A Bit of Early Season Preserving

I haven’t really been experimenting around in the kitchen much lately. Sometimes it’s nice to fall back on old favorites or try someone else’s creations.  I’ve mostly been making recipes from other bloggers and my newest cookbook, The Homesick Texan, which was a graduation gift from Mom and Dad.  Oh how I adore this cookbook!  So far I have made two different salsas, Austin style black beans, fish tacos, tortilla soup, guacamole, chipotle biscuits and gravy, and San Antonio tortillas.  There must be others.

This time of year I really start getting the canning bug, but it’s too early for peppers, tomatoes, and pickles.  I like to direct my attention to freezing in the early part of the season.  Today I’m going to share a few preserving methods I use year-round that help cut a few corners in tedious kitchen tasks and help less food go to waste.

Ginger-Garlic Cubes

We use a lot of ginger and garlic around here because these two ingredients are commonly found in Indian and East Asian recipes.  These cubes really help to speed a recipe along and guarantee that you won’t go to make a favorite curry dish only to find that you used up the last of the ginger.

This idea is from Canning for a New Generation by Lianna Kristoff.  It’s too good not to share.  Now we are never without garlic and ginger ready to go for recipes.

•Use a 2:1 ratio of ginger and garlic.

Peel the ginger and cut into 1″ chunks.  Peel the garlic cubes and leave whole.   Blend in a food processor with about 1 cup of water to form a smooth paste.  Freeze in ice cube trays.  Store in a large bag in the freezer.  To use, thaw the amount of cubes needed in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or stir directly into soups or the crock-pot.  I figure each cube equals approximately 1″ of minced fresh ginger and 2 cloves of garlic.

Chipotle Cubes

Basically the same as the ginger-garlic cubes.  Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce are a staple in my cooking.  They come in a pretty big can, and most recipes call for only one or two chilies, since they have a pretty potent flavor.  To keep them fresh I freeze them in ice cube trays as well.  Open up a can of chilies, place 1 large or 2 small chilies in each compartment of the ice cube tray.  Fill the rest of the way with the remaining adobo sauce.  Freeze and transfer to a plastic bag.  I find that these are actually very easy to mince for recipes when they are still frozen.

Freezing Bacon

We really could eat a lot of bacon in one sitting, but that doesn’t mean we should.  Even though it keeps for quite a long time in the refrigerator, freezing maintains a fresher flavor.  Many recipes call for only a few strips of bacon at a time, and then the package needs to get used up right away.  I find that it is very convenient for us to store the bacon slices individually so that we can use as few or as many as we need at a time.  I like to pull out a couple strips and chop them up before frying to make bacon bits for baked potatoes and big salads.

Take however much bacon you want to freeze and divide into individual strips.  Roll each strip up like a fruit roll.  Freeze on a baking sheet.  Transfer to a freezer bag.

Freezing Greens

We go through a lot of frozen spinach in the winter.  It makes its way into soups, casseroles, pastas, curries, and just about any place that needs some more veggies.  I harvested all of the spinach and Swiss chard in the garden the other day to freeze for the winter.

Those of you who know me know why this picture is so terrifying.

Take as much spinach, or any green, as you want to freeze.  Wash thoroughly and chop or slice into medium sized pieces.  Boil batches in a large pot for 1-2 minutes. Immediately plunge the cooked greens into a large pan of ice water to stop the cooking.  Squeeze out excess water and freeze in bags.


4 thoughts on “A Bit of Early Season Preserving

  1. Canning isn’t one of my strong suits, so freezing in my preferred method of preserving. I mostly freeze bread dough, but I would love to freeze more seasonal fruits and veggies. Any idea on how to freeze zucchini? I’ve got about 10 pounds (maybe more) of zucchini in my fridge that one of my hubby’s customers gave us yesterday and I really don’t want it to go bad.

    Love the new blog and have updated my blog roll! 🙂

  2. Hi Leslie, and thank you for the nice comment! Shredding zucchini for freezing seems to work the best if you want to use it in breads, muffins, spaghetti sauce, etc. Slices don’t freeze well because they get very soggy. It seems that the smaller the pieces, the better. And if you don’t want to freeze all of it, refrigerator pickles stay fresh for a pretty long time, no canning involved. 🙂

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