The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Processing Sweet Peppers for Freezer Storage

Look at that yummy harvest!  There was just one thing--I had the opportunity to go out of town for a week, and I knew my guys would never eat all those peppers.  I'd have to process them for long-term storage.

I picked a whole bunch of jalapeños from my two little bushes, too, but that's another post for another day.  Promise.  :)

Processing Sweet Peppers for Freezer Storage

Any sweet peppers will work!  This year I planted Giant Marconi sweet green peppers, after having not-so-great luck with regular green.  These are longer and have thinner skins, but are just as sweet and they are prolific on the bush.  Red, yellow, green--any sweet peppers will work with this method!

First, harvest them!  Okay, okay, but really.  Get 'em all inside, put 'em in a big colander, and rinse them well with cool/cold water.

Remove the stem, slice them lengthwise, cut out the white parts, rinse the seeds out, and dice them up.  I usually dice about 1" square or so, not very uniform.

While you're doing all that, bring a pot (I use a six-quart pot with a steamer insert) of water to a boil.  I leave the lid on until I'm ready to use it, then leave the lid off for this part--mostly because I twister-tie the steamer insert handles together, so I can lift out the basket with all the veggies inside.

While the water is coming to a boil, fill the steamer basket with green pepper pieces.  When the water is boiling, slowly lower the steamer basket into the water.  It'll take about a minute to come to a boil again; boil for three minutes.

After three minutes, lift the steamer basket out, let the water drain, and carefully pour the blanched peppers into a bowl of very cold or ice water (feel free to use ice cubes!).  Keep the water cold.  What I did was to use the coldest tap water I could, then drained the peppers and filled up again with cold water.  We use filtered water to make our ice cubes and I didn't want to waste that on this project.

After three minutes in the cold water--which stops the cooking process--drain the peppers and lay them out on lint-free cloth (non-terry, something without fuzz).

Fold the cloth over on itself and gently pat down to absorb excess water.

The peppers don't need to be dry; just pat out as much water as you can.  Then, measure out the peppers into freezer bags.  I measure two cups of peppers for each quart-size freezer bag.  You may also use a sealer (I actually have one that hubby bought at a garage sale, but I've never used it).

Seal the bags.  Here's my dorky but helpful next step:  Open a bag at its center and insert a straw.  Seal as much as you can, then suck out as much air as you can.  Pull the straw out with your lips as you seal the bag all the way shut.  This gives a nice airtight seal and keeps much of the oxygen out, which helps preserve your veggies for a longer period of time.

Et voilà!  There they are, four bags, eight cups, of chopped sweet peppers!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Processing Parsley for Freezer Storage

I planted three parsley plants in my garden this year, and they love their location, the soil, everything!  They're monster plants, and I kept forgetting to go out there in my garden and snip it for my lunchtime salads.  I finally did a major harvest at the end of July.

Below is the "after harvest" picture, since I didn't get my camera out beforehand.  :)

Huge colander of parsley, and a few rhubarb stalks.

I plucked a few stalks of rhubarb for making muffins (which were a hit at our weekly church fellowship meal), and brought them in with the parsley.

I knew I wouldn't be able to process the parsley this day, so I washed it in cool water and put it all in various vases and Mason jars for a few days.

I processed it a few days later.  :)

Since I already washed it, I simply removed a stalk or two at a time, then removed the leaves until I had a nice pile of leaves on my cutting board.  I hand-chopped the pile of parsley to my liking (I chop it more coarsely, but feel free to chop as finely as you like).  You can also use a stick blender with the herb cup attachment.  I find that hand-chopping yields the best results, since my knife blade is kept very sharp.

After I chop the pile, I put the chopped parsley in a freezer container.  Then I make another pile of parsley leaves, and chop it.

On and on it goes until all my parsley is chopped and in the container.

I put the lid on, label the box, and put it in the freezer.  The parsley stays very nicely for several months; I use it in soups, stews, on salads, etc.  Parsley is so good for you--it's nature's detox herb!  Have fun storing your garden parsley!!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Harvest Harvest in my Garden

I used the word harvest twice on purpose.

July 26.

The tomatoes are really starting to come in.  Here's the first batch, including Summer Peach, Paul Robeson, Cherokee Purple, and Big Boy.

I added some Giant Marconi sweet green peppers to the colander.

Then I went back out with a bowl for the jalapenos.  I planted just two plants!  I picked just the largest jalapenos, and in a few days I'll pick the rest and can them.  Pickled jalapenos!

July 29.

Here's the second harvest pictures!

Lots and lots of Giant Marconi sweet green peppers.  I'll have to freeze them since there's no way we'll eat them all!!  I'm almost, just almost, not sad about my poor basil.  I have enough of the rest.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Farmers Market and Taste of Bolingbrook

July 24.

Every Thursday, we drive over to the east side of town to our weekly summer farmers market.  This time, however, it was more than just the farmers market.  Many local restaurants, eateries, and goody-makers were there to give us a taste of summertime yumminess.  We spent two hours wandering the I-shaped market and food festival, and ended up getting full on samples.  Good thing we went at dinnertime!  Here is the photojournal of our time, just Fernando, Thomas and I.

Free samples at Famous Daves!

Not too crowded early on.

I spent extra time at Cali Girl Cakes--her goodies were amazing.  I ate that brownie.  Oh, my.

Pineapple upside down cake from HerBakery.

My first try of paella.

The booth at Ted's Montana Grill.

Mongo, at BD's Mongolian BBQ.

What a great time!

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