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s/o preserving perishables foods


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In another thread, @Dreamergal said:
 

“Freeze perishables which are absolutely essential and cook from them while topping regularly. In the beginning I was running out of these very fast and panicking as my cooking starts with onion, ginger and garlic. Now DH processes them and I cook from the freezer and top up. Nutrition value does suffer I guess, but my mental health is worth a few nutrition less points I figure.

Freeze eggs. 

Buy a chest freezer. 

Grow your own food like herbs and salad leaves. If I can do it anyone can.“

I’m wondering if we can talk more about this. I’ve built a good stock pile of non-perishables, but I’m struggling to figure out how to keep perishables preserved for later without needing to delve into something more complicated like canning. Our garden is producing more than we can eat currently, as we also get produce from a  CSA right now. We freeze tomatoes, but I don’t know what to do with greens, beets, or brassicas. Zucchini I know I can shred and freeze, but at the rate those plants produce, my chest freezer will be full of nothing but zucchini. Peas and green beans we eat as fast is the plant produces, so that’s no problem. Oh, we have a lot of onions as well.

I did not know that you can freeze eggs. Do you mean just like put the whole carton in the freezer?? For some reason that’s hard to imagine. They don’t expand and crack the shells? I’m guessing you probably mean some thing else. I’ve heard you can freeze cartons of milk, but I haven’t tried that, either. Cheese?

I’d love to hear tips and advice on preserving food easily. We do have a stand-alone freezer in the garage. 

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I have heard eggs can be frozen, but I haven't had success with it.  I end up with rubbery icky yolks.  So I dunno.

Onions are easy.  Chop/dice, lay out on a sheet tray to freeze, once frozen, package up in your chosen measurement and container.  Use for cooking just like you would any other onion (Ok, well actually, that's for regular bulb onions, not like green onions/scallions.  I don't use those enough to warrant freezing.)

I can't speak to to greens, my veggie hating kids don't do greens so I don't have a reason to freeze them.  I can say that lighter/water heavy greens like ice burg lettuce and such....those don't freeze.  I am pretty sure the heartier stuff like Kale and such can be, but I don't know how.

Cauliflower, cabbage etc, you would blanch then freeze.  So chop into the florets, bring your water to a boil, drop your veggies in for a couple of minutes (the broccoli I froze from the garden, I did for 3 minutes) then immediately drop into the ice bath.  Once cooled, towel dry then freeze.  I have cooked up broccoli I have frozen then way (we at the cauliflower to fast to end up needing to freeze it.)  and it was totally yummy, even better than a steamy bag from the store.  

Zukes....I find it easier to freeze (and consume) products MADE with zukes, rather than the zukes themselves.  So, zuke muffins, zuke pancakes, etc. Which, yeah, takes up more space, but since the work of cooking it up is already done, makes the stuff I put in the freezer more convenient for me. 

Milk.....I have frozen it in the past, but really, I wouldn't do it unless I was doing it to cook with.  My experience with freezing milk is that the fat tends to...clump I guess is the word...just a little, and while it's still perfectly drinkable, it does, to me, change the texture just a bit and I don't like the look of those tiny bits of milk fat floating around.  Plus, freezing whole gallons takes up lots of space, awkwardly, and at this point, I don't want to deal with the work of figuring out a more space saving way to freeze what is generally a cost effective and easy product to get a hold of fresh.

Cheese....cheese is super easy.   First, it's totally possible to just toss the blocks of cheese that you buy into the freezer.  It will be edible.  The thing about cheese is....each kind works best with a different kind of freezing.  For example, if I get a block of regular old Kraft 8z mozz, I can toss that in the freezer, then when I am ready to make pizza, stick it in the fridge then after it's thawed a little, just shredd in the food processor and toss on pizza.  It will be rather crumbly, but for pizza, it doesn't matter.

But if I want cheddar and munster for grilled cheese, it's going to be better to slice those first, lay the slices out, then freeze and bag up.  

 

I have this book

https://www.amazon.com/Ball-Blue-Book-Guide-Preserving/dp/0972753702

and yeah, it's mostly about canning, but it also gives lots of information about freezing and dehydrating too.  I don't have a canner, and don't want to mess with figuring out canning.   But freezing and dehydrating....I do quite a bit of both of those.  

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Noooo don’t freeze them in the carton! Crack them into muffin tray or some other type of silicone tray. You can buy IP type silicone trays for eggs specifically. I got some of those and they work well. Put the silicone trays on a cookie sheet, crack the eggs into each slot, then put them in the freezer for a day or two. Then pop them out into freezer bags. 
 

