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Monday, August 12, 2013

Fresh Harvest Today - Feed the Carb Monster Tomorrow!

Farmer's markets, backyard gardens, front yard gardens, generous friends - all sources of excellent fresh produce this time of year. Did you know that bite for bite fresh vegetables bursting with health-promoting complex carbohydrates, are as effective as simple carbs in satisfying those pesky snack cravings we all get after weight loss surgery? Don't believe me - just try a cup of fresh vegetable soup and watch your cravings disappear. Carb Monster Soup Recipes.

If you are lucky enough to enjoy some fresh home-grown produce this time of year with extra to spare, freezing is an ideal method of preservation that is easy, affordable, and efficient. Here is a brief how-to from the Clemson Cooperative Extension. For more detailed information check-out their printable guide: Freezing Fruits and Vegetables and add this to your Kitchen 411 binder for reference and inspiration!

Freezing Fresh Vegetables in August

Freezing is one of the most common forms of food preservation and with good reason. It’s fast, relatively easy and cost effective. In South Carolina there are a variety of vegetables ready for harvest in August. If you are lucky enough to have extra produce, the following vegetables are well suited for freezing:
Beans (snap, Italian, variety)
Butter beans
Mixed leafy greens (Collard, Kale, Mustard, Turnips)
Yellow squash
Sweet corn (nearing the end of harvest but still available)
Sweet potatoes
Incorporating the following steps will help ensure that you produce a high quality frozen product:
  • Select firm, ripe produce - Vegetables harvested in the morning will result in the best quality. Additionally, it’s best to work with amounts that you can handle within 3-4 hours.
  • Blanch vegetables - Blanching is a process where the vegetable is immersed in boiling water or steamed for a short period of time and then cooled rapidly in ice water. This process destroys microorganisms on the surface of the vegetables, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. While most vegetables call for blanching, some root vegetables including beets and sweet potatoes require a different preparation. For details on preparing root vegetables for freezing see HGIC 3260, Preserving Root Vegetables.
  • Use proper storage containers - Containers designated for freezing will help keep moisture in and air out of the vegetables. For best quality look for moisture and vapor--resistant wraps, plastic film bags combined with collapsible cardboard freezer boxes or “freeze and cook” bags.
  • Check freezer temperatures - Keep freezer temperatures at or below 0° F. A thermometer placed in your freezer will help ensure that you are maintaining the required temperature.
Plan to use the frozen vegetables within in one year for highest quality. Most vegetables will maintain quality for 12 – 18 months when stored at 0 ° F or below.

Detailed information on freezing vegetables can be found at HGIC 3063, Freezing Fruits & Vegetables.

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