Preserving your Food Without Canning

H and I are still looking for a CSA for 2013, but we are also stil enjoying the goodies that came from our CSA in 2012.  We did a lot of canning when we got overwhelmed with fruit towards the tail end of the 2011 share.  We still have a lot of that, so H and I were looking into different ways to preserve what we got from 2012 in ways that we’d actually use.

While I have yet to figure out why, we’ve had trouble drawing down the stash of canned goods that we created in 2011.  We are still working at it, but we both agreed that it wasnt the best idea to add more in 2012 (it also seemed like we didnt get as much, which kind of bears out in the bankruptcy filing).  We did get a lot of a few things though, and these are a few of the things that we did get.

Freezing

One of the best ways to put up your winter servings is to freeze the stuff you cant eat right away.  There are many, many different ways to freeze things.  You can freeze them exactly how you get them, or you can turn your extra veggies into soup or stew that can be frozen for later.  Most vegetables require blanching before you can put them up in the freezer.  Blanching is just heating the vegetables with boiling water (or steam).  For more information, check out the university extension guide for freezing veggies.

This year, H and I blanched quite a bit of potatoes to keep in the freezer for the winter.  The directions that we used can be found at pick your own.  Right now, we are just using the potatoes when people come over to make some delicious breakfast burritos!  The process was not all that time consuming, and it was much better than letting the potatoes grow roots or just throw them away.

One of the potatoes we did save and are going to let root out so that we can plant it this summer.  While I havent decided 100% yet, it looks like we may be using something like this potato growing container while gardening this summer.

We also found out a way to freeze herbs this year.  We were getting inundated with cilantro and parsley, and while we were using it as fast as we could, we couldnt get rid of it all.  I didnt really help matters by constantly grabbing the cilantro out of the ‘free’ bucket that others couldnt use.  At one point I think we had over 15 bunches of cilantro laying around the house.  Thankfully, preserving this was relatively easy.  All you need to do is take your cilantro and chop it up like normal, then put it in an ice cube tray.  Dont pack it too tightly because you need to make sure that there’s room for the water to get in, but pack it tight.  Once your ice cube tray is full of cilantro, take it and put some water into the tray.  Make sure to use just a trickle of water, or the pressure will blast all the cilantro out of the tray and you’ll wash it down the drain.  Just let the water trickle in and fill up each box in the tray and place in the freezer.  When ours were done we took them out of the freezer and put them in a plastic bag because it fits better in the freezer.

No Boil Canning

We also made pesto, which could be considered canning because it ended up in a jar, it’s not because all it required was a blender.  You dont need to store your homemade pesto in jars you can put it wherever you want, but we put ours in jars.  While this isnt traditional basil pesto (we didnt get basil in our CSA) it’s still a pesto, and a pretty good one as well.  Like I mentioned earlier, we were inundated with herbs, and parsley was one of them.  Since this isnt perkins and I cant think of many ways to use parsley in recipes, we needed to find a way to do something  with it.  After a while of searching, we found this parsley pesto recipe:

2 cups fresh parsley leaves, rinsed well, roughly chopped, pressed into the measuring cup
1 -2 tablespoon capers
8 -10 green olives, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts (or use macadamias)
2 -3 tablespoons lemon juice (or use lime)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Put all of that together in a blender and go to town.  It’s simple to adjust as well – if you like your pesto a bit thinner, use a bit more olive oil.  Make sure to add it after you’ve got everything blended so you dont end up making it too thin.

Those are all the things that we learned from our CSA last year, and it was nice to find a few things that didnt make quite as big of a mess as canning did (though I do miss the salsa).  Hopefully we can find a new CSA for next year, and hopefully find more interesting ways to put up the leftovers that we cant eat.

Readers: Are you thinking about a CSA this year?  

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3 thoughts on “Preserving your Food Without Canning

  1. Cilantro goes bad so quickly. We get a bunch per week from the grocery store and we use most of it. Freezing it seems like a lot of work for it though. Our little freezer doesn’t have any room either…

  2. I can barely drag myself to the grocery store during this past few terms at grad school, but things should lighten up a little in the Spring, so my goal is to cooking more often. Getting a CSA and freezing my own cilantro sounds a little too ambitious though…

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