You can freeze milk in the plastic gallon jugs. I am not sure about paper. I usually pour out a cup or so to allow for expansion. When you need it try and plan ahead a day or two and move it to the fridge. Shake it periodically. 
 

Sour cream will change texture if you freeze it. Butter freezes fine. So does bread. Just chunk it in there in it’s original packaging. 

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3 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Noooo don’t freeze them in the carton! Crack them into muffin tray or some other type of silicone tray. You can buy IP type silicone trays for eggs specifically. I got some of those and they work well. Put the silicone trays on a cookie sheet, crack the eggs into each slot, then put them in the freezer for a day or two. Then pop them out into freezer bags. 
 

You can freeze milk in the plastic gallon jugs. I am not sure about paper. I usually pour out a cup or so to allow for expansion. When you need it try and plan ahead a day or two and move it to the fridge. Shake it periodically. 
 

Sour cream will change texture if you freeze it. Butter freezes fine. So does bread. Just chunk it in there in it’s original packaging. 

I have frozen OJ in the paper cartons and it works totally fine.  I don't even pour any out.  But I don't buy paper milk cartons so I dunno about those.  

And butter, I don't know that it even needs to be frozen.  Butter lasts SO long that unless I need the fridge space, I wouldn't think to put it in the freezer.  I tend to buy like 5 to 10 lbs of butter at a time (when it's on sale at Kroger for $2 a lb) and just toss it in the fridge, it lasts months and months.  (actually, I don't know if butter *can* go bad....generally.  I am sure there are things that can make it go bad but generally it lasts pretty long doesn't it?)

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2 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

 

And butter, I don't know that it even needs to be frozen.  Butter lasts SO long that unless I need the fridge space, I wouldn't think to put it in the freezer.  I tend to buy like 5 to 10 lbs of butter at a time (when it's on sale at Kroger for $2 a lb) and just toss it in the fridge, it lasts months and months.  (actually, I don't know if butter *can* go bad....generally.  I am sure there are things that can make it go bad but generally it lasts pretty long doesn't it?)

I don't know if I should admit this publicly but when butter goes on sale I buy about 50 pounds at a time.  We go through a couple of pounds a week.  Butter can go rancid but what I really find when using long term storage in the fridge, is that is starts to pick up tastes/oders from the the fridge.  So I only keep 4-6 pounds in the fridge at a time and the rest goes into the freezer.

OP, there is so much you can preserve but it all comes down to how much effort you are willing to put into it.  I don't find canning to be that difficult but I've been doing it for many years.  For instance I can tomatoes,  I need about 80-90 quarts to get through the year.  That takes me 2 days to put up.  THen I spend one more day doing the year's worth of salsa.  Applesauce takes one more full day and pears takes me a half day.  So I dedicate 4.5 days a year to canning and I've got my whole supply for the year done.  But if you don't want to can, freezing, dehydrating, pickling and fermenting are pretty much your choices. Some things are very easy.  I buy blueberries when they are on sale, rinse them off, spread them on a towel, sort through to remove bads ones and stems and then scoop them up into a ziplock bag and stick them in the freezer.  I spend maybe 3 hours a year and freeze about 50 pounds.  Refrigerator pickling is also pretty easy, I've done beans and onions.  This year I might try cucumbers (usually we eat them all fresh so I don't have enough to preserve).

But really there is so much that can be done, that really I think you'd do better doing some research on "ways to preserve x" because it's such a broad topic that you could learn far more than we could cover here.

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When my garden produces a lot of chard or spinach (beet greens would work) I chop it a bit and jam it into a zip lock style, quart size bag. Then I use it like I would a 10oz block of frozen spinach, usually in stuffed meatloaf, soup, or my grandma's recipe for Shi-Gum-Chi Na-Mool.

I freeze butter because fridge space is a at a premium.

I agree with happy smiley about the texture of frozen dairy.

I freeze zucchini in recipe size portions because I'm also limited on freezer space. When I bake, though, I try to double the recipe and store a batch of the baked product for a bit.

Eggs last a very long time in the fridge, if you have room.

Chives I have chooped and dried in the microwave, but I've not tried green onions. This was many years ago, but we got so many chives that I chopped them and used the microwave to dry them and then used those measure for measure in place of green onions all winter.

