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Monday, August 14, 2006

What to Do with Too Much Produce

It is nearly mid August and that means the market garden is in full swing. we are harvesting literally tons of food out of the garden right now. We are harvesting onions, cantaloups, watermelon, acorn squash, green peppers, eggplant, zucchini, basil, cukes, kale, chard, etc..

Things like onions are pretty easy to deal with. Harvest, put on the drying racks and ignore for a few weeks while they cure. Clean them up by removing the dirty layer of skin and the roots than store and/or sell. The winter squashes are also easy to deal with, harvest, wash off any dirt and let cure for a week or two than store.

The tomatoes are not so easy. They are easier to harvest than the long keeping crops but they also are a whole lot more perishable so that means if the sales are slow (and they are) they either have to be composted or made into something. We much prefer to make them into something rather than let them go to the compost. So today I made my first batch of tomato juice out of a wide variety of maters I found either sitting on the kitchen table (they were well on their way to conquering the table for all tomato kind) or going on their way towards compost material in the store about a bushel of tomatoes to be made into juice. The juice has brandywines, basinga, persimmon, moscovich, sunsugar, yellow taxi and big beef maters in it.

Right now it is heating up on the stove and soon I will add some balsamic vinegar, home made garlic powder, worcester sauce and a bit of salt to the juice to finish it and than get out the canner, quart canning jars, rings and lids and can it all up either tonight or tomorrow morning before market. Looks like I will have about 8 to 10 quarts of juice in the end.

Melons present many of the same challenges of the tomatoes, though they do not go bad nearly as quickly and right now are selling a lot better so there are rarely any that need processing this time of year. But a couple of weeks ago that was not the case and I was freezing melons about every day. Of course it is far easier to cut and freeze melons than it is to make tomato juice or sauce. For freezing melons all I do is cut the rind off and than cut the melon into 1" cubes and put them on a cookie sheet and put that into the freezer. When the melon has frozen I put the cubes into a plastic freezer bag and put that back into the freezer.

Basil has been another thing coming in heavily. The volume of the basil has been very very heavy, so much so that even with brisk sales I still have a lot left over. Last Friday I harvested about 6 pounds from one bed. Out of that I sold about 3 pounds and the rest I dried for winter use and sale. The next harvest I am thinking of making a huge batch of pesto and freezing that for winter and maybe even sell some.

Soon I will be dealing with a lot of ripe peppers and will freeze pounds and pounds of them as well as selling as many as possible.

This is the curse and the blessing of having a market garden. At times it produces well beyond what you can sell and than you get to put up food for the winter months when it is really hot outside

1 comment:

Chandira said...

MMMMMmmm.. make some pesto! I've actually still got a living Basil plant which is a miracle. I love it.

Your tomato juice sounds great. I had all my tomatoes stolen, either by racoons, squirrels or hungry homeless people, not sure which, but I was so disappointed! lol Oh well, they're still growing, so maybe I'll get a few more before the end of the season. Which I will guard with my life!