Almost every year since I have been married, whether I was pregnant or toting a small child, I have planted a garden. So far that has been 21 years.I have always felt a great fulfillment of bringing a seed all the way to the harvest and reaping the benefits of what the garden produced. Their is also relief in knowing exactly what I am eating. I use organic seeds, organic fertilizer, and purchase organic plants from my brother-in-law, who has an organic farm at our local farmer’s market. This is important to me is many ways; sustainability and responsibility to the Earth, clean foods for my family, and highest quality of foods as well. This is so important now that I have Celiac Disease and need to be ever watchful for things which will effect my heath, more so than I was before. So every year it comes to the point where the vegetables my garden has produced literally takes over every surface of my house. What am I going to do with all of this produce??? I work long hours to clear my counters, to only have them covered again in a day or two, tops. Here is what I did to preserve our bounty for the winter and early spring and the recipes I used. First were the zucchinis. For those who have grown zucchinis, you know that from one seed you get many, many zucchinis. I planted only one seed packet and had more than I ever needed. I shared a lot to friends and family 🙂 They also seem to camouflage well until they are the size of a small baseball bat. When we were able to pick them small, we loved to grill them or use them diced in omelettes. What to do with the clubs? We shred them and freeze for making zucchini bread in the winter months. To do this, slice the zucchini into 1″wide strips and send them through the food processor. Once shredded, we like to measure out how much we put into a freezer bag so we can pull out the right amount for a recipe instead of thawing and refreezing because we had too much. This is the zucchini bread recipe we like to use. It came from our church cookbook and we replaced the all purpose flour with our gluten free all purpose mix.
Gluten Free Zucchini Bread
2 eggs beaten
2 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 C. nuts, chopped
1 C. coconut oil
2 C. grated zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 C. gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 C. raisins
1/2 C. gluten free chocolate chips
Beat eggs, add oil, sugar, zucchini, cinnamon, vanilla, raisins, and chocolate chips and cream together. Add dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour into bread pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour.
Now on to the tomatoes. We have learned in over 20 years of marriage that we use a lot of tomato paste, PIZZA anyone, so that is the first way we put up our tomatoes for the winter. I found a great recipe here that works well. At the end of the recipe it says to top with olive oil and store in the fridge. That only stores for a short time and our fridge is certainly not big enough to contain all the tomato paste. Instead I topped off the 1 half pint jars with 1 tsp of lemon juice and then canned them in a water bath canner for 45 minutes. I like this recipe because it doesn’t over cook the tomato paste, who wants yucky brown paste. It bakes in the oven and the paste stays a nice red. We used to cook the paste in a crock pot until it thickened. This baked method is so much simpler and I like simple. We ended up with over 100 half pint jars of paste, but that did not use all of the tomatoes our garden produced. I sliced some up and put into a dehydrator. This makes a nice dried tomato snack or adds another texture to a salad.
I also made a mild salsa. I used jalapenos and it still remained mild. Here is the recipe I used.
This is not all that our garden produced, just a taste of what a weekend in late summer looks like for us. I am always up for new ways to put up food for the winter, so please feel free to comment what you do or if you have questions. I am not a master gardener or expert canner, but I will do my best to answer your question.