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We've been blanching and freezing veggies. They won't be good for eating raw, but are fine cooked. Last year my uncle brought out a ton of corn on the cob, so we partially cooked it and cut each in half, sealed it in bags of 8 mini ears. It was a treat to have with dinner over the winter! The frozen mini ears in the supermarket are a fortune and don't taste as good. We vacuum seal all of the veggies and meats that we freeze - it makes a big difference in quality. Kale and spinach I just wash and freeze but it's only good for smoothies - the leaves crumble up into tiny pieces. I've also been freezing my microgreens for smoothies. We do a lot of freezer cooking, which uses up a good amount of the veggies we have on hand. (Luckily we have a huge freezer!) I also dehydrate herbs, or freeze in cubes. (Some friends make infused oils with extra herbs but I've never tried it.) I've been thinking of dehydrating some veggies too, and maybe some greens. If you don't have freezer space it may be a good option for you. If you're planning on freezing milk, empty out a half cup or so first. The plastic can crack when it expands. We are still freezing milk since finding a local dairy that delivers. We get 6-8 gallons every two weeks. We also keep a lot of butter on hand, so that also gets frozen. Dh froze some sour cream for recipes. It's not good to use plain at all though. We've talked about getting into canning, but I'm not really interested at the moment. I only have so much energy for kitchen tasks lately - if I feel better next year I may try it.

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5 minutes ago, cjzimmer1 said:

I don't know if I should admit this publicly but when butter goes on sale I buy about 50 pounds at a time.  We go through a couple of pounds a week.  Butter can go rancid but what I really find when using long term storage in the fridge, is that is starts to pick up tastes/oders from the the fridge.  So I only keep 4-6 pounds in the fridge at a time and the rest goes into the freezer.

Oh, goodness, yeah, I don't have the money to buy 50lbs at a time lol.  I will say though that the $2 a lb price at Kroger, I find that happens about every 4 to 6 weeks.  And we do go through a pound or two a week.  So if I buy between 5 and 10 lbs, that generally lasts me until the next sale at Kroger.  

I don't find that it it picks up too many tastes/odors, but I really only use the the sticks for cooking  (if I want to spread it I get a tub.)  And....I keep it in an upper corner of the fridge, there's not much else there than sits too long.  

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1 minute ago, happysmileylady said:

Oh, goodness, yeah, I don't have the money to buy 50lbs at a time lol.  I will say though that the $2 a lb price at Kroger, I find that happens about every 4 to 6 weeks.  And we do go through a pound or two a week.  So if I buy between 5 and 10 lbs, that generally lasts me until the next sale at Kroger.  

I don't find that it it picks up too many tastes/odors, but I really only use the the sticks for cooking  (if I want to spread it I get a tub.)  And....I keep it in an upper corner of the fridge, there's not much else there than sits too long.  

We only get the $2.00 price when Aldi runs specials at Christmas time.  I wouldn't need to buy so much at a time if we had regular sales.  But to my knowledge there aren't any Krogers in my state.  And the grocery store with the best prices, doesn't run advertised sales.  Hyvee puts limits of 1 or 2 on everything and since their prices for everything else is so high, it's not worth a trip there when I can only buy a couple of sale items.

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9 minutes ago, cjzimmer1 said:

For instance I can tomatoes,  I need about 80-90 quarts to get through the year.  That takes me 2 days to put up.  THen I spend one more day doing the year's worth of salsa.  Applesauce takes one more full day and pears takes me a half day.  So I dedicate 4.5 days a year to canning and I've got my whole supply for the year done.  But if you don't want to can, freezing, dehydrating, pickling and fermenting are pretty much your choices. Some things are very easy.  I buy blueberries when they are on sale, rinse them off, spread them on a towel, sort through to remove bads ones and stems and then scoop them up into a ziplock bag and stick them in the freezer.  I spend maybe 3 hours a year and freeze about 50 pounds.  Refrigerator pickling is also pretty easy, I've done beans and onions.  This year I might try cucumbers (usually we eat them all fresh so I don't have enough to preserve).

I freeze tomatoes.  The process is basically the same in terms of the blanching and freezing and dicing.....I just put them in freezer containers and freeze instead of going through the canning process.  Same with salsa, applesauce etc.  

And don't get me wrong, I have *NOTHING* against canning.  I just don't have the energy to do the extra step lol.  I do the batches of applesauce or tomatoes or salsa, or tomato sauce, then I just stick in a container and freeze rather than can.  My mom however does the canning process quite a bit more.  She has the canner, the equipment, and the shelf space for the canned/jarred items.  On the other hand....I have 2 freezers, but really no place to put extra shelves.  And I have two freezers because we get a portion of a pig and a cow each year and when we first get it.....we HAVE to have that freezer space.  But as we eat that down, we just have more freezer space than shelf space.

