Veggie Sorting and Processing
Each June my table become a distribution center for fresh garden veggies (with mild weather this year, we’ll be sorting well into July). So, this posting is about how we process the fresh veggies.
Cucumbers are canned the same day they are picked. Any remaining cukes go back onto the table as a reminder of their availability for fresh salads. As of today, our pantry contains 35 quarts of pickled cucumbers, and one gallon jar of “refrigerator” pickles (recipes for both will be posted soon); we already consumed the first gallon that was made in early June. The weather this year has been cooler in June (highs about 85 to 90, rather than up to 100) and there’s been considerably more rain (about 7 inches in June alone). As a consequence, we’ve got a bumper crop so it’s time to can for storage.
Tomatoes are ripening at a slower pace this year — often they stop creating fruit in late June to early July. We should have tomatoes through July. (Note: Tomato pollination stops at about 95 degrees Farenheit.) In the kitchen, we prepare canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salsa — one year there were so many tomatoes we also made catsup. This year it’s canned tomatoes and salsa (we have had good harvests of peppers (jalapeno and bell) plus onions, so we need only add garlic that is store-bought.
Cream Peas, Black-Eyed Peas.
These freeze very well. First shell the green peas then blanch with boiling water, freeze on cookie sheets and then vacuum-pack for long term use (we add a few regular freezer bags for consumption within 6 to 8 weeks. When we’re tired of picking and processing the green peas, they are allowed to dry and then packaged and stored in the pantry. The black-eyed peas are processes the same way. We save a batch of both dried and fresh black-eyed peas for a traditional New Year’s Day dinner.
We generally do not have very much eggplant (just keep a few plants) and we cook those either in a stir fry or in an eggplant casserole (recipe posted soon).
We are going to take a try at growing garlic this year (seed heads in the clear plastic bag). In this area, garlic is planted in Fall and harvested in Spring. It should be interesting.
End of Season.
As we continue through July, the end of season will certainly arrive. Soon the cucumbers will stop producing, along with bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. The peas and okra will continue to grow — defying the heat — until they are no longer watered and picked on a regular basis.
The last thing that will be harvested in the Fall will be the sweet potatoes (harvested after the first freeze). Since we’ve not grown sweet potatoes before this year, it’s sure to be yet another garden adventure and learning experience.
We are about out of jars and space to put them, so canning will stop soon. Then it’s time for freezing until production stops. Throughout the season, we also share on a “you pick it, you can have it” basis.