Friday, June 25, 2010

Harvesting and Preservation

I've been busy tending and harvesting the garden along with the lone peach tree. In all the years we've had the peach tree, I think this is the best year ever for peaches.

This is the first of probably four baskets loads. In searching the web, I found peaches can be dunked into a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds, given an ice water bath, and the skins will slip off. Well, yes and no; some did  but most had to be peeled. Need a little work in that process.  Our peaches in this area are small but ever so full of flavor. Once a "Fredericksburg" peach is tasted, no other peach can measure up to the flavor. It may be our alkaline soil.

After slipping or peeling the skin off, cutting, I dunked the peaches in a bowl with concentrated orange juice. The concentrated orange juice is substituted for sugar and the peaches do not go brown and retain the color.  I then put 2 cups of peaches in a Food Saver bag, stood the bags up in my fridge freezer for a couple of hours before doing the final vacuumed seal.  Freezing a little before vacuum sealing keeps the juice from overflowing into the vacuum sealer.

I planted several different varieties of tomatoes -- cherry, Roma, and the big round types.  The Romas and cherry tomatoes are ripening much quicker than the larger ones.  In addition to adding fresh tomatoes to salads and other dishes, I've been drying in the dehydrator.   

I've harvested quite a few zucchini.  Some have been eaten; others given away; some shredded and frozen for soups, stew, breads; and some have been sliced and dried in the dehydrator.  Dried zucchini chips are a pretty good snack and also can be rehydrated and put in soups and stews. 

Zucchini production is down since the squash bugs found the plants.  I tried dumping some lemon balm into the plants to hopefully repel the squash bugs and there may be an improvement in the plants -- at least they are not dying as quickly as they were. I may just get a few more zucchini before all die.  Squash bugs literally suck the life out of the plants.

Next year I may start picking the squash bugs off with tweezers -- eck, I don't touch bugs -- and squash the squash bugs.  Besides, where do these bugs come from?  I had a couple of zucchini plants last year; but, really, it was a bummer to see all these little bugs lined up on the plant.  I had to do a web search to find out just what they were; although, my first thought was "squash bugs,"  not that I had ever seen one. 

Never having used a dehydrator until recently, I was totally surprised how much heat the thing gives off.  I moved it out to the enclosed porch because the one thing we don't need is to heat the house in our Texas summer.

Some people recommend removing the skins along with the seeds. And some people suggest not removing the skins or seeds.  I chose to only remove the seeds.  The dried tomatoes are placed in a vacuum sealed bag and frozen.  Oh, I made some humus with the first batch of dried tomatoes.  It added a little zip to the humus.

The dried squash is stored in a glass container.

Even though I had a small garden last year, this is my first try at drying various veggies.  Last year I found on the Net that zucchini does well in soups or stews if shredded and frozen.  What on earth did people do for information before we had the Net?  I know.  We went to the library or bought magazines and books.  lol

Until next time, God bless.


AL said...

That's a very organic blog! Thanks for sharing some tips on how to preserve those veggies, I can't grow them so I have to buy them but sometimes they only rot in the fridge! Have you tried making zucchini chips? I think that would make a healthy snack.


DJan said...

What great pictures! Those peaches are tremendous, and I think the idea of drying those veggies is a good one. I have only heard of zucchinis taking over, not having them scarce because of bugs. BTW, I was amazed to find out your age (you left it on a comment) because I thought you were MUCH younger than me!

Lynn said...

DJan, I'm young at heart, not in years. :D

Donna said...

And delicious peaches too!

Donna said...

It does my heart good to see you put up all those yummy vegetables!

SquirrelQueen said...

Goodness Lynn, you are going to have all kinds of good stuff to eat this winter. The squash chips sound like a really good treat I'll have to give that a try.

I was also reading about your juniper trees in the post below. They sound like they are a constant problem, I'm glad no one introduced them here.