Preserve The Harvest: Let’s Talk Sweet Potatoes

Preserve the Harvest: Let's Talk Sweet Potatoes PRESERVE THE HARVEST SERIES: SWEET POTATOES

Preserve the Harvest Series presents a new fruit or vegetable every month with the goal of helping you get the most out of fresh fruits and vegetables harvested during peak season. Whether you grow your own fruits and vegetables, buy them at the Farmer’s Market or your local grocery store, it is good to remember the best time to preserve your bounty is when it is plentiful. Preserving the harvest stocks your pantry shelves and freezer with whole foods that you can feel good about, foods that taste great, and this approach saves you money.  A sane approach to sustainability! Next up…Sweet Potatoes.

LET’S TALK SWEET POTATOES

Let’s first clear up a common misconception many have about sweet potatoes…they are not yams. Although similar, sweet potatoes and yams come from two entirely different families. Sweet potatoes come from the morning glory family while yams are found to be more closely related to lilies and grasses.  

Sweet potatoes have a variety of colors. Their skins range in color from white to yellow, red to purple and brown. The inner flesh may be white, orange, yellow or orange-red. They are also classified into two categories; firm or soft. Those classified as soft remain soft after cooking and those classified as firm remain firm.

Another interesting note is that here in the United States most of the “yams” we buy are actually sweet potatoes but of the firm variety. Yams can be found but they are harder to come by. The large majority of yams come from Africa, so a good place to look for the real thing would be an international market.

How to Freeze Sweet Potatoes WHEN TO BUY 

Sweet potatoes are available most of the year but are harvested in Fall. Buy in October – January for best quality.

WHERE TO BUY

Sweet potatoes can be found in farmer’s markets, health food stores and supermarkets. Choose organic whenever feasible for best quality and taste.

HOW TO CHOOSE 

Choose sweet potatoes that are heavy for their size, free from soft spots, blemishes and sprouting eyes. Handle gently; sweet potatoes bruise easily.

HOW TO STORE

Do not put sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. It is best to store them in a cool dark place with plenty of ventilation. 50 degrees is the ideal temperature. If stored properly sweet potatoes may keep for up to 3 months. If proper storage is not obtainable, buy only what you can consume in a week or consider freezing your sweet potatoes to preserve the harvest.

HOW TO GROW

The Coastal Homestead has an informative step by step tutorial on growing sweet potatoes in 5 easy steps. If you are looking to grow your own, this is a great place to start. Click here—>How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in 5 Easy Steps

Sun Basket HOW TO FREEZE SWEET POTATOES

When freezing sweet potatoes it is good to take a moment and consider what uses you will be using your sweet potatoes for. Choose either the firm or soft variety depending on your specific need. For example; choose a firm variety for soups and stews or a soft variety for mashed and pureed dishes.

Choose good quality sweet potatoes that are similar in size and shape and scrub sweet potatoes thoroughly before cooking. There are several methods that can be used when cooking your sweet potatoes in preparation for freezing. Baking, boilings, steaming, or pressure cooking will all do the trick. Choose the method that works best for you.

How to Freeze Sweet Potatoes
 
There are several methods that can be used when cooking your sweet potatoes in preparation for freezing. Baking, boilings, steaming, or pressure cooking will all do the trick. Choose the method that works best for you.
Ingredients
  • Cooked sweet potatoes, partially soft
  • Lemon juice or orange juice
Instructions
Preparing Cooked Sweet Potatoes
  1. Allow sweet potatoes to cool completely. If not peeled, remove skins.
  2. Mash, puree, quarter or slice according to preference.
To Prevent Darkening
  1. If sweet potatoes have been mashed or pureed, stir in 2 tablespoons orange or lemon juice to each quart of sweet potatoes.
  2. Dip whole, sliced or cubed sweet potatoes into a solution of ½ cup lemon juice to 1 quart of water.
Freezing
  1. Pack into containers leaving ½ " of room at the top of the container for expansion when frozen or vacuum seal as desired.
  2. Freeze.
Notes
Frozen sweet potatoes will maintain the freshest quality for 12 months or more depending on the packaging. Proper vacuum sealing may extend the storage time considerably.

Previous Posts From Pure Grace Farms you might Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resource links:

Library of Congress: Everyday Mysteries

National Center for Home Food Preservation

How to Freeze Sweet Potatoes shared with:

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop; Let’s Get Real Friday Party; FoodieFriDIYSavoring Saturday’s; Sunday’s Down UnderThe Mommy Monday Blog Hop; Tasty Tuesday: Wonderful Wednesday Blog HopThe Wednesday Round UpCreative Spark Link Party; Worthwhile WednesdaysCreate it Thursday; Let’s Get Real Friday Party

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 

How to Freeze Rhubarb in 3 Easy Steps

 

I searched the internet this morning for a rhubarb quote, determined to find something suitable to set off today’s post on how to freeze rhubarb. I mean really folks, a little inspiration here please. This is rhubarb we are talking about. I was easily supplied with the basics of Rhubarb via google…

rhu-barb   /ˈro͞oˌbärb/  noun 

  1. the thick leaf stalks of a cultivated plant of the dock family, which are reddish or green and eaten as a fruit after cooking.
  2. the large-leaved Eurasian plant that produces rhubarb.

