Too Much Fresh Produce?

Hi again blogreaders!

I was thinking that now is the time when you may (or may not) have too MUCH fresh produce and you are either trying to gift to strangers or thinking it’ll all have to go into your compost pile… well I may have a better idea:

how about storing it for the upcoming winter??  

Now is definitely the time for harvesting and honestly, you have to get it when it’s good. But, you may be hesitant because you don’t know what to do with it. Honestly, I own a small deep-freezer and found it to be an excellent way to store most of my food so that I can have farm-fresh produce all year round!

I especially wanted to focus on how to freeze and store greens like collard greens, kale, spinach, and even Swiss chard.  If you have ever frozen fresh produce before, the method is pretty similar across the board: blanch, ice-bath, package, and freeze. I’ll go through the process with a bit more detail though.

For preparing to freeze greens you will need:

  1. Fresh greens you wish to store
  2. Large pot of boiling water, 2/3 of the way full
  3. A bowl filled with ice and cold water
  4. Strainer
  5. Vacuum food sealer or ziploc freezer bags for storage
  • Before you begin with the fresh greens itself, I find it easiest to set a pot on the stove to begin boiling the water and prepare the bowl for the ice and cold water.
  • First, you will want to use fresh, crisp greens.  Wash them first before you use them and then you can choose to prepare them whatever way you would like (tearing them into smaller pieces; chopping them; dicing; etc).  You will want to remove any tough stems and damaged pieces.
  • Then, with the water at a good boil you will blanch the greens by placing them into the boiling water for a few minutes (2-3 minutes).  The blanching process can counter the aging process in the plant allowing it to stay for a pretty long time.
  • After the 2-3 minutes in the boiling water, you will want to scoop the greens into the ice and water bowl.  Generally, you will give them a cold-bath for the same amount of time as the blanching process.
  • After the greens have bathed in the cold water for the allotted time, you are able to place them into your storage bags.  I like to use smaller ziplock bags for easy use after they are frozen and then place the smaller bags into a large freezer bag.  Once you have as much air out of the bags as possible upon sealing the bag,  you can place them in the freezer and you are DONE!  You can leave greens in the freezer for about a year, just don’t forget about them!
    • Note: you can use a strainer for any of these steps where you have to remove greens from the water.

If you want more information, you are welcome to visit this site for freezing fresh greens.

If you wanted to freeze other fresh produce, usually a rule of thumb is the thicker the vegetable itself, the longer (but not by much) it’ll have to blanched.  I’ve found that zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, and carrots are all easy and last to the freezing process. This website has a pretty good list of how to do other vegetables and this one will tell you how to long to blanch those vegetables.

Late fall update from The Farm

Hoophouse 2 is growing with salad mix, scallions, kale, arugula, spinach, kale, chard, beets, and carrots.

The garlic is planted outdoors at the farm, and we are now ready for the snow and ice of winter to come. It is a time of reflection, planning, and hunkering down at The Farm at St. Joe’s.

It’s hard to believe that this is our third fall at The Farm at St. Joe’s. This fall we have a third hoophouse that is being retrofit to be handicap accessible and this be patient focused. This is an exciting project in partnership with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and Eisenhower Center. Stop by in March to see some innovative hoophouse production with a therapeutic twist.

Work on The Farm this fall has been getting accomplished in part with the help of the Washtenaw County ISD Young Adult Program. This group of 5 young adults help out for two hours each Thursday morning rain or shine or cold.

Farmer Dan has been also getting farm hand support from Eastern Michigan University dietetic intern Garnet Bruell. Garnet has been helping around the farm to prepare garlic beds, plant garlic, weed, water, and rip tomato plants. Garnet is also helping behind the scenes to help build organizational capacity for The Farm.

The Farm has been visited by two tour group this past month, one organized by FSEP, which was a group of food service employees from Ypsilanti Public Schools and one group of professionals for an event called “Eating Healthy Day” organized by The American Heart Association. The Farm is happy to give your group a tour. Just email bairdz@trinity-health.org.

We always welcome visitors. Stop by and say to Farmer Dan and the winter vegetables.

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