Category Archives: Harvest Preservation

Preservation Technique: How to Store Pecans

 

Shelled pecans ready for the freezer! (Photo by Nao Ueda)

I love Arkansas pecans. Every year around this time, I buy about 20 pounds of pecans from Jody Hardin of Foodshed Farm. What do I do with that much amount of pecans? I shell ’em, freeze ’em, and enjoy ’em throughout the year.

Storing pecans is easy. Here is what you do:

  1. Select plump pecans that are uniform in color and size.
  2. Shell and clean pecans.
  3. Place them in freezer bags.
  4. Freeze.

Easy, huh? Shelled pecans can be kept in the freezer for up to two years. And they can be thawed and refrozen repeatedly during the two-year freezing period without loss of flavor or texture.

Wanna stock up on Arkansas pecans and enjoy them throughout the year? Buy them from the Arkansas Sustainability Network’s Local Food Club.

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Preservation Technique: Make & Freeze Pesto

I’ve been making a batch of pesto every weekend for the last several weeks so that I’ll have pesto during winter. Eddy and I LOVE pesto. Pasta with pesto, bread with pesto, shrimp pesto pizza…. YUM!

Several years ago, I made a big jar of pesto, thinking that it may last through the winter. Wrong! Eddy and I finished it before the year ended.

Since then, I err on the side of caution and freeze several jars of pesto.

Making pesto is easy. I use the following recipe from Mediterranean Basin Cooking by Santo & Mabel Formica.

  1. In a food processor, add 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 2 cloves garlic, and 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts.
  2. Blend for 1 minute, then slowly add 1 tightly packed cup of basil leaves; blend for 2 minutes.
  3. Slowly add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan while continuing to blend for an additional minute.

Since I’m a bit lazy, I just pour pesto in a container and freeze. Some people prefer to pour pesto in an ice cube tray to make frozen pesto cubes, which they then place in a freezer bag.

Last weekend, when I was making pesto, I ran out of pine nuts. I thought about moving several thousand pounds of steel, i.e., my car, to get more pine nuts, but instead, I used locally grown pecans that I preserved last year. Guess what? It turned out great! I think I may make basil pecan pesto from now on.

I used the following recipe to make basil pecan pesto:

  1. In a food processor, finely chop 1/2 cup toasted pecans.
  2. Add 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 1/3 cup Parmesan, 2 garlic cloves, and
  3. 1/2 tsp. sea salt and process.
  4. Slowly add 2/3 cup olive oil in a steady stream and process for about 10 more seconds.

I used basil from Vang Family Farm near Hensley and garlic from Armstead Mountain Farm Near Jerusalem to make both recipes. For basil pecan pesto, I used pecans from Hardin Farm near Grady.

Winter without pesto is a sad affair, so do yourself a favor and make and freeze pesto!

You Gotta Make Ricotta!

In a large pot, add citric acid solution to 1 gallon milk, mix thoroughly, and heat until 185-195 degrees F.

In a large pot, add citric acid solution to 1 gallon milk, mix thoroughly, and heat until 185-195 degrees F.

As soon as the curds and whey separate, turn off the heat. Allow to set undistrubed, for 10 minutes. Drain.

Enjoy! I made chocolate ricotta mousse with it. YUM!

Eddy and I still had about half a gallon of milk in our fridge when we picked up our CSA basket this past weekend. Guess what it came with? Another gallon of milk.

Eddy and I don’t drink a lot of milk, so when we find ourselves with excess milk, we turn it into cheese! This time, I used half a gallon of old milk and half a gallon of new milk to make whole milk ricotta.

Making ricotta is easy when using a recipe from Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you know how much I love that book. It is my cheesemaking bible.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon citric acid in 1/4 cup cool water.
  2. In a large pot, add citric acid solution to 1 gallon whole milk. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat the milk to 185 to 195 degrees F. Do not boil. Stir often to prevent scorching.
  4. As soon as the curds and whey separate, turn off the heat. Allow to set undistrubed, for 10 minutes.
  5. Line a colander with butter muslin. Ladle the curds into the colander. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese has reached the desired consistency.
  6. Enjoy! If enjoying later, store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Cheese should last 1-2 weeks.

Pretty easy, huh? Don’t have citric acid or butter muslin? If you live in central Arkansas, head to The Fermentables. If you live in northwest Arkansas, go to The Home Brewery.