I have a blueberry farm right near me, I am going to pick blueberries on Sunday in fact.  I freeze quarts and quarts of those suckers and they are SO SO good.

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4 minutes ago, cjzimmer1 said:

We only get the $2.00 price when Aldi runs specials at Christmas time.  I wouldn't need to buy so much at a time if we had regular sales.  But to my knowledge there aren't any Krogers in my state.  And the grocery store with the best prices, doesn't run advertised sales.  Hyvee puts limits of 1 or 2 on everything and since their prices for everything else is so high, it's not worth a trip there when I can only buy a couple of sale items.

Yeah, and that's part of how everyone has to work with what they have and how the situation works best for them.  If I had to buy 50lb at a time in order to get the best deal, I would probably be freezing it too, just for the fridge space lol.  

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3 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I freeze tomatoes.  The process is basically the same in terms of the blanching and freezing and dicing.....I just put them in freezer containers and freeze instead of going through the canning process.  Same with salsa, applesauce etc.  

And don't get me wrong, I have *NOTHING* against canning.  I just don't have the energy to do the extra step lol.  I do the batches of applesauce or tomatoes or salsa, or tomato sauce, then I just stick in a container and freeze rather than can.  My mom however does the canning process quite a bit more.  She has the canner, the equipment, and the shelf space for the canned/jarred items.  On the other hand....I have 2 freezers, but really no place to put extra shelves.  And I have two freezers because we get a portion of a pig and a cow each year and when we first get it.....we HAVE to have that freezer space.  But as we eat that down, we just have more freezer space than shelf space.

I have a blueberry farm right near me, I am going to pick blueberries on Sunday in fact.  I freeze quarts and quarts of those suckers and they are SO SO good.

I'd totally freeze too if I had the freezer space.  But I don't have the freezer space even with 2 freezers.  I buy a half a beef each year (and this year I bought pig too).  So Feb/Mar, I'm about half way through the produce so the freezers get filled with the year's meat.  July/Aug, i'm about half way through the meat and then the freezer gets stocked with fruits (strawberry, blueberry, grapes, peaches) and veggies (zucchini, kale, peppers).  But that's about all the space I've got.  I would love to get a 3rd freezer but just never had the space for it.  This year when I finally figured out where I could squeeze another one in, is of course the year that freezers are pretty much unavailable.  

My mom taught me how to can but now she just freezes,  WIth just her and my dad she doesn't have the need to store nearly as much food as I do. 

Blueberries are probably my most favorite fruit ever.  My family used to sell produce and we would go to Michigan twice a week and bring back stuff to sell.  My dad would laugh because I'd eat so many blueberries, they had to designate one box as "my" box each trip because it would never be full weight when we got home. My kids love to eat them frozen so I stock up as much as I can fit (but that is pretty much my criteria with everything - stock as much I can fit because in a few days, they kids will have already put a dent in it).

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We had no clue how to freeze anything. HGTV has a giant section on how to freeze stuff.

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/freezing-vegetables

DH is the one that processes our produce mostly. He used to make a lot of things like making me little garlic oil balls, now he just peels them and shoves them in a ziplock bag or small containers we used to store we made for DD when she was a baby. I just run them under warm water and then crush them in a mortar and pestle. Very rarely use one of those thin graters. 

Herbs he uses this method if we do not have them growing in our herb garden or we need more. We go through a lot of herbs.

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/4-ways-to-freeze-fresh-herbs

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/can-you-freeze-garlic-cloves

Tomatoes is another staple I use

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/freezing-tomatoes

I make a lot of cheesecake, so I freeze cream cheese. I make ghee so I freeze butter. I make bread and freeze.I have not figured out how to freeze milk, but I have lots of milk powder. I must find out ways to make yogurt from milk powder though that does not sound appetizing. 

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59 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I have frozen OJ in the paper cartons and it works totally fine.  I don't even pour any out.  But I don't buy paper milk cartons so I dunno about those.  

And butter, I don't know that it even needs to be frozen.  Butter lasts SO long that unless I need the fridge space, I wouldn't think to put it in the freezer.  I tend to buy like 5 to 10 lbs of butter at a time (when it's on sale at Kroger for $2 a lb) and just toss it in the fridge, it lasts months and months.  (actually, I don't know if butter *can* go bad....generally.  I am sure there are things that can make it go bad but generally it lasts pretty long doesn't it?)

