that thing?

This is a picture of a pumpkin plant. But you are saying to yourself…..that doesn’t look like a pumpkin. You are correct. That is definitely NOT a pumpkin growing on that pumpkin plant.

As part of our desire to continuously regrow our heirloom vegetables without purchasing new seeds every year we started to collect seeds so we could plant them again the following year. It was lost on us that there could be a possibility of cross-pollination that would cause the seeds collected to result in a completely different fruit! This year we learned that the squash family is one of the most susceptible to cross-pollination.

This fruit looks to be a cross between a pumpkin and a yellow squash. It grew early in the season like a summer squash would. There were round, smooth green fruit, like a zucchini in round form. There were also pumpkin shaped fruit that was too small and green or yellow fully ripe. Each plant had it’s own style of franken fruit, but the style was not mixed on a single plant.

We completed a taste test of the frankensquash to see if it was edible and it was, but the flavor was odd and the seeds had strange patterns in the fruit. We pulled off the edible pieces and ate them.

But now was the painstaking part! The pumpkin plants had grown to full size and were beautifully pest free. We had to pull them ALL out and replant them with store bought seeds. After all, our customers were expecting pumpkins at the end of the season!

We lost some time but luckily the new plants quickly germinated and gained some time back for our fall crop. Painful lessons learned. Until we have crop rows on opposite sides of the property, we will need to purchase new seeds every year to guarantee quality for our customers.

Get a closer look at the franken-squash on the farm’s YouTube channel: