by Helen Legare,
Legare Farms, Inc.
July is a tough time on the farm. The temperature and the humidity is miserable outside. Most of the summer vegetables are finished. Okra is one of the few vegetables that love our coastal heat. It’s time to start planting fall vegetables but nobody wants to think about that much less do it in this heat. The chickens aren’t laying as many eggs because they’re hot too. Our demand for eggs hasn’t decreased but the amount of eggs has. Water for the cows, goats, and sheep is important in the heat. Water for the pigs is critical since they can’t sweat and have to have the water and mud to ccol down. So the work on the farm hasn’t stopped but we try to do it in the early mornings and late evenings to avoid the worst of it.
It’s hot so thinking about warm soup is the last thing we want to do. However this is the best time to be preparing for the cold weather by freezing or canning tomatoes for our vegetable soup next winter. Tomatoes can be easily frozen and while canning tomatoes is more work, the end results are worth it. Drop your tomatoes in hot boiling water for about a minute then drop them in ice water, then the tomato skins will come off easy in your hand. Once you’ve removed the skins, cut the tomatoes into quarters and drop in a Ziplock freezer bag. Next winter when you’re ready to make soup, pull them out of the freezer and stew down. Canning tomatoes is a little more complicated and for another time but well worth the effort to know where you’re food came from and how it was handled.
Here’s some tips for freezing some of my favorite vegetables to enjoy later.
Peas and Beans
After scalding peas and snap beans, spread them on trays and freeze them. Pour frozen vegetables into plastic bags or other containers, seal and return them to the freezer. This allows the vegetables to be removed in cupfuls as needed.
Peppers can be frozen whole after cleaning out seeds and stem, cut in half, or cut into strips. Seal them in small plastic containers or freezer bags. Peppers lose crispness in freezing but are satisfactory for cooked dishes.
Select firm, heavy eggplant of uniform dark color. Peel and slice in ¼ to 1/3 inch slices or dice. Drop pieces into cold water containing ¼ cup salt to 1 gallon water to prevent color loss. Scald eggplant in boiling salt water 4 ½ minutes. Chill in ice water. Drain and package in layers separated by sheets of freezer paper. Freeze. Eggplant can also frozen in a casserole if it does not have egg. Remove from freezer and bake.