I haven't found butter to do great past 6 months in the fridge. It starts getting sort of.....idk, off texture and appearance. I leave a stick in a butter dish on the counter at all times and past the few months in the fridge, it's just not appealing looking when I you put if on the dish, so I chunk it in the freezer until I need a new box, then move it to the fridge.  

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10 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I haven't found butter to do great past 6 months in the fridge. It starts getting sort of.....idk, off texture and appearance. I leave a stick in a butter dish on the counter at all times and past the few months in the fridge, it's just not appealing looking when I you put if on the dish, so I chunk it in the freezer until I need a new box, then move it to the fridge.  

Butter dish ??? No butter bell ? In the Texas heat ??? 🤫

 

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16 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I haven't found butter to do great past 6 months in the fridge. It starts getting sort of.....idk, off texture and appearance. I leave a stick in a butter dish on the counter at all times and past the few months in the fridge, it's just not appealing looking when I you put if on the dish, so I chunk it in the freezer until I need a new box, then move it to the fridge.  

Well, like I said, I only use the sticks for cooking.  Anything for spreading I just buy a tub.  And I don't freeze tubs at all.  

BUT....the only people spreading butter are DH and I....my kids are too picky for that lol.  

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9 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I have AC, lol. My house never gets above 72. Maybe 74 if it hits 100+ outside. 

I have AC too, but I was welcomed to TX with a butter bell and told to use it always because of the weather...😀

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I just learned you can dry herbs in the microwave. Oh my gosh, it’s so easy.

Most veggies I just wash and dice before sticking in the freezer. I don’t bother with blanching. We’ve had a ton of broccoli through the farm share this summer; I just chop up the stalks for broccoli cheddar soup this winter and cut up the heads into usable size florets for cooking our usual way. I wash and chop up greens (kale, spinach, etc) before freezing and use them in everything all winter. Tomatoes I just toss in the freezer whole. Tomatillos I either just freeze whole or sauté down before freezing in ziplock bags. Then I just break off however much I want for tacos, enchiladas, etc. Peppers get diced or julienned and frozen. Blueberries, avocado slices, etc get frozen on a cookie sheet before being tossed into ziplock bags so they don’t stick together. Peas just get shelled and tossed into bags. Garlic scapes get diced before freezing.

I love all these tips. I’ve never frozen eggs because we have so many local farmers, but I’m intrigued and want to try it just in case! 

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9 minutes ago, MEmama said:

I just learned you can dry herbs in the microwave. Oh my gosh, it’s so easy.

Most veggies I just wash and dice before sticking in the freezer. I don’t bother with blanching. We’ve had a ton of broccoli through the farm share this summer; I just chop up the stalks for broccoli cheddar soup this winter and cut up the heads into usable size florets for cooking our usual way. I wash and chop up greens (kale, spinach, etc) before freezing and use them in everything all winter. Tomatoes I just toss in the freezer whole. Tomatillos I either just freeze whole or sauté down before freezing in ziplock bags. Then I just break off however much I want for tacos, enchiladas, etc. Peppers get diced or julienned and frozen. Blueberries, avocado slices, etc get frozen on a cookie sheet before being tossed into ziplock bags so they don’t stick together. Peas just get shelled and tossed into bags. Garlic scapes get diced before freezing.

I love all these tips. I’ve never frozen eggs because we have so many local farmers, but I’m intrigued and want to try it just in case! 

After this mess of cabbage worms I got in the broccoli I grew

IMG_5843[1].JPG

I will never ever freeze cauliflower or broccoli without prepping/blanching first.  And those suckers were HARD to find.  They camouflage so well and even in super white cauliflower they were just hiding out in all the little nooks and crannies.  

(FTR...I won't grow broccoli or cauliflower again....between 1 and done, and all the little wormies....no thank you.)

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Capsicum can be sliced and packed tight into a zip lock bag. Then popped straight into the freezer. I just slice offhowever much I need for a meal. Great for cooking. I do the same with celery, and corn. I stopped blanching as it made the food too soggy. 

Onions can be hung up to keep. They keep for quite a few months like that. 

I dry apples by slicing into rings and putting on drying racks that DH made me. They are hanging from the ceiling above the combustion stove. 

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3 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

I have heard eggs can be frozen, but I haven't had success with it.  I end up with rubbery icky yolks.  So I dunno.

