Working Off the Harvest

October 29, 2008 at 9:44 am

Rob Gardner

In our feature on storage and preservation, we make the twin points that these are on-going tasks as well as tasks especially suited and needed in the harvest season.  At this point of year, the harvest is essentially over, but the need to work through the bounty is still acute.  It is not so much that we are canning tomatoes anymore, it’s that we have to deal with all the food we have.  We have a lot of food because of big CSA boxes in recent weeks, and we have a lot of food because I’m busy doing things like buying the last red peppers I can find.  A lot of the food we have, will stick around, the potatoes, the beets, the celery roots, but all those red peppers and such, well some food is not forever.   I plan on some work today.  This on top of work the other day and work my hard workin’ wife did on Monday.

  • Vegetable stew – On Monday my wife made a big batch of this to use up certain older veg.  Sweat an onion in some olive oil.  Add the near dregs of the fridge, here 1/2 cauliflower, the remaining green beans and two eggplants with some bad parts cut-out.  Find some decent liquid, here a mixture of tomato sauce and vegetable stock.  Season.  Cook until all is soft enough. 
  • Roasted sweet potatoes – Somehow, I think a mistake, we ended up with a few extra sweet potatoes that had big nicks in them, the result of having to cut around squirrel bites.  Because these would not be long keepers, they needed sooner cooking.  Peel.  Chunk.  Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment.  Coat the potato chunks with oil.  Season.  Roast until soft at 350.  Leftovers microwave well or can be turned into a sweet potato salad.
  • Roast some more peppers – The ongoing ordeal, but roasted peppers will last a lot longer, in oil, than non-roasted peppers.  Trying the broiler this time.  I have to say it smells a lot nicer this way.
  • Freeze some peppers – As KennyZ pointed out with the preservation article, peppers (being a fruit) can be frozen without any blanching.  Frozen peppers turn limp but can be otherwise used in pastas and cooked dishes.
  • Mixed pickle – Using Claudia Roden’s recipe for mixed vegetable pickle in The Book of Jewish Food, with a few spicing twists of my own (read turmeric).  This will deal with some cabbage that is otherwise not diminishing, some carrots, a turnip or two, some peppers, hot and sweet, and maybe some cauliflower.  Oh, and the one stalk of broccoli I forgot to freeze the other day.
  • Turnip pickles – The pink kind found in Middle Eastern restaurants.  Ms. Roden (whom I love) has a recipe for these too.  I might not do these today though.

Except for the peppers going in the freezer, nothing else is being truly preserved.  Instead, I and my wife are just doing things to make it last longer.  Cooking extends vegetable life.  Pickles extend their life even more.  Keeping in oil, as with the peppers, is also an extender.  All of these things will ensure that this Local Family has plenty of local food to eat for the week’s ahead. 

How are you working off the harvest?