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Freezing peppers and other produce: yummy eggplant recipes.

Locally sourced, homegrown, all natural, organic ... These are a just a few of the key words that we as foodies and locavores look for when we are trying to source "real" food. We make every effort to know the farmer/producer and build that relationship with them. I am all about that part of it--the getting to know part. It's important to me and I know it's important to you. It's a full circle--seed to dirt, seedling to plant, blossom to fruit, harvest to market, producer to consumer, and so goes the cycle of the production of food.

We are preserving and storing for the cold doldrum of winter. We still must eat and we want to eat good--and we can. We have been busy in the kitchen with all the preserving we do here. This past week we were busy with making all the barbecue sauces and ketchup for both our family and our farm's Winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Pantry Share, along with pizza sauce and grape juice. We put up beautiful jars of raspberry and grape jam that are lining the shelves now. I was able to use all the leftover grapes from the steamer after I got the juice out. I put the "pulp" into a stainless steel colander over a large kettle and left it to drip. We did five bushels of grapes and got almost 100 quarts of grape juice and then from all the "waste" I was able to get another eight quarts of juice that I made our grape jelly with. I had some cranberries in the freezer, so I cooked some of those down, used the juice and substituted that for some of the grape juice. I added the cranberries and got some super yummy Cran-Grape Jelly. (See the recipe below.) My CSA Work Share ladies got all the basil harvested so Taylor and I got the beautiful pesto made for both our family and our Winter CSA Pantry Shares.

What To Eat And When?

While reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the author does a superb job in giving us the details on what's in season and when. If you are a regular at the farmers markets, you probably have a fair amount of knowledge in this area, but for those of you who are just getting your feet wet in this wonderful world of "real food," I say, "Welcome!"

A really great site to go to can be found on my blogspot, www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, you will see a site where you can get what is in season all across the world.

Freezing Peppers is Easy

Wash your peppers in cold water and remove any debris and bad spots along with stems. Cut your peppers in half and remove stem end and all seeds; either dice or cut into strips. I do some of both--diced are great for putting into chilies, gumbos and on pizza, and the strips are perfect for stir fry or fajitas.

Place on a cookie sheet and place in your freezer until close to frozen; use a metal turner to pop the peppers loose and place them in freezer containers. I like to use one-gallon ice cream buckets. I also place a piece of wax paper or foil wrap over the top before I put the lid on, this helps prevent freezer burn. Downsize your container as you use your peppers.

You can use this same method with raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries and any other item that doesn't need blanching or steaming.

Here is my homemade CranGrape Jelly I created by chance!

Cran-Grape Jelly

Prepare lids and jars

Measure out exactly 7 cups of sugar
in separate bowl; set aside

Prepare liquid as follows:

You will need exactly 5 cups of
liquid--at least 4 cups of grape and
the remaining from the liquid used to
cook down the cranberries. You can
add more grape juice to make the five
cups if you don't get enough from the
cranberries.

Place 1-1/2 cups frozen whole
cranberries in a 2-quart sauce pan
with about 2 cups of water. Add
frozen cranberries; bring to a boil
then turn down heat and simmer
for five minutes. Drain liquid and
reserve. Place cranberries in a bowl
and mash. Add cranberry juice to
grape juice until you have exactly 5
cups of liquid.

Measure exact amount of prepared
fruit juice into a 6-8 quart saucepot.
Stir in 1 package of fruit pectin powder
(I use Sure-Jel). Add 1/2 teaspoon
butter to prevent foaming.

Bring mixture to full rolling boil
(a boil that doesn't stop bubbling
when stirred) on high heat, stirring
constantly.

Stir in sugar quickly. Return to
full rolling boil and boil exactly 1
minute, stirring constantly. Remove
from heat. Skim off any foam.

Ladle quickly into prepared jars,
filling to within 1/4-inch of tops.
Wipe jar rims and threads. Place lid
and ring on tightly. Place jars on elevated
rack of water bath canner and
cover with hot water, covering jars
by at least 2 inches. Process jelly for
5 minutes--adjust processing time
according to your altitude. Remove
jars and place upright on a towel or
cooling rack to cool completely.

Let stand on counter for 24 hours
and put on your shelves. If any jars
didn't seal, place in refrigerator and
use first.

Roasted Eggplant Dip

  1 head garlic
  1 large eggplant, cut half lengthwise
  1 small onion, sliced thinly
  1 large tomato, cored, sliced in half
  3 tablespoons lemon juice
  2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 450[degrees]F. Cut top off
the head of garlic to expose a bit of
the cloves. Wrap loosely in foil, bake
until soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool
slightly.

Meanwhile, coat a baking sheet
with cooking spray. Place eggplant
halves on the prepared baking sheet,
cut side down. Roast for 10 minutes.
Add onion slices and tomato halves
to the sheet and roast until all the
veggies are soft, 10-15 minutes. Let
cool slightly.

Squeeze the head of garlic, releasing
the soft pulp, into a medium
bowl. Mash with the back of a spoon.
Slip skins from the eggplant and tomatoes;
coarsely chop. Finely chop
the onion. Add chopped veggies to
the garlic pulp and stir in the lemon
juice, mint, oil, salt and pepper. Serve
with sliced raw veggies, crackers or
pita bread/chips.

Veggie Stuffed Eggplant

  1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup chopped onion
  2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup each; mushrooms, chopped
    zucchini and sweet pepper--red, green
    and yellow mixed
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ, optional
  2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
    cheese

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise;
remove pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch thick
shell. Cube pulp; set shells & pulp
aside.

In a large nonstick skillet coated
with cooking spray, saute onion and
garlic until onion is tender. Add the
veggies and eggplant pulp; saute for
4-6 minutes or until veggies are crisptender.
Stir in the tomatoes, wheat
germ, parsley, thyme, and seasonings.
Cook for I minute.

Divide mixture evenly between
the eggplant shells; sprinkle with the
cheese. Place on a baking sheet. Bake
at 400[degrees]F for 20-25 minutes or until
shells are tender.


Visit the Smiths at www.thegardengatefarm.com.

BY JEAN SMITH

THE GARDEN GATE CSA FARM[TM]

SNOVER, MICHIGAN
COPYRIGHT 2013 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Smith, Jean
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2013
Words:1261
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