Next time you find yourself with excess milk, don’t throw it away. Make cheese with it!

Tuesday To-Do: The ROOT Cafe Evening Food Preservation Workshop

the root cafeWHAT: Workshops will cover canning, freezing and proper techniques for cleaning and storing fresh veggies.

WHERE: Christ Episcopal Church (6th and Scott streets) in downtown Little Rock

WHEN: Tuesdays, July 6-September 14 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

COST: $10 (At the door – cash or check only)

The ROOT will provide hands-on instruction, all of the equipment, food to preserve, informational resources, a take-home sample, and refreshments.

You must provide an apron, pen and paper for note-taking (if desired), a towel, and a basket for transporting hot jars or other goodies.

Workshops will be based around what is seasonally available. Each week’s class content will be distributed through weekly emails, so sign up for The ROOT Cafe email list by contacting therootcafe@yahoo.com.

This week, participants will learn how to preserve apples.

Walk-ins are welcome!

For more information or to RSVP, contact therootcafe@yahoo.com.

Tuesday To-Do: The ROOT Cafe Evening Food Preservation Workshop

the root cafeWHAT: Workshops will cover canning, freezing and proper techniques for cleaning and storing fresh veggies.

WHERE: Christ Episcopal Church (6th and Scott streets) in downtown Little Rock

WHEN: Tuesdays, July 6-September 14 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

COST: $10 (At the door – cash or check only)

The ROOT will provide hands-on instruction, all of the equipment, food to preserve, informational resources, a take-home sample, and refreshments.

You must provide an apron, pen and paper for note-taking (if desired), a towel, and a basket for transporting hot jars or other goodies.

Workshops will be based around what is seasonally available. Each week’s class content will be distributed through weekly emails, so sign up for The ROOT Cafe email list by contacting therootcafe@yahoo.com.

This week, participants will learn how to preserve milk by making cheese.

Walk-ins are welcome!

For more information or to RSVP, contact therootcafe@yahoo.com.

Preservation Technique: How to Freeze Okra

Okra_22As some of you may know, I was born and raised in Japan. I moved to the U.S. when I was nine. The first city that I lived in the States was New Orleans. I quickly became hooked on Cajun and Creole food, and to this day, I love ’em!

My mother, who was born and raised in Japan and never even heard of New Orleans until she was thirty-two, learned how to cook gumbo. Boy, she makes good gumbo. Her gumbo is so good that it will put many gumbos that I’ve had to shame.

My partner, a South Carolinian, makes very good gumbo, too. He usually cooks gumbo in the winter because he is an energy Nazi and does not like to heat up the house during summer. In the winter, when he cooks gumbo, he uses okra that I put up.

Putting up okra is very easy. Here’s what you do:

  1. Wash.
  2. Cut off stems, being careful not to open the seed cells.
  3. Blanch in boiling water – small pods 3 minutes, large pots 4 minutes.
  4. Cool immediately; drain.
  5. Leave whole or cut in crosswise slices.
  6. Pack in a freezer bag, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom.
  7. Seal; freeze.

Last year I froze two bags of okra. They turned into mighty yummy chicken and shrimp gumbo during the cold months.

So this weekend, grab some okra at Certified Arkansas Farmers’ Market and freeze them!

Tuesday To-Do: The ROOT Cafe Evening Food Preservation Workshop

the root cafeWHAT: Workshops will cover canning, freezing and proper techniques for cleaning and storing fresh veggies.

WHERE: Christ Episcopal Church (6th and Scott streets) in downtown Little Rock

WHEN: Tuesdays, July 6-September 14 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

COST: $10 (At the door – cash or check only)

The ROOT will provide hands-on instruction, all of the equipment, food to preserve, informational resources, a take-home sample, and refreshments.

You must provide an apron, pen and paper for note-taking (if desired), a towel, and a basket for transporting hot jars or other goodies.

Workshops will be based around what is seasonally available. Each week’s class content will be distributed through weekly emails, so sign up for The ROOT Cafe email list by contacting therootcafe@yahoo.com.

This week, participants will learn all about how to preserve fresh vegetables by freezing.

Walk-ins are welcome!

For more information or to RSVP, contact therootcafe@yahoo.com.