Process, Process, Process.

We’re always encouraging folks to get more than they think they need and then process it for later. Make a double batch of Chicken/Turkey Chard Chili (https://bgproduce.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/corn-potato-and-pepper-soup/) and freeze some of it, get 6 extra ears of corn and freeze them, purchase an extra pint of cherry tomatoes and dry them, pick up some rosemary to dry, or buy a bucket of tomatoes and can them. Whether in large quantities like we do or in smaller quantities to fit quaint space, the point is to do it so you can savor the local flavor for more than just the summer.

Today I made a double batch of Chicken Chard Chili using Ripley Farms onions, our garlic, Hanisch Farms ground chicken (you can special order ground chicken and turkey in 1 lb bags), our frozen corn, Swiss chard harvested yesterday, organic beans, and homemade turkey stock. We will have some for dinner tonight and I will freeze the rest for this Fall. If you don’t want to make and freeze the chili, then blanch and freeze the Swiss chard to use, not only in this chili, but also in soups, pastas, layered potato and chard gratins…the list is endless. Any recipe that calls for frozen spinach, substitute frozen Swiss chard.

ChickChardChili

Sweet corn is in season and the second best way to eat it is from a frozen bag you did yourself. Here’s a simple trick we tried last year. Don’t cook the corn. Just shuck, slice kernels from cob, and freeze. We think it’s better than the cooked method. And, considering we bagged fifty plus quart-size bags last year, I’d take our word for it.

Herbs are also at their peak this time of year.  Basil is unusually cheap (at the Farmers’ Market, anyway) so pick up a few bags and make basil oil or pesto to freeze. To make basil oil, simply blend basil and olive oil until a thick paste forms. Pour into ice cube trays or in small portions into freezer bags. Add into pizza sauce, soups, or chili throughout the year. You can make pesto, but omit the Parmesan, and freeze. Once thawed, stir your Parmesan in. Another really simple thing to do with herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage) is to dry them. I do this by hanging them in a closet to dry, then putting the dried herbs into small glass containers. Buy a few bunches of parsley to chop and freeze. Be sure to keep the stems in a freezer bag in the freezer for your next homemade stock. Local herbs year round.

By late August and early September, people are typically drowning in tomatoes. Be sure to eat plenty of them while they’re fresh (https://bgproduce.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/fresh-tomatoes-burrata/), but also be sure to process as many as you possibly can. Today, I dried a bunch of cherry tomatoes and sliced Cherokee Purple tomatoes. We will freeze them and rehydrate as needed for use as sun-dried tomatoes. You can wash and freeze whole tomatoes for use in sauces later in the year (https://bgproduce.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/shrimp-in-tomato-sauce/). Canning tomatoes, whether in a water bath or in the oven (sealed jars on a sheet tray, 275 degree oven, 1 1/2 hrs – takes up to 2 hrs for jars to seal once removed from oven), will help you create all sorts of tasty treats during inclement weather.

Tomatoes

Grated zucchini and summer squash make a really tasty canned relish to use on hot dogs and brats, in tuna salad, or mixed into a pea salad. Buy zucchini now, shred and freeze to use in casseroles, quick bread, or muffins later. Tiny zucchini and summer squash make excellent pickles. We like them so much, we don’t pickle cucumbers anymore.

But, if we’re not pickling cucumbers, what are we doing with them? We have found a spicy cucumber relish which is similar to the zucchini relish mentioned above.

Chop and freeze onions and green peppers for soup and chili. Slice onions and peppers, saute with fajita seasoning, then freeze for quick fajitas in January!

Half and seed jalapenos, then freeze. You can make cream cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped jalapenos any time of the year!

Chop and freeze okra, then toss a handful into a chili or soup to naturally thicken. I like to add some to my Chicken/Turkey Chard Chili to add a silky texture.

Roast and freeze winter squash for fast and creamy soups in December. Winter squash puree can also add a sneaky vegetable and surprising creaminess to your next Macaroni & Cheese dinner. Or, make homemade ravioli!

Once pumpkin season hits, do not toss the seeds. Pull them straight from the pumpkin and put them in freezer bags. Don’t wash off the gunk. That will be the best part, guaranteed, once you defrost and roast them in March.

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