The fruit is ripe and round and bright... deep in the heart of summer.
By Mark Mulcahy
My apologies for taking liberties with Deep in the Heart of Texas but you must admit there is lots to get excited about this time of year. If you find yourself sitting at the kitchen table grinning at the cornucopia of Melissa’s organic summer bounty filling your fruit bowl, you're probably not alone; It’s hard not to appreciate this gift of summer goodness. You are more than likely trying to decide if you should eat the fresh organic cantaloupe or the watermelon for breakfast! Or should I make another amazing organic tomato sandwich for lunch. You know the ones where tomato is the featured flavor cut into a ½ inch slice on your favorite bread with just a spread of mayo.
Well, before you start enjoying today’s abundance you may want to start thinking about winter. That’s right, Winter meals! Sorry for throwing a wrench into your late summer daydream but consider this. There is nothing like that Melissa’s organic summer tomato, peach, melon, or green bean taste to cure the wintertime blues. And, with the abundance comes the best prices of the summer so doing some work now could bring very pleasant results in December. No, you don’t have to take a canning or pickling class, you can use your freezer to save some summer and it’s not as hard as you think. Why not freeze some tomatoes for sauce. Try this technique, it’s easy and yields great results.
Tomatoes may be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or puréed. Additionally, you can freeze them raw or cooked, as juice or sauce, or prepared in the recipe of your choice. Thawed raw tomatoes may be used in any cooked-tomato recipe. Do not try to substitute them for fresh tomatoes, however, since freezing causes their texture to become mushy. Tomatoes should be seasoned just before serving rather than before freezing; freezing may either strengthen or weaken seasonings such as garlic, onion, and herbs.
Preparation: Select firm, ripe tomatoes for freezing. Sort the tomatoes, discarding any that are spoiled. Wash them in clean water as recommended above. Dry them by blotting with a clean cloth or paper towels.
Freezing whole tomatoes with peels: Prepare tomatoes as described above. Cut away the stem scar. Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze. Tomatoes do not need to be blanched before freezing. Once frozen, transfer the tomatoes from the cookie sheets into freezer bags or other containers. Seal tightly. To use the frozen tomatoes, remove them from the freezer a few at a time or all at once. To peel, just run a frozen tomato under warm water in the kitchen sink. Its skin will slip off easily.
Now that we have our sauce covered how about some melons? Choose a favorite like Cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Honeydew, or Watermelon.
Preparation: Select firm-fleshed, well-colored, ripe melons. Cut in half, remove seeds and rind. Cut melons into slices, cubes or balls.
To freeze green beans -steam the green beans for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let them cool thoroughly before placing them in freezer bags and storing them in your freezer.
Freezer Pack: Pack into freezer stable containers, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze. And of course, you’ll want some green beans this winter!
Blueberries for pancakes are a must!
And my favorite fruit of all, amazing organic peaches.
To freeze blueberries, place fresh berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze them right from the container—be sure to not wash before freezing. If you find it hard to not wash your berries before you freeze then try this easy washing tip. Place in a colander and submerge two or three times in a sink full of cold water. Drain well.
Place them on an absorbent terry cloth towel and pat dry (very gently) before freezing.
Once frozen, transfer to a resealable plastic bag and store.
With all this luscious organic peak summer food saved, wintertime is looking pretty good. I can taste the pie in November now.
Place peeled and pitted peach slices on a baking sheet in a single layer.
For best results try to have them not touching for more even freezing on all slices.
Once frozen, transfer to a reseal able plastic bag and store.