Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Preserving

Yesterday I did some harvesting in the morning. I took out the whole carrot bed. I was going to leave some in to get bigger as the Sugarsnax really weren't big at all yet. They had their length, but some were only just over a pencil width wide. Some were better and the size of my thumb. But Sugarsnax can get large. An inch is pretty normal and I've pulled out even larger. But the carrot flies had started to attack. Some roots were already getting damaged. I don't cover the spring crop as I usually can get one without the cover. But it is always a race to see which come first. And the carrots were good enough. Sadly though the Sugarsnax had that bitter aftertaste of a summer carrot. The Mokums this year did not (though last year they did). I'll save the Mokums for fresh eating and the Sugarsnax will get cooked. Even with small carrots it is quite a bit, so I packed all the carrots into some plastic boxes in the fridge. They will keep all summer as I use them up. I love that carrots last forever.

I picked some peas and basil. I preserve basil three way. I mix it with olive oil and puree and freeze. I dry it. And I just toss to leaves fresh into bags and freeze. Basil that is frozen this way will stay green until it is thawed then it turns black. But the taste of basil is still there. So it isn't good of you need it to look nice, but it is super easy and many times when you cook with it, the color doesn't really matter.

Last year I got three pounds of fava beans. The year before I got four. This year for some reason I've gotten over 15 pounds. I'm not sure what the difference is, except the black aphids didn't attack this year too much. I have had some aphids, but not many. Yesterday over 11 pounds were picked. They all needed to be shelled. Then the inner bean needed peeling. I know that in some cultures the bean coat is eaten, but I find them so much better peeled. But the work is huge. And you can't wait long to do this. So I turned on the TV and started shelling.

As I shell I separate the ones that I feel are a bit over ripe. To me the texture is a bit gritty compared to the younger ones. To be honest I never know when to pick. I can feel. I can see how big the pod is. But none of that really tells me. I won't know until the pod is opened. Beans that hold on to their attachment to the pod are still young enough for me. The others I put into a different jar. I'll still eat them, but in a different way.

Eleven pounds of pods turned into four and a half quarts of beans. The other quart you don't see was in the fridge.

Once I have the bean out I blanch them for two minutes in alkaline water. I make the water alkaline with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda. Many recommendations say one teaspoon, but our water is pretty acidic to start with and I find 1 1/2 works better. When I take them out of the boiling water, I rinse very well before putting them in ice water to cool. I want all that soda off. At this point I'm guessing some of you want to know why I use alkaline water. It breaks down the cell walls. So for the most part you don't have to peel the bean. You press at the part where it was attached to the pod and it pops right out. Many of the bean coats will have split open during the blanching. Occasionally I'll have to use my fingernail to start a hole, but rarely. And the blanching is good because I've frozen most of these beans.

And this is how much I have left after getting rid of the outer shell. Two quarts. It is a lot of work for two quarts of beans.

The younger beans will be smooth and buttery. The older ones I find a little gritty. So I make dip out of them. I don't use a recipe, but it is basically hummus without the tahini and cumin. So it has beans, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper all blended together. And oh is it good.

This morning the chore was to clear out the garlic bed. It could have used another week. I had one dried leaf at the bottom and another one starting to dry out, but that is it. But better early than late. If you wait too long the bulbs will start to split open and they won't store. Today I'm drying them outside. But either this evening or tomorrow morning I'll bundle them up and put them in our bike shed to dry for two to three weeks. Then they will get trimmed up.

The other big harvest was my broccoli. I could have picked it earlier, but I really like a slightly more mature head. I saved enough for dinner tonight and the rest got blanched and frozen. I'm working on vacuum sealing them. I've found my vacuum sealer needs to rest after doing four bags, or it won't vacuum.


  1. Your must really like those fava beans to do all that work! At least they don't tempt me! You will need a vacation!! Have a great 4th! Nancy

  2. I got curious as to why things turn black when thawed, and I found a web page that said blanch before freezing to deactivate enzymes that cause a color change. I'm not sure what blanching basil would do to it, reduce it to cooked basil?

    1. I've heard of people blanching basil before they make pesto because it makes the color a brighter green. So I'm guessing blanching would work. I've never tried it.

  3. Nice that you have carrots so early! My first planting really didn't make it at all, so I won't see any for some time yet. Have never tried fava beans, but yours look great and make me want to!

  4. Goodness! You have been really busy. Those fava beans look beautiful but I always think that they are rather a pain to harvest and shell. Probably why I just never seem to get around to growing them. I do like to eat them though and that bean dip looks simply scrumptious!

  5. Fantastic produce and such bounty to preserve. And a very cute carrot!