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Preservation update: apples frozen; herbs dried

November 12th, 2008 · 8 Comments · Food preparation

Simple food preservation techniques—freezing and drying—have taken care of much of my local food bounty. If you still have fresh fruit or herbs available, you can do it, too. Here’s an update on food previously mentioned.

Apples

Remember those ugly apples? They were so delicious that I’d still be eating them, but I got down to the ones really covered with black spots so I decided cooking them and freezing them was in order. I pulled out the trusty apple machine (I must get a new suction cup!), and cranked through the pile—peeling, coring and slicing. They remained plenty firm for the machine. (Soft apples don’t do so well.)

I put the first 4-5 cups in an apple pie, so they’re long gone. As I prepped the rest, I dropped them in a bowl with about 1/2 cup lemon juice plus 1/4 cup water then drained them and froze them in two well-stuffed quart-size freezer bags, enough for two more pies.

Bonus: I captured the lemon juice as it drained off the apples and combined it with the remaining apple-dunking lemon juice and about 1/3 cup sugar, brought it to a boil for a couple of minutes and had a delicious appley-lemonade concentrate that I thinned with a little more water. Very tasty and refreshing.

Herbs

Then there were the late-harvest herbs. I didn’t fuss over them like I did the mint. I just snipped them, rinsed them, let the water dry, then hung them in a reasonably airy dark closet and hoped for the best. Temperatures had dropped, so it wasn’t quite as warm in there as would have been ideal, but it worked. I took them down, stripped leaves from stems and, voila!, enough dried sage and rosemary to share plus a small quantity of oregano and thyme for me. Another potential Christmas or hostess gift in the bag, so to speak.

From the closet

From the top: Thyme, oregano, rosemary-oregano mixture (oops), rosemary and sage

Packaged and labeled

When I took those herbs down, I cut and hung the high-reaching branch from my bay laurel. I need to find three or four jars to store those in for gift-giving, but in the meantime, they’re fragrantly stored in a freezer bag.

Bay before and after

Dried mint footnote: I made myself some tea from the dried mint the other day, and it was lovely.

Cost effective

When I think of how much dried herbs cost and how easy drying them is, I wonder what took me so long to do it myself? I probably paid $2.50 per plant for the new herbs this year, and even though my harvest from them was sparse (save for the sage), they’ll be back. And if they don’t prosper next year, I’ll still have gotten my money’s worth. (Actually, the parsley looks better than ever now with the cool weather. The thyme may need a new location, though. Maybe the oregano, too.)

Added bonus

I keep a compost bin, and not very effectively by serious composter standards. Nevertheless, besides providing a seeming endless supply of good stuff for the soil, it periodically rewards me with food. The biggest haul I got was a canteloupe one year, although its flavor was disappointing. This year’s free plant was a rangy tomato vine. It appeared too late in the season to really produce, but as frost approached, it had several bunches of small green tomatoes. By then, I’d had my fill of green tomatoes. One of the little buggers, though, had a hint of color to it, so I saved it, and it ripened on my counter. Here it is, my tomato harvest. Texture was only so-so, but it was still a treat!

How about you? Did your yard or garden surprise you this year?

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Susan G.

    will gladly accept rosemary, bay leaf and mint!!! I had a large number of smaller green peppers that have ripened to red. Have been steadily using them, but the ones left have started to wither. Guess I could halve them and trying drying – since the process is already starting!

  • LisaK

    I was amazed by the overwhelming amount of apples and tomatoes that we harvested this year.

    Off to check my herbs and dry them if they aren’t frozen.

  • Janet Majure

    Susan, consider them added to your Christmas list. :) Meanwhile, I know people dry hot peppers, so I guess there’s no reason you couldn’t dry sweet ones, although I opt for freezing; no blanching required.

    LisaK, I say go for it with the herbs. What did you do with all your apples and tomatoes?

  • LisaK

    We made tons of sauce. Okay, not *tons*, but it seems like it. We dried some in the dehydrator, gave a bunch away, and I still have some taunting me in my basement.

    Forgot about the herbs by the time I got home. I hate getting home in the dark!

  • The Culinary Institute of America

    Nice post on harvesting herbs, preservations.

    Thanks for posting

    Alice

  • Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Why didn’t I think of that for the apples? I have frozen quite a few – but I cooked them first (sauce or saute). What a good idea! Peeling, cutting up & freezing is what I do with so many other fruit & veggies, I can’t believe I never thought of doing with apples! Would save me lots of time at harvest time.

    Thanks for the good idea.

  • Janet Majure

    Thanks for stopping by, Sylvie. I’m sure you’d have thought of it eventually, but I’m glad I could help. As I understand, another option is to pack them raw mixed with sugar. I haven’t tried that one, though.

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