By Jimmy Deaton
Here it is almost September and I bet most of you all, like us, are getting more vegetables than you can consume at this point in time. For us, the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are still pumping out loads of fresh produce. The beans are starting to come in so it’s time to think about preserving some of this for winter’s consumption.
We use a variety of methods depending on what the vegetable is. For the sunflowers we’ll roast the seeds in the oven either plain, with some sea salt or various spices depending on the mood. These will be stored in quart glass containers. For the beans we like to grow them out till the pods are dry. Then we store the shelled beans in glass containers to use for soups and stews. Tomatoes and peppers are simply sliced into1 inch thick slices, placed onto a cookie sheet and partially frozen. Angie then vacuum seals them into freezer bags and into the freezer they go. These are great for using in stews/soups or stir-fry’s but can’t be used in salads or on sandwiches. The cucumbers, and peppers can also be pickled along with other vegetables as well. One of our favorites for the hot peppers is to make what is called “cowboy candy”. You can find recipes on the internet and they go great with some cream cheese and crackers.
For those of you who wish to do canning with the extra produce please DO NOT cut any corners when doing so. Doing so can pose great risks to your health or worse. I highly recommend the book “Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving” as well as the website sbcanning.com. They have a Facebook page as well and the folks will not steer you wrong.
Another method we like for the hot peppers is to dry them. I’ll cut the tops off and then slice them in half length wise and let them dry naturally in the sun. If you do this bring them in at night and they’ll be ready for storage when they snap in half with no problem. I like to also put them into the smoker and smoke them for a few hours. They are usually dry in 4-6 hours if smoked at 225 degrees. These are great for adding a little smoky flavor to your recipe or in our case we use them in our product Jax’s Wing Rub which pairs nicely with a peach bbq sauce and will have your family and friends envious of your grilling skills.
A few things folks may wish to start considering is getting ready to put the cool season vegetables into production. Kale, spinach, cabbage, peas, salad greens, collards, radishes are just a few that can be grown now that the cool season weather will soon be upon us. Angie’s favorite is kale which she uses to make kale chips. For myself it has to be spinach – preferably in the baby stage – which I use for the base of my salads.
In next month’s issue I will touch base on the vegetables/fruits that we grow inside in the basement during the cold winter months. We do salad greens, along with patio tomatoes, as well as limes and lemons. Yes, you read that right….tomatoes, limes and lemons. Stay tuned for the adventure.