Harvesting Summer

They grow up so fast! I remember just yesterday, it seems, that they were just little sprouts. Yes, they say cucumbers should be thinned out to just a few per hill when they come up, but I didn’t have the heart to uproot many.
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I guess the recommendations were right. Look at my little sprouts now!
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I admit I am going to have way too many cucumbers. The blessing of cucumbers is that they are a wonderful fresh summer vegetable. However, they are not usually preserved except by pickling, and we can eat only so many pickles. This year, I am making dilled pickles, sweet pickles, bread & butter pickles, and I’m experimenting with candied dill pickles, our favorite type of pickle.

We have already picked our first Sunday dinner of green beans. Just scant weeks ago, they looked like this.
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Now our bush beans are filling out their raised garden bed like the troopers they are. I have no problem with a bumper crop of beans. Our family could eat them at every meal–bacon and onion beans, garlic and olive oil beans, bean salad, beans and butter… They also freeze beautifully. Last season we were still having green beans for Sunday dinner through March. This year, we may just make it until next harvest!
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FREEZING GREEN BEANS
1. Snap off stem ends of beans and rinse well in cold water.
2. Boil a large pot of water. Also prepare a large pot of ice water. Have extra ice on hand.
3. Bring water to a boil and add several hands full of fresh beans. Allow water to return to a boil and blanch the beans for 3 minutes.
4. Remove beans from water with a slotted utensil or strainer. Immediately plunge them in ice water and leave them until they are cool.
5. Drain beans and place in freezer bags in meal-sized portions. Freeze immediately.
6. Add more ice to ice water bath as needed to cool blanched beans quickly.  This stops the cooking cycle.  Beans should be blanched and still crisp when cooled, not cooked.

Homemade pickles and home-grown green beans add a bit of summer to all our winter meals.  LET THE HARVESTING  BEGIN!

About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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