What do we do with all these vegetables?! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-04-2002, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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My father-in-law has just passed away and he was the family vegetable gardener. He has a very large garden and we are trying to keep it going in his absence. His ever loving wife is the one who had to deal with all of his produce and it is/was very hard on her. Can anyone give me suggestions for recipes, freezing and canning methods, plant species, etc. that might help us grow a productive garden but not bog her down with too much work? She tends to overcook the vegs. and then freeze in plastic bags. They dried some beans and kept potatoes, onions, pumpkins, etc. in the basement. They do not have a good cold basement so this stuff doesn't last the winter. How do you deal with the constant in flux of tomotoes? Is there some quick way to freeze them rather than constantly canning?

I am a flower gardener and not bad cook so I plan to help as much as possible but I can't get out to their place every weekend. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Liz
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#2 of 8 Old 06-04-2002, 01:58 PM
 
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Sorry about your loss, but it is lovely to have something beautiful living on like this! One thought, do you have any sort of community dinners, soup kitchens, shelters, church/religious groups, etc., in your area? Sometimes such groups are able to take fresh produce and use it in their meals, and it might be a nice way to distribute a little of the man's love of gardening among the community. Another thought, are there any agriculture groups for young people in your area (such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America, as we have here)? I know 4-H has canning projects and such - maybe some local kids can help out.
peace, jen
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#3 of 8 Old 06-04-2002, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your sympathy. The garden truly is a legacy and it's nice to honour him by making it our own. Great ideas for what we can't deal with but the family is quite large so all we can freeze or can will get eaten! My MIL has asked that we not plant as many beans as he did because she hates frenching them (I think she said it to him but he just didn't listen). And I know allot of tomatoes rotted in the garden. I'm doing my best to eat all the asparagus (his family hates it!). We'll have no trouble with the strawberries so I guess it's really the tomatoes I'm concerned with. Can't we just cut 'em up and freeze them in bags?
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#4 of 8 Old 06-04-2002, 02:49 PM
 
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My SO's mom has successfully taken tomatoes, blanched them lightly, and put them in glass (!) jars with space for the water to expand, and frozen them. They're best for soups and sauces once thawed. I'd imagine, therefore, that you could probably freeze them in plastic bags pretty successfully. Hers were cut in half, and they were somewhat small to begin with. You might also make up a bunch of simple tomato sauce and freeze that and send some home with all of the family? Sorry I have no experience with canning, but you might even be able to find some good resources with an internet search or library books?
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#5 of 8 Old 06-05-2002, 01:02 PM
 
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For canning basics you can find cookbooks on such at the library.


Tomatoes can be frozen whole. Then used in stews and soups. The texture is destroyed once frozen but that is OK for sauce, stew soups etc.

Purree the tomatoes and then freeze in bags, this will give you a quick tomato sauce for recipes. Get adventurous and throw in some basil or other herbs. Later on when it is cold out and you dont mind standing over the hot stove, you can turn this into spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce.

Get some good canning/preserving books from the library.

Ohh and tomatoes... get a $20 dehydrator and make sun dried tomatoes. Slice and sprinkle with oregano and a little chopped basil. Slap them on the dehydrator and then store in a dry jar. Add to pizzas, pasta dishes and other dishes to make really YUMMY!!! Roma tomatoes work best for this.

A dehydrator makes light work of preserving garden goodies.
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#6 of 8 Old 06-05-2002, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I'll suggest freeze the tomatoes whole or halfed and then once the season is over thaw them and make sauce. We eat lots of them fresh from the garden but there does always seem to be a surplus that she just can't keep up with. If she can do the bagging and freezing we can all have a canning weekend in the Fall. I just have to convince her that she doesn't need to cook everything to mush before freezing . . .
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#7 of 8 Old 06-07-2002, 12:15 PM
 
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blanching is all she needs to do. Just dip them in boiling water to stop the aging process, then freeze. This works well with lots of veggies!

mom to four lively children. birth and postpartum doula. midwifery student. choosing to enjoy life. :
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#8 of 8 Old 06-07-2002, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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So that's why you blanch? To stop the aging process? I freeze red peppers raw and they're great to just throw into stir fries. What's the difference? I just froze a whole whack of asparagus raw for the first time. Please tell me they wil be alright! Actually there is tons more in the garden, I can always eat these and blanch and freeze more if necessary. But do tell, TeacherMom, when to blanch?

Chanley, the dehydrator is a great idea, too. I love sundried tomatoes!
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