• Betty Kujawa

The Fruits (well, veggies) of Our Labors

The gardening season of 2020 is finally coming to its end. The night time chills are staying consistently in the 20's and rain looks more like slush and snow. Here in Butte Montana, you call yourself lucky when you get a solid 3 months of gardening in. If my fingers are counting correctly, we got 4 this year.


We have had a very nice and slightly longer fall than normal. The first frost got the sunflowers before they completely matured back in September (I wonder if I could make a tall enough hoop covering for them next year?) I NEED my sunflowers, that little piece that keeps me in touch of my Kansas upbringing. Plus, they are just pretty darn cool flowers!

This year I decided to experiment with different means of preserving our bountiful harvest. Usually we can or freeze what we don't eat right away. But in looking at my shelves, I still have some previous years produce still nestled away. So what better time then now to trial other methods that I have been wanting to experiment with.


TOMATOES



I'm playing with three different ways to preserving my tomatoes from the greenhouse. The first one is compounded butter. While I was pureeing up those delicious little (and some big) pops of these fruit to freeze in my silicon ice cube trays, I discovered that I had too much puree for the number of cubes that was headed to the freezer.


Open spice cabinet, I grabbed salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and garlic. Blended that up together, then thought, now what? Saw I had a stick of room temp butter out, so in it went. Blended. Not what I thought compounded butter should look like. HMMMM?! Found the extra virgin olive oil, turned on the blender and drizzled it in. Viola! That's what Compounded butter should look like!



Of course I had to sample it....broiler on, sliced some fresh mozzarella and left over Thai basil. I ate, I mean I "sampled" at least half the loaf of the little toasties. But I did it for research! The first few pictures didn't have the nice broiler-ness to them. So, I did it again....for the artistic expression through photography people!


Anyways, I decided to load up another, smaller silicon ice cube tray and make little pats of compounded butter for dinner guests. Easy to store in the freezer then bring back to room temp and serve with bread.


The second new process is the frozen tomato puree in the silicon ice cube trays, remember those.

Well, once frozen, you pop them out and bag them for easy drop ins for chili, soups, stews or stir fry's.....whatever or whenever you want a little tomato. Now I did not pull off any of the original liquid before I frozen them, so there will be that. I'm excited to see how these go. Some of the batches I did add seasonings, some I did not.


If you are asking what the green stuff is, then it is zucchini puree. Same concept, different plant. More on that in a moment.

My third process is dehydrating thin slices of my larger tomatoes and then pulverizing them in my coffee grinder to make a powder. I'm loving the idea for an add in to pizza dough and homemade breads. YUMMMMMMM!

I did find that I have to dehydrated up to 23 hours at 135 degrees as some slices took longer, most likely due to inconsistent thicknesses. The coffee grinder worked like a charm. I am going to store my bottles of the tomato powder in the frig and maybe the freezer as I feel that the powder still had some moisture to it. I'll keep you updated on how this experiment goes.


ZUCCHINIS


So these guys, notorious for the HUGH givings that we all love and call Zucchini Bread. But I like them small. Easy to slice up thin and serve raw on a salad. Besides the zucchini relish that is our normal canning method, I did these things with it this year.


  1. Pureed and frozen into cubes (as seen above with the tomatoes). Again I can throw them into soup or whatever I want for a little something extra.

  2. Dehydrated them into small quarter slices and stored into jars. I will use these in my chicken pot pies and soups.

  3. Sauteed them up and froze in again said silicon ice cube trays... if you haven't noticed, I REALLY like these silicon trays. These I will drop into my lasagna sauce.



Two vegetables down....well these two are actually fruits, botanically speaking. Now to go and peel and prep garlic for the dehydrator. Luckily the dehydrator is in the garage, but the house will be nicely scented while I work on this stage. HMMM? What can I make for dinner now?


From our homestead garden to yours, happy preserving.


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