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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monday's Processing

Despite the abnormally high temperatures, extreme humidity and torrential thunderstorms, my gardens are thriving and blessing us with an abundance of produce. Yesterday, I decided to freeze zucchini and can beans despite the heat. The garden is producing fast enough that I don't want any produce to go to waste.

Zucchini

I have five zucchini plants growing this year. They will likely just keep up with our family's needs for the following year. Some of course goes to friends and neighbours but a lot is preserved in one form or another. I've always thought zucchini gets a bad rap. I've never understood why as it is such a versatile vegetable. We eat a lot of fresh zucchini when it is in season and I preserve what I can to get us through to the next growing season.


Zucchini Chunks

Three zucchini were quarter then cut into chunks and placed into three bowls. The chunks were blanched 2 minutes then cooled in ice water and drained. Blanching is necessary to stop enzyme action in the vegetables. Once drained the chunks were vacuum sealed using a Rival Seal-a-Meal. Vacuum sealing ensures a nice freezer burn free product. I like to vacuum seal in meal sized pouches for later use.

Shredded Zucchini

Shredded zucchini is one of our freezer staples. I use it in quick breads, yeast breads, muffins, meatloaf, and casseroles. A food processor makes quick work of shredding. The shredded zucchini is then steam blanched for 2 minutes and cooled in ice water. I vacuum sealed the shredded zucchini in one cup measurements. This is a convenient size for most recipes. This mini-session yielded eight one cup packages so I will have to do a few more sessions.

I'm going to be trying a few new things with zucchini this year. Zucchini can be dried then ground to a powder to use in soups and stews as a flavour enhancer and thickener. As soon as the heat breaks, I'm going make up some zucchini powder. I plan on drying it in chip form then processing in the food processor. I also want to try canning tomatoes and zucchini together likely as a semi chunky tomato sauce perhaps with mushrooms and onions as well. This of course would be pressure canned.


Beans

The bush beans have been producing nicely with the pole beans just starting. I tried a couple of new varieties. The yellow wax beans are tasty but not very proliferic. The royal burgundy bush beans are more of a novelty. They turn green when cooked, sort of a built in timer. The slenderetts are a nice looking and tasting green bush bean. They are a good freezer variety. I froze a about four quarts. These were good producers for me this year so I really wanted to know how well they would can.

Canned Beans

I did up three jars of slendettes and one jar of yellow wax beans. It really wasn't enough to run the canner as I prefer processing at least a half canner load full. The slenderettes were ready now and now signs of a lot more coming so I decided to go ahead and can then. These are a smaller bean than Kentucky Wonders, my favourite for canning. So the jars are just a little lighter but at least they will give me a comparison. Kentucky Wonders are pole beans. They are about eight inches long and ideal for canning! I should have enough pole beans for another canning session by the weekend.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are making a great start! The picture is of Sunday and Monday's tomato harvest. I picked almost that much again today along with the first better sized beefsteak tomato. We've already had BLTs! My husband is trilled beyond belief. Now if I can just keep him out of the tomato beds. I made an entry on my gardening blog about tomatoes and the amount I've been picking. I think I have enough for Savoury Yellow Tomato Spread. This is a dipping sauce for chicken fingers or spreading on barbequed fish. Many of the near future entries will focus on how I preserve and use produce from the garden.


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