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.

Hi from the New UM Dietetic Intern

Hi to all the Farm at St. Joe’s blog readers!

My name is Brooke and I am the new dietetic intern working with the farm for the next two weeks.  I am from a tiny little farming town in Michigan near the thumb.  No, I did not grow up on a farm; however I lived near many, many horse farms.  My parents have always had a garden to grow our own cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and occasionally watermelon; but I never stopped to talk to them about HOW they did it.  All I remember is planting the seeds, watering the garden, and viola here’s some food you can eat!  And oh, how it tastes so good! Some years we would have an over abundance of zucchini, so we would gift zucchini left and right to our friends, family, and people we meet.  It never occurred to me that there is much more that goes into producing and growing your own food.  So here I am now, a dietetic intern who is, like all interns, interested in nutrition and food, but also interested in how to educate others so that they will be able to grow their own healthy food.

I first set foot onto the Farm at St. Joe’s on a cool September morning.  I took a breath and looked around.  I saw the three hoop houses, the trailer, the equipment, the fields.  With a breath of fresh air, I took everything in.  I was going to be here for the next two weeks and I knew that I was going to have an experience unlike any other.  Farmer Dan took me around, orienting me to everything on site–the accessible hoop house with the raised beds and the wheelchair accessible aisles; the rows of tomatoes, peppers, kale, and carrots; the composting pile; the beehives…  As we walked around, we chatted about different farming things, some of which I had to look up later to fully understand (like a tomato blight map).  He told me about the idea behind the accessible hoop house and how it is meant for a type of recreational therapy and that there is a Farmer’s Market inside St. Joe’s main hospital.

And let me just say this: I am completely awestruck!!

St. Joe's Farm at the Farmer's Market

Look at all the color–Swiss chard, carrots, collard greens!