Here at the end of the summer vegetable growing season, I am wondering what all the stuff is in the freezer! Mostly, my produce from the garden and the farmers market have found their way into cans or dishes already. But, the herbs, fruits and veggies are easily frozen ~ and they are taking over my freezer! Better than having them go bad in the fridge or on the counter.
When I look into the freezer in my kitchen, I have quite a large number of ziploc bags with herbs, as well as fruits. I freeze whole leaves of basil, dill, chives, parsley, celery leaves and pesto made in ice cube trays. As long as you squeeze out a lot of air, these will last a long time even though this usually does not last very long in my house! In my spare freezer, I have whole tomatoes, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, shredded zucchini, a gaggle of blueberries we picked this summer (I did not grow these!), and fresh frozen corn and peaches from the farmers markets. I often don’t remember that there are things in my freezer which is a real issue at times!
To make the growing season even longer, I believe it is imperative to prepare for the "off-season" and put up veggies for the winter months. I have been doing this for so long, it is just a natural thing for me to do. Turns out, I still have some canned sauce from 2005. (I believe I am tossing that one!) I did just make chili this week with some of my 2011 tomato crop and it was great. If you DO can fresh produce/jellies/jams, you should use up your canned goods within 12 months of canning. So DATE your jars/lids so you know when you canned them.
Same with when you freeze fresh food! I have finally figured out how to label my frozen herbs: instead of using a Sharpie on the outside or a piece of freezer tape on the outside of the ziploc bag, I put a piece of note paper inside with the herb and the date/year it was harvested! This way, I can toss the old ones prior to storing the next year’s crop! GENIUS!!
Anyway, you can still think about putting some food away for the months to come! You can still buy fantastic basil at the farmers market at Lake Anne! You can make pepper jelly, can sliced hot peppers, make applesauce or apple butter, make late season vegetable pickles or can beets. There are also time to make chutneys or green tomato relish! The potential is ENDLESS!! Give it a try, if you can find the time! You will enjoy your handiwork for many months AND the jars can serve as a wonderful gift to family and friends around holiday time!!
Go For It!!