Friday, May 23, 2008

Freezing Greens

The truth is, we almost always have more food growing in the garden than we can possibly eat at any one time. This is especially true as the temperatures grow warmer. All at once, our pretty little greens--the mustards and Chinese greens especially that we planted back in March--start to grow very tall and begin blooming.

Greens going to seed make a nice display, but it's a bit frustrating because we know the leaves that we had planned on eating will soon be inedible. The trick, I think, is finding a way to preserve the greens, so this year I've been spending my free moments sitting in the garden plucking tat soi plants and mustard green plants individually out of the ground and stripping them of their leaves and preparing them for freezing.

I don't mind this job at all. You sit on your butt and pull slender plants out of the soil and think about nothing in particular. It's another of those meditative acts in the garden that takes you away from your troubles, like composting or counting the holes in ceiling tiles.

The process is fairly simple. Once you've collected a heap of greens, put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Clean the greens thoroughly in the sink, then blanch them for two minutes in boiling water. Remove the greens from the pot and chill them in cold water. Let them sit in a colander a while to drain completely. Now you can pack the blanched greens in freezer bags and store them in the freezer for use later.

I envision these greens being braised at some point with onions and a little vinegar, maybe even some bacon. They could also be used as an ingredient in an egg dish, such as frittata, or in a soup or stew.

The best part about being able to store these greens is relieving some of the guilt I always feel over planting too many.


grace said...

ed, it looks like you're cooking the flowers, too? or do mine eyes deceive me?

Pam said...

I've been freezing greens too. Mainly collard greens. I envision them in the fall, with a nice ham hock or two!

WeekendFarmer said...

I meant to ask you - if I pinch off the top of the greens ...will they stop going to seed? The flowery mustard looks amazing. Reminds me of Mustard fields back in Bangladesh ...acres and acres of it...all yellow like that. Amazing!

Ed Bruske said...

Grace, what you see in the bucket are the stems stripped of leaves but flowers remaining. That is bound for the compost heap. What you don't see is the tub full of leaves that we plan to eat. Although, the flowers are edible. In fact, we served a cream of asparagus soup tonight for the parents at the school where I teach "food appreciation" and we garnished the soup with those very same mustard green flowers.

Pam, great idea, freezing collard greens. Definitely like the idea of collards with ham hock, good Southern fare.

WF, you can pinch off the flower buds till the cows come home. These greens still have a destiny to fulfill. They will not last much longer. They do look exactly like the fields of rape you would see in Asia, or even in Europe. I remember bicycling through France and being amazed by the site of acres of yellow flowers like these. They're all in the brassica family--flowers with four distinct petals, usually yellow, sometimes (arugula) pale white.

Diana Dyer said...

Hi Ed,
I used your post about freezing greens to actually harvest some of our "weeds" and freeze them. I now have an enormous pot of lamb's quarter leaves, stripped from their stem (I did that) and roots (my husband did this) all ready to throw into an even larger pot of boiling water following your easy to understand directions. So far we are eating our kale as fast as we can harvest it, sometimes I think we have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Yum, yum!