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Using up last year's bounty

February 3, 2011 - Kathie Evanoff
Near the end of last summer, just as the tomatoes were ripening in the garden faster than we could keep up, I decided to have surgery on my hand.

This left me unable to contribute much to the end of the season harvest. Rather than let the tomatoes rot on the vines, my husband picked everything he could and filled the freezer with “produce to be used later.”

Much of this were bell peppers and tomatoes. The tomatoes were washed, the stems cut off and the tomatoes were tossed into freezer bags whole. Some of the larger ones were cut into quarters, but nothing else was done to prepare them for preservation.

The green peppers were washed and gutted of seeds and membrane before some were cut into long strips and others were diced. They weren’t blanched or cooked at all but were tossed into bags as soon as they were chopped accordingly. These are used throughout the year in dishes and recipes.

One of these dishes is homemade breakfast bowls. This dish also is suitable for dinner and can even be prepared ahead and frozen if needed. He cooks ground sausage in a small frying pan. Once cooked, he takes the sausage out of the pan and in the sausage drippings, he adds diced green peppers and potatoes until they are soft. He then puts the sausage back in the pan and adds two beaten eggs. He continues to cook the mixture until the eggs are set. Sometimes it comes out of the pan looking like a fritatta and other times he’ll scramble the eggs and what you have is more like a hash. Either way, it is good topped with salsa, sawmill gravy or whatever you like. We like ours plain.

The tomatoes are a little trickier, but they aren’t wasted either. A couple weeks ago I had some time on a weekend to take two of the gallon bags of tomatoes out of the freezer. After running them under water for a few minutes until they started to soften and break apart, I was able to slip off their skins and put them in a large saucepan. For several hours, I cooked the tomatoes until much of the water evaporated and they began to thicken into sauce. I also added a couple small cans of tomato paste to brighten up the color of the sauce and make it even thicker still.

Once it was cooked down to my liking, I put the sauce into freezer containers and back into the freezer they went, ready to be made into spaghetti sauce, chili sauce or used with beef broth to make vegetable beef soup.

Not much in the garden goes to waste. If there’s no time at the end of the season to properly preserve what’s left, there’s always a way to store it until you do have the time.


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