 

I beat eggs before freezing. Just be sure if you're using ziplocs to lay them flat when they freeze. I made the mistake of jamming small bags into a larger bags and they're a frozen mangled mess. 

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2 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I haven't found butter to do great past 6 months in the fridge. It starts getting sort of.....idk, off texture and appearance. I leave a stick in a butter dish on the counter at all times and past the few months in the fridge, it's just not appealing looking when I you put if on the dish, so I chunk it in the freezer until I need a new box, then move it to the fridge.  

I always think butter picks up flavors in the fridge if left more than a month. I take sticks out of the freezer as I need it. 

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To freeze eggs, I have found the best way to do so is to scramble them.  Scramble them and freeze in freezer bags laid flat- write on the bag how many eggs you've scrambled together.  If you have a lot of recipes that use 2/3/4 eggs, that's a great way to freeze them.  You just need to remember to thaw your eggs before use.  I'll freeze 10 scrambled eggs together if I'm wanting eggs for a frittatta for the family.

Freezing affects the texture of cheese.  Works okay if you're going to cook with it, but I wouldn't want to eat cheese that had been frozen and then thawed.

Chop and blanch your greens then freeze them.  Blanching takes just two minutes tops- I love adding chopped kale to soups, stews and pastas all winter long.  Brassicas also get the chop/blanch/freeze treatment/

With excess beets I usually make pickled beets.   I've been thinking though that one could probably roast beets whole, then freeze them when cooled.  When you thaw them, the skins should slip off, and they should slice/cube easily to use in whatever dishes you usually use beets in.  Not sure this actually works, but if I had beets in my garden I would try it. 

Onions and peppers I chop, drop in freezer bags and freeze.  The onions I double bag though or everything in the freezer takes on an onion taste/frangrance.

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20 hours ago, kand said:

In another thread, @Dreamergal said:
 

“Freeze perishables which are absolutely essential and cook from them while topping regularly. In the beginning I was running out of these very fast and panicking as my cooking starts with onion, ginger and garlic. Now DH processes them and I cook from the freezer and top up. Nutrition value does suffer I guess, but my mental health is worth a few nutrition less points I figure.

Freeze eggs. 

Buy a chest freezer. 

Grow your own food like herbs and salad leaves. If I can do it anyone can.“

I’m wondering if we can talk more about this. I’ve built a good stock pile of non-perishables, but I’m struggling to figure out how to keep perishables preserved for later without needing to delve into something more complicated like canning. Our garden is producing more than we can eat currently, as we also get produce from a  CSA right now. We freeze tomatoes, but I don’t know what to do with greens, beets, or brassicas. Zucchini I know I can shred and freeze, but at the rate those plants produce, my chest freezer will be full of nothing but zucchini. Peas and green beans we eat as fast is the plant produces, so that’s no problem. Oh, we have a lot of onions as well.

I did not know that you can freeze eggs. Do you mean just like put the whole carton in the freezer?? For some reason that’s hard to imagine. They don’t expand and crack the shells? I’m guessing you probably mean some thing else. I’ve heard you can freeze cartons of milk, but I haven’t tried that, either. Cheese?

I’d love to hear tips and advice on preserving food easily. We do have a stand-alone freezer in the garage. 

Bear with me.  Think about canning.  You can do it on a very small scale.  It doesn't have to be an overwhelming production and you don't have to rely on fridge/freezer space to preserve food.  I was afraid of it for years because my mother and grandmother did it on such a large scale that it was exhausting to even consider.  However, with the combination of this canning basket, some utensils , and this book I was able to get started just using my large soup pot.  "Canning" seems like hours of sweaty work, but doing it on a small scale, just a few jars at a time, made it just like following another recipe. 

I've still never branched into giant pressure cooker territory, but I can confidently preserve a few jars of strawberry preserves, or pickles, or tomates when the garden is feeling generous and I don't have to set aside a whole day to do it.  Some of my favorite recipes involve sugaring or salting the produce for 24 hours before you can it.  This gives me a break between harvesting, cleaning, and cutting and doing my "canning recipe."  I just learned a few days ago that neglected radishes will produce edible pods that are milder in taste than radishes.  I pickled these with some carrots and lemon cucumbers and will serve them along with sandwiches or cheese and cracker platters.  

