I hope this is the summer that you've decided to grow some of your own vegetables and fruits. If you've not been able to start your garden just yet, I hope you are taking advantage of all the beautiful seasonal produce this summer by stocking up and putting up.
I've been hearing so many wonderful stories of neighbors sharing their garden harvest and blessing folks with baskets of tomatoes and huge bowls of grapes. I've also seen an abundance of CSA farms working hard with bounties of goodies for their communities. New Farmers Markets seem to be popping up here and there in an attempt to provide the locals some fresh organically grown and righteous food. This all does my heart so much good!
Knowing what to do with it all can be a challenge at first. It doesn't have to be difficult. Keeping it clean, simple and natural is all part of such reward. I'm going to list just a few ideas for common problems that may occur and hopefully give some easy solutions.
NO CANNING EQUIPMENT, not a problem!
There are plenty of things that can be put up easily in the freezer. Many things can be dried to preserve as well. With just a few ingredients pickling can be done and placed straight into the refrigerator. And of course you will want to stock up on many things as they are in season that store well by just keeping them in a cool dry place, like winter squash, pumpkins, potatoes, garlic and onions.
Peppers can be easily dried naturally as long as they get plenty of air circulation. If you are lacking a nice breeze they can be placed in the oven on a cookie sheet, set on the lowest temperature to dry. They can also be canned up in some brine and placed in the fridge to marinate. If you invest in a large water bath caner and a case or two of mason jars there are several simple recipes for beginners to stock up your pantry. One of the easiest and tastiest recipes to start with might be some delicious Pepper Relish. After that you might be interested in creating a delicious Amish Style Mustard Condiment that is loaded with peppers.
Tomatoes are another abundant item that is very useful in many dishes in the kitchen. If you begin to find yourself with more than you think you can handle, don't panic! Tomatoes are easily stored in the freezer. Simply wash them up, quarter them and put them in an air tight container. They can be pulled down later and used to make sauces, Salsas and even a common staple like Ketchup.
Summer Squash can be preserved in a number of ways. One of the easiest ways is to blanch and freeze. They can also be breaded and froze for an oven fry later on. I have to say though that my favorite is to pickle the squash. It can be prepared in brine to marinate in the refrigerator or done up in a hot water bath to put in the pantry. This summer I enjoyed preparing a new recipe that gave my squash a more Asian flavor using lemon and ginger as spices. I also used the creamy white Heirloom Pattypan Squash for this recipe. But it could be made with all colors of squash or even mixed would surely be a sight!
Cucumbers are best preserved right away while they are fresh and crisp. However it doesn't have to be a whole lot of work to put them up. Just save some nice large jars! With just the right spices and herbs in a good brine they can go straight to the refrigerator and keep for months. The brine can even be used again once you've eaten all the pickles. Believe me they get eaten quickly around my house. For the deli style favorite try my favorite Claussen Pickle recipe. Then for your sweet tooth you will enjoy a treat with Bread and Butter Pickles.
I think Farmer Brad from Home Sweet Farms, which happens to be our nearest local CSA farm, describes what Righteous Food is so perfectly! He says it this way, “We use ONLY natural techniques (NO synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides). We care about our environment and the quality of our food, because our family lives here, and we eat everything we grow.“
So give growing your own righteous food a try or support your local CSA farmers and local Farmers Market. Buy in bulk seasonally and put it up the simple and natural way! Happy Gardening!