2012 Somewhere in Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Like I've said numerous times, this last year was a learning season. Not too long ago, Lance spoke to the man who owns Whipstone Farms in Chino Valley. When Lance stated his feeling about this past year, the farmer told him to expect to never quit learning. On one hand, sounds like there will never be a dull moment. On the other hand? Tires me out to think about it.
One thing we learned quite a bit about was preserving our harvested veggies and fruits to get us through the winter. Canning results showed their faults quickly. Each time a batch of three to five jars was finished, we could tell what needed to be adjusted. Some of those early jars are not full to the top. Recipes too were adjusted or tossed aside for different reasons. Christie found a great tomato soup recipe that didn't require the tomatoes to be peeled. Big time saver. And once she discovered the soup could be used for everything from soup to pasta sauce to Mexican dishes, she put more jars up.
Freezing results didn't show as quickly. We used freezer bags and sucked the air out before freezing. They looked vacuumed sealed and we got a lightheaded rush doing it. Our efforts didn't last long. We learned freezer bags are not as air tight as advertized. Many of our frozen veggies have frost bite and suffer from too much moisture. Many vegetables are supposed to be flash boiled before freezing. This is trickier than we thought. If it isn't processed very quickly, too much water is absorbed which equals soggy veggies when thawed. Cabbage is particularly susceptible to this problem.
An annoying but then again comical problem we encountered with freezing was the size of the bags we used. We often used the gallon size. It seemed reasonable to us that we could take out a meal portion from a large bag as we needed. Wet vegetables stick together - like in solid blocks. So we find ourselves chopping and hammering off the amount we need for a meal. Meal size bags might have been a better choice!
Before it's time to harvest and freeze this year, we'll invest in a proper system for freezing.
|This years favorite Christmas present - the dinner bell|
We're finding ways to use those soggy veggies. For instance, tonight's meal (besides steak on the grill) we had cabbage and onions from the freezer. I sauteed them in a little olive oil for a very long time until the moisture cooked out and they browned slightly. The okra was dipped in milk and mixed with cornmeal and also sauteed for a considerable amount of time. It clumps together but eventually gets crispy. And we had canned potatoes which have a unique flavor.
The learning curve? I kind of think it will keep on curving!