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Our Guest Writer is a multi-instrumentalist and the producer of more than 160 projects, which have won 10 Canadian Gold and Platinum records, 4 American Gold records, 23 Juno and 2 Grammy nominations, and sold over 8 million copies. He is also a committed vegetarian, gardener and activist who makes really great cookies!
Ken Whiteley has been a friend to the market since its inception, and this week, he shares his well-practiced knowledge of putting food by for winter. He writes:
Freezing and Thawing
It’s that time of year when it can be really cold one day and sunny and warm the next. As the days get so much brighter, the farmers are busy planning the coming spring and summer’s crops. In the meantime we all still have to eat.[recent_products]
For those of us who like to eat local and organic as much as possible it can be a challenging time. Sure there are still local root vegetables and we’ve been lucky that Nith Valley’s supply of potatoes is still hanging in, along with turnips, carrots, celeriac and beets. To add some zest to those choices, my answer has become the freezer!
My close, personal relationship with freezers began many years ago when I lived on an organic farm near Beaverton, ON and I bought an old upright freezer second hand. I finally traded that away to Ted Thorpe for a flat of strawberries one June and we bought a new fridge with the largest freezer compartment we could get. (During this pandemic we broke down and bought an additional small chest freezer.)
While I also have done “canning” over the years, preserving summer tomatoes in mason jars, it takes a lot of work and attention to detail. Freezing on the other hand is easy. A bushel basket of Kooner’s roma tomatoes? No problem, quickly wash them, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer and once they’re frozen bag them up in freezer bags. Then you can pull out a single tomato when mixing up a curry or a dozen for a great, fresh tasting tomato sauce.
I love eggplants. Remember when you could get 3+ pounds of specialty eggplants at the market for $8? I cut them up, sautéed the pieces in olive oil and then froze them in large ice cube trays.
Peppers can be cut and frozen in slices or pieces, again, laid out on a baking sheet so that the individual pieces can be easily removed from a freezer bag.
Is your garlic starting to either dry out, rot or beginning to sprout? In June I buy up garlic scapes, which are relatively inexpensive, put them in a food processor with a little olive oil, and freeze them in ice cube trays just like you would for basil or pesto. Speaking of basil, the dried stuff can’t compare with the sweet summer aroma you get from a frozen cube or two in a tomato sauce or vegetable soup. One important tip with the frozen scapes is to put them in glass jars since even in freezer bags their garlic scent can permeate your freezer.
Green beans and peas can be parboiled and bagged. Corn is even sweet enough to be frozen right off the cob. Strawberries, peaches and sour cherries, tomatillos, coriander … the list of possibilities is almost endless.
So by all means, join the farmers in assembling your seeds and maybe even plant a little lettuce or spinach in a cold frame soon. But you can also start planning all the great fruits and vegetables you can freeze this coming summer.
Speaking of so many things that grow, Audrey McDonald just sent us a picture of a hand of bananas growing happily in the greenhouse where she rents space!
We would love to see how your mushrooms are growing! Look at these fungi go!
This is the last week to get Nature’s Way popcorn and sweet potatoes before they take a short break to prepare for the busy season ahead.
The Sosnickis will return in May. Jessie says,”We are now going mad hatter in the ol’ glass greenhouse! We really need this time to grow!”
Sundance Harvest is off this week as well because they are battling aphids, the most common plague for greenhouse growers!
Fortunately Nith Valley has come to our rescue with fresh greens, storage vegetables and an assortment of their free-range chicken.
Repair Café will be at the market taking your broken and busted beauties away for fixing and mending. We’ve seen toaster ovens, hand fans, professional microphones, blenders, suitcases, belts, carts, sewing machines, and lots more roll through the depot. Even if you don’t have any fixables hanging around your house you can check in with your friends and neighbors and help stop more “junk” from piling up in landfills.