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46 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

Bear with me.  Think about canning.  You can do it on a very small scale.  It doesn't have to be an overwhelming production and you don't have to rely on fridge/freezer space to preserve food.  I was afraid of it for years because my mother and grandmother did it on such a large scale that it was exhausting to even consider.  However, with the combination of this canning basket, some utensils , and this book I was able to get started just using my large soup pot.  "Canning" seems like hours of sweaty work, but doing it on a small scale, just a few jars at a time, made it just like following another recipe. 

I've still never branched into giant pressure cooker territory, but I can confidently preserve a few jars of strawberry preserves, or pickles, or tomates when the garden is feeling generous and I don't have to set aside a whole day to do it.  Some of my favorite recipes involve sugaring or salting the produce for 24 hours before you can it.  This gives me a break between harvesting, cleaning, and cutting and doing my "canning recipe."  I just learned a few days ago that neglected radishes will produce edible pods that are milder in taste than radishes.  I pickled these with some carrots and lemon cucumbers and will serve them along with sandwiches or cheese and cracker platters.  

I have always wanted to can things- my grandmother did huge amounts, as they had a farm. I inherited all of her jars. But I am absolutely terrified of doing it incorrectly and botulizing my entire family. 

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Good advice so far except I drink a lot of milk and can’t stand thawed milk.  There used to be a product called concentrated milk that you bought in cartons and mixed 1/3 to 2/3 water to get milk, and that froze well, but milk itself—bleh.

Would like to add—I often freeze the starters to recipes that we like.  For instance, I can make fresh tomato soup and freeze it, but also I can make it up to just before adding the milk and broth and freeze that, and it takes up a lot less space.  I also freeze fully proofed sourdough bread.  Then I move it to the fridge the day before I need it, and bake it on the day of.  That way I can make two loaf batches of dough but only bake one and save the other.  This is indistinguishable from making it fresh.

Also, I have a Sun Oven and this year I finally bit the bullet and bought the drying racks for it and dried some of the apricots from our tree, and they turned out great.  

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We have an overabundance of zucchini this month.

I only have space in the freezer for 2 cup ziploc bags of shredded zucchini.
My recipes all call for 2 cups, & the shredded form freezes fairly well.

My bold (successful) experiment this week has been mixing sliced cukes & zukes for pickling/canning (both for sweet relish & bread/butter pickles).

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39 minutes ago, Beth S said:

We have an overabundance of zucchini this month.

I only have space in the freezer for 2 cup ziploc bags of shredded zucchini.
My recipes all call for 2 cups, & the shredded form freezes fairly well.

My bold (successful) experiment this week has been mixing sliced cukes & zukes for pickling/canning (both for sweet relish & bread/butter pickles).

I dice and saute the extra zucchini in olive oil until half done, cool it and freeze in quart ziplock freezer bags. I dump a bag full of it into recipes that call for lots of veggies.

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

I have a Sun Oven

Do you like your Sun Oven for cooking as well as drying? I have gazed at those online and been tempted so many times, but haven't quite committed. I'm afraid I would never really use it enough to get familiar and comfortable with it.

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1 hour ago, Beth S said:

My bold (successful) experiment this week has been mixing sliced cukes & zukes for pickling/canning (both for sweet relish & bread/butter pickles).

Do you have a refrigerator pickling recipe you want to share? I’ve only done it a couple times, and the first time I really liked the recipe I used, but I could never find the same one again didn’t like the subsequent one as much.

@KungFuPanda has me at least considering the canning. That sounds like a way I could handle it. The all day thing just is overwhelming for me and really doesn’t fit with life for us very well. It’s appealing to not need to use freezer space for some of the stuff.

today I will start with doing me watching the brassicas and freezing thing. I may have some onions ready that I will place up and do that as well.

oh, I’m looking at my Ziploc bags, none of them say they are freezer bags. Does that mean I should not use them?

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44 minutes ago, Innisfree said:

Do you like your Sun Oven for cooking as well as drying? I have gazed at those online and been tempted so many times, but haven't quite committed. I'm afraid I would never really use it enough to get familiar and comfortable with it.

You know, it’s one of those things that I don’t use very often but love it when I do.

Cooking beans from scratch in it is amazing.  The most recalcitrant old pintos cook to the point of being soft as canned without bursting.  And since I hate the smell, it’s nice to have it outside.  (The heat outside is nice in the summer, too.).  I have had poor success with baking or anything requiring cooking food down.  When steam gets out of the pot it tends to condense on the ‘window’ and the internal temperature drops a lot.  When I dried the apricots in it, I had to prop the window open very slightly to let out moisture, and it also took a lot longer than they said.  So the bottom line is that it is fantastic for thing that you would normally cook in a crockpot or other stuff in pots with tight lids in the oven, but less successful with, say, bread, which is supposed to be possible in it.

