We harvested the last of our beets and rainbow carrots this weekend, and finally pulled up the snow pea plants, meaning we’ve said goodbye to nearly all of our spring veggies. Cucumbers, squash, and zucchini meanwhile are loving this transition period from spring to summer. We have enough pickling cucumbers this year to offer a “pickle pack” – 5 lb of cucumbers, enough for several jars of pickles. Also, if you’re already missing fresh onions, we still have shallots available. Shallots have a milder, sweeter flavor than onions, and are great in recipes like salads or vinaigrettes that call for raw onion. They add delicate onion-like flavor to omelets and quiches, roasted vegetables dishes, and sauces as well. Head over to our online store for those items and so much more!
These past couple of weeks have been harvest-centric, with potatoes, onions, and carrots carrying the load. That equates to lots of great, fresh food available to eat now. Additionally, it also translates into full freezers and pantries!
For me, Calamint Farms has a dual purpose. Primarily, its purpose is to provide, as our motto goes, “artisanal food from our farm to your table.” Secondarily, it’s also, essentially, my only source of produce.
It makes me so happy and proud that over that past five years, through a combination of being a member of a local CSA prior to the existence of Calamint Farms and having our own farm-fresh veggies, I basically haven’t bought vegetables from a grocery store. And that’s not to say that there’s anything inherently wrong with grocery store produce. But, having grown up in a state with a four-month growing season, when I moved here, where we essentially have a year-round growing season, it struck me as the most logical thing to seek out local produce at every available opportunity.
Of course, just because we have a 12-month growing season doesn’t mean that everything I want is always available. It takes a fair bit of planning and preparation in the form of canning and freezing to have access to a variety of vegetables year-round. I don’t do a lot of preserving of the veggies we can grow in both spring and fall, like carrots and broccoli, though they would freeze well. Even in their off-season, we’re never more than a few months away from harvesting them again, and I’ve grown to accept (and celebrate) their limited, seasonal availability.
Instead, I focus on the items that are only available during one season to increase their longevity in my diet. Potatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers (in the form of pickles) are the veggies that fit the bill as being (relatively) easy to preserve through canning or freezing.
Just in the past couple of weeks, I’ve canned 11 quarts of potatoes, and frozen 2 gallons of onions and a hundred or so cloves of garlic. Squash will be added to the freezer once its season starts coming to an end. Several batches of pickles will be processed, with the goal being a full year’s supply. I’ll can and/or freeze as much tomato sauce and diced tomatoes as I’m able. And, based on a recent discovery, will freeze several gallons of our snacking tomatoes. On a whim last year I froze a gallon of them, whole and with their skins on, which made the process incredibly easy, but then was scared to cook with them. Within the past month, I’ve used them twice in recipes calling for diced tomatoes and have been pleasantly surprised at the flavor and how fresh they seemed after nearly a year in the freezer.
Although it can be hard to find time to put up these veggies (my potato canning adventure accidentally didn’t end until 4 am a couple of weeks ago), every time I open a jar of potatoes, or pull a handful of onions or squash out of the freezer to saute, or thaw some tomato sauce to serve over homemade pasta, I know every minute of preparation time was worth it. And it means that I get year-round access to things like potatoes and tomatoes that otherwise could only be harvested and eaten fresh or stored for a couple of months, and yet still get to eat locally.