Saving Summer's Bounty

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm at it again.  Summer is gone - has been for a while here - and fall is full force.  And so starts my yearly ritual of buying beautiful, in-season produce from the Farmer's Market and other sources and freezing them.  There is nothing better in the middle of winter than pulling out a pack of corn that was frozen the summer or fall before.  The taste is so different from the frozen corn that I can buy at the grocery store.  And so, every year I have a few things that I like to tuck away into my freezer.  This year it was raspberries (thank you previous homeowners who blessed us with a huge, mature patch of raspberry canes!), corn, carrots, basil, and peaches.  (You can see how I freeze these foods in my post on freezing from last year.)

Carrots - I froze carrots for the first time last year, and what a treat they were in the middle of winter!  Carrots from the grocery store are great, but the carrots I can get at the end of summer, both from my own garden and from my favorite local farm (Evergreen Farm in Star Valley, WY, in case you're interested) are so tender and sweet and very unlike those at the grocery store.  I simply slice the carrots into coins, place the coins in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze.    Once they're frozen, I'll transfer them to a container and use them all winter in soups and other recipes. 

Basil - Amazingly, this is my first year to freeze basil.  There is nothing quite like fresh basil, but fresh basil in the middle of winter is expensive!  I have high hopes that freezing the basil from my own garden will be successful.  I'm trying it two ways.  Both ways start with finely chopping the basil in a food processor.  In the first way, I drizzle in a little olive oil as well and then freeze in small portion sizes using an ice cube tray.  In the second way, I put the chopped basil in an ice cube tray and then cover with water.  So far, the basil in both methods looks great!  We'll see how they fare in the middle of winter.

Peaches - I've talked about peaches before.  This year, I took my plethora of peaches from Palisade, CO and made a peach BBQ sauce, peach bread, and these fabulous peach crisps in a jar and froze them all.  I first came across the recipe for Peach Crisps in a Jar on a fabulous (and now gone) blog called Eating Well Anywhere.  I make several (10 this year) and pop them in the freezer to eat later in the winter.  It's a fabulous treat when there is snow on the ground outside.  This year, I added some fresh blackberries to the filling.  Any berry or stone fruit would work well in this recipe.

Peach Crisps in a Jar
from Eating Well Anywhere

3 peaches
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp sll-purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP cold butter
pinch salt
3 half pint canning jars

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Peel peaches.  Place one sliced peach into each canning jar.  Sprinkle each jar with 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp flour, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Shake the jar a little to let the flour settle.  Cut brown sugar, butter, and salt into butter.  Top each jar with 1/3 of the mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes or until juices bubble on a baking sheet.  Let jars cool completely.  Cap and place in freezer.

To reheat, I simply put the frozen jars into a 400 F oven and bake until it reaches the desired temperature - usually 20-30 min. 

Anyone else trying to save a bit of summer for the middle of winter?  What's going in your freezer or pantry?


Mariko September 20, 2010 at 12:40 PM  

How is the texture of frozen carrots? I love the idea for frozen peach crisp. I'm always looking in the freezer for a snack... :)

cathy September 20, 2010 at 5:05 PM  

Mariko - Hmmm..good question. I wish I had a complete and good answer for you! I assumed last winter that the carrots would not have the best texture for eating raw, so I never even tried them that way. They always went straight into soups and other recipes, usually not even thawed. The texture of the frozen carrots in soups and stews and other cooked dishes was fantastic, though. I would never known that they had been frozen carrots, and they retained their nice sweet flavor.

Martha A. September 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

So, does the crisp top stay crispy, or does it get soggy?

cathy September 21, 2010 at 10:21 AM  

Martha A - You know, I don't remember having a problem with the topping in the past. I'm working off of memory, but I think that because I bake it in the oven with the top off to reheat it, the topping crisps back up. It's not as crisp as a fresh baked crisp topping, but it isn't soggy either. Hope that helps!

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