One of the great things about it for me is that it’s a survival item.  Because I have it, I know that I can always heat up food outside without a fire or utilities during the day.  That’s huge in earthquake country.  If there were gas leaks after an earthquake, a camping stove or fire pit would be extremely dangerous to use, and it would be unlikely that there was electricity at first.  So my other ‘backups’ would not work (I do have a backpacking stove with white gas, a camp stove, and an electric burner.).  Plus in theory you can sanitize drinking water in it in those kinds of circumstances.  So although I don’t use it much, the fact that when I use it it’s great is nice, and as a backup I figure I could be feeding the whole neighborhood for a while, or at least warming people’s canned or frozen foods for them.

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3 hours ago, kand said:

@KungFuPanda has me at least considering the canning. That sounds like a way I could handle it. The all day thing just is overwhelming for me and really doesn’t fit with life for us very well. It’s appealing to not need to use freezer space for some of the stuff.

Instead of waiting until I had 12 quarts worth of tomatoes to can, I've started canning 2-4 quarts at a time. This had been a huge relief!! I have a set up involving a cookie sheet to contain liquid mess, a cutting board, a bowl for skins and seeds, etc. I can prep a few quarts in an hour or less. I rarely can anything else, tomatoes are acidic so they feel less dangerous. 😄

So I can tomatoes, store butternut squash and Navy beans, and freeze chard/spinach. Oh, and I've discovered that zucchini lasts much longer on the counter than in the fridge. I don't freeze it until I have to.

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3 minutes ago, SusanC said:

Oh, and I've discovered that zucchini lasts much longer on the counter than in the fridge. I don't freeze it until I have to.

You don’t say! We keep ours in the fridge, and it starts feeling rubbery by the end of the week. I will experiment with that. 

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3 hours ago, kand said:

Do you have a refrigerator pickling recipe you want to share? I’ve only done it a couple times, and the first time I really liked the recipe I used, but I could never find the same one again didn’t like the subsequent one as much.

@KungFuPanda has me at least considering the canning. That sounds like a way I could handle it. The all day thing just is overwhelming for me and really doesn’t fit with life for us very well. It’s appealing to not need to use freezer space for some of the stuff.

today I will start with doing me watching the brassicas and freezing thing. I may have some onions ready that I will place up and do that as well.

oh, I’m looking at my Ziploc bags, none of them say they are freezer bags. Does that mean I should not use them?

If you are just freezing diced onions or peppers in them, and plan to use them quickly, then regular ziplocs will be fine.  For storage that is more long term, then yes I would get freezer bags or some other sort of system.  Don't forget....freeze them on a tray first, then package them up.  This means that your onions won't stick together when you baggie them up.

For stuff you want to freeze longer term, or stuff that is prone to freezer burn, like chicken legs, then yes, freezer bags.  

One thing you could do as well is use the smaller non freezer bags for individual measurements (like say 1/2 cup diced onions) then when you get the freezer bags, get the gallon size and package all the smaller baggies up in the larger freezer bag.  

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One year when my mom was blessed with way too many zucchini she sliced it and canned it in pint containers with tomatoes and peppers .  She basically just dumped it over roasts etc in her crock pot with potatoes and carrots.  It was really good.......I was sort of amazed.

eta.....she probably put onions in too.

Edited by mumto2
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8 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I have always wanted to can things- my grandmother did huge amounts, as they had a farm. I inherited all of her jars. But I am absolutely terrified of doing it incorrectly and botulizing my entire family. 

You can do it! Start small and with something that won't develop botulism if canned inappropriately.  Jams, jellies, most pickles and salsas will visibly mold or spoil in an obvious way- no danger that you'll accidentally consume toxins.  Get yourself a copy of the Ball Blue Book, pull out your grandmother's canning supplies, and see what you can do.  Boiling Water Bath Canning is easy and if you follow the directions to the letter, anyone can do it. 

Pressure canning of low-acid foods is a different ball of wax, and that's the one that comes with the biggest risk of botulism.  But if you start with a lovely jam of whatever your favorite in-season fruit is, you might just be hooked for life. 

One of my favorite resources to share about home canning is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. 

https://nchfp.uga.edu/

SO many recipes and instructions for canning and other methods of food preservation, including smoking, drying, curing and fermenting. 

 

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