In keeping with Ed’s freezer theme (Psst! Did you catch my heroic save of the ice maker? Holla!), I’m going to tell you what I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been puttin’ up as my grandmother would say–puttin’ up beans, peas, corn, and blueberries to be exact.
Here’s the back story: Ed and I eat a lot of vegetables. A lot. As in, we pretty much only eat vegetables, so making the most of summer harvests is pretty important. When we bought our house, we bargained for the deep freezer we saw in the basement (along with the other appliances) and got it! I was ecstatic about putting up food like my grandparents and mom had. I honestly can’t remember a time in my entire childhood when my mom didn’t send me down to the basement freezer for pecans at Christmastime or green beans for any random night of the week’s dinner (both from my Papaw’s garden/pecan trees). I’m also enthralled with old folks. They just do it for me. I like listening to their stories; I crave their gardening advice; and I admire their ability to take care of basic tasks (like chopping firewood, growing food, and repairing a leaky sink). Oh, and the way they always share just makes me happy. You watch, the next time you’re with old folks, someone will try to give you some tomatoes, or maybe some preserves they put up last year, or maybe some random book about 1001 ways to use vinegar. How great is that? They just like to share! Sometimes they can be know-it-alls, but can’t we all? Ed will verify if given the chance–I’m way too into old folks. Can’t help it.
So, when I get the opportunity to play old lady for the day, I jump on it. Recently that opportunity came with major stash from the farmer’s market. In one Saturday alone, I came home with a bushel of corn, a bushel and a half of peas, and about a half a bushel of green beans. I’d also been given a couple quarts of blueberries. It was quite a take, I’d say.
The freezer we got with our house served us well for two years, but we had some pretty major rains this past spring and discovered a somewhat serious leak in our basement when we went down there one day and found nearly a foot of water. Yep, a good day it was not. Once the rain stopped, it drained pretty quickly, and we temporarily repaired the leak until we can permanently seal it (Ed will post about this soon). Everything was a little wet, but we got it aired out and had no major casualties.
Until we saw some condensation on the freezer door. Uh oh. We opened it and found that it wasn’t working. We called an appliance guy (electricity plus water is not for us to DIY), and he told us the flooding “blew out the compressor” and that it would be too expensive to fix on such an old freezer. Grrr. We madly rushed to get everything out of the deep freezer and into the freezer in our regular fridge. We crammed it in, closed the door, and hoped for the best. Most everything was okay, but we only had a few weeks before prime summer veggie time, and I wasn’t going to let the season get away from me without putting anything up.
Off to Lowe’s we went to price options. Then to Sears. Then back to Lowe’s, who had much lower prices. Ed convinced me to buy a smaller freezer than I wanted–I was reluctant but eventually gave in–we found a salesperson, paid, and set up the delivery/haul away. Oh, haul away was a stipulation for me. No way were the two of us going to try to figure out what in the world to do with the monstrosity in our basement. Ed was up for the task. I was not. Lowe’s was happy to do it. The next day. For free!
So, we got this guy.
He’s up on stilts just in case the basement ever floods again. We don’t think it will, but we figure you can never be too careful, so we gave him some height. It’s 9 cu ft (instead of the 15 we had), and it’s made by Frigidaire. Including the 2-year warranty, we paid a little over $300 for the freezer. Here’s a link to the product details if you like that sort of thing.
Now for the fun part. What I put in the freezer. Well, first I dealt with the bushel of corn. I took it from this
That’s right, I didn’t do a thing to that corn. Well, except tear off the brown parts of the tassles, which I don’t think is even necessary, but I did just in case. Per my grandmother’s insistence, I put up corn this way last year, and boy, am I glad I listened to her. The husk protected the corn from any freezer burn, and it was so much easier to peel once it had been frozen. We thawed some out one day to cook lunch for my mom and two grandmother’s, and all were raving about how good the sweet corn was. When grandmother’s rave about your home cookin’, you’ve done something right. Unless you are crazy (and you aren’t, right), you should never go to all that trouble of removing all the silks, cutting off the kernels from the cob, blanching, drying, etc. Just line those suckers up in 2-gal freezer bags (one bag will hold seven ears of corn) and throw the bags in the freezer. Donezo.
Next, I shelled the peas, which involved a pretty sweet set up because shelling peas is definitely not the piece of cake that corn is. Here’s my pea set up: sacks o’ peas and beans, sacks for empty pods, bowls for shelled peas.
Also, marathon TV on Netflix streaming. Old ladies might sit on the porch and gab, but I think it’s way too hot for that.
I watched somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 episodes of My So-Called Life while I shelled peas and snapped beans. It was a long day. And my fingers hurt. But I got it done. Also, Ed helped near the end.
After shelling, I blanched everything (90 sec/batch for the peas and 3 min/batch for the beans). In case you’ve never done this, here’s how it works:
- Put first batch in.
- Once blanched, immediately remove from water and plunge in ice water to stop cooking.
- While first batch cools, drop in second batch.
- Remove first batch from water and drain on cloth towels on the counter top. Drop second batch in ice water.
- Repeat for as many batches as you have.
If you’re a visual learner, here ya go.
Ice bath after blanching.
Drain and move to towels.
Bag up for the freezer.
It’s crazy easy. I had everything blanched, cooled, and drying in about a half an hour. FYI–that is about 6 hr less than it took me to shell and snap. Anyway, after the veggies were drained, I transferred them to small zip-top bags (about 2-3 cups/bag) and then put those bags into 2-gal freezer bags. By the way, double bagging is an excellent practice when you freeze–helps keep everything fresh and freezer-burn free.
Oh, and intermittently throughout the day, I dealt with the blueberries. They are even easier. Here’s how to freeze blueberries:
- Wash the berries and drain on kitchen towels.
- Lay the berries on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
- Place cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours until berries are frozen (they’ll be like little marbles rolling around).
- Transfer to zip-top bag or freezer container.
- Repeat as many times as you have batches.
By the end of the day, the new freezer was a little over half full, and we have many of the vegetables we’ll eat this winter. All of this will keep at least a year, and I’ll just repeat the process again next year when we run out.
So, for our house, we have one brand spankin’ new freezer, a truck-load of veggies, and dinners all winter long. Old ladies have all the fun.