 

Now don’t you feel informed?  But nowhere else does anyone have much to say about this good old tasty fruit.  

How to Freeze Rhubarb in 3 Easy Steps Determined not to let this obstacle stand in my way, I made a feeble attempt at an ode to the Rhubarb…and sorry to say, failed miserably. 

Poor neglected rhubarb. I would like to lift your spirits my little tart fruit and elevate your stature with all my heart, but alas, I am forced to leave my readers with a quote from the movie Batman, of all things. Spoken to Bruce Wayne by the Joker and referring to his relationship with Vicki Vale.

Never rub another man’s rhubarb! – The Joker

I feel your shame rhubarb, I feel your shame.

How to Freeze Rhubarb in 3 Easy Steps

How to Freeze Rhubarb in 3 Easy Steps
 
Ingredients
  • Fresh rhubarb stalks
Instructions
  1. Remove leafy stems from rhubarb, rinse well and pat dry. Cut rhubarb on diagonal in 1" to 1½" slices.
  2. Place rhubarb on parchment lined baking sheet, spaced without touching.Freeze until firm.
  3. Remove from freezer, place rhubarb in heavy duty freezer bag. Label and date, and return to freezer.

 

3 Easy Ways to Freeze Strawberries

Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream – they go together.- Nikki Giovanni

Strawberries are a sure signal that summer has arrived and is one of the first things I harvest out of my garden.

3 Easy Ways to Freeze Strawberries I can hardly wait for those beautiful white flowers to emerge and watch closely the progression from pale green little nobs into bright red juicy gems. In the beginning only one or two are ripe for the picking, and I have to admit, I can act like a bear just emerging from hibernation after a long winter… don’t mess with my berries!

3 Easy Ways to Freeze Strawberries One of the way’s I enjoy the pleasure of these summer strawberries all year long is by preserving them in the freezer. I have tried several methods but have found three that work best for me. I use brown sugar or honey for the Lightly Sweetened Syrup Pack, and the Dry Sugar Pack methods. In my experience, I’ve noticed that white sugar tends to bleach out the berries when thawed, but brown sugar seems to help them retain their color, and as a bonus lends a fresher taste to the strawberries as well. Honey can have a very distinctive flavor so it is important to use a milder form, like Clover, Locust, or Alfalfa. Honey is also sweeter cup for cup than sugar, so use about half as much as you would when using sugar. 

3 Easy Ways to Freeze Strawberries A few tips before you start – Always choose the freshest quality strawberries available for best results and taste. Wash your berries lightly right before preparing them and then hull your berries, this helps to prevent your berries from taking on too much water which can lead to waterlogged and mushy results. Always allow berries to air dry or lightly pat dry with paper towel, taking care not to bruise the berries while doing so. Water when frozen on berries causes an icy buildup which can reduce the quality of your berries and shorten their freezer life.

Method 1 – Freezing Strawberries Whole

Freezing Strawberries Whole
 
THINGS YOU WILL NEED: Colander. Paring knife or strawberry huller. Baking sheet. Wax or parchment paper. Heavy duty freezer bag or vacuum sealer.
Ingredients
  • Strawberries
Instructions
  1. Prepare strawberries by lightly rinsing to remove any dirt or debris and hull with a small paring knife or a strawberry huller (I like to remove the stem and a small amount of strawberry at the top to make an even edge so the berries will sit more easily on the baking sheet).
  2. Allow strawberries to air dry or lightly pat dry with paper towel taking care not to crush or bruise them.
  3. Prepare your baking sheet by placing wax paper or parchment paper on top.
  4. Place berries cut or hulled side down on baking sheet spaced where they are not touching.
  5. Place in coldest part of freezer and freeze until completely solid.
  6. Remove berries from freezer and place in heavy duty freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible and close or use vacuum sealer.
  7. Label, date and return to freezer.

Method 2 – Dry Sugar Pack

Method 3 – Light Syrup Pack

Shared on Thank Goodness It’s ThursdayLet’s get Real and Sweet Haute Link Up Parties where you will find other great tips, recipes, craft ideas and DIY’s.

 

4 Simple Steps For Preserving Asparagus

 

If we have a dollar to spend on some wild excess, we shall spend it on a book, not on asparagus out of season.  – Katharine Fullerton Gerould

Spring vegetables are overflowing in the markets this time of year.   I, for one, am excited to get my hands on a few of those great tasting lovelies. There is something about spring that brings out a craving for fresh, crispy vegetables and there’s no better time to buy asparagus, peas, and artichokes than right now. Buying in season is the most beneficial in terms of freshness and cost savings.

When buying spring vegetables, remember to purchase plenty to put away for later. It’s like money in the bank with the added benefit of enjoying a bit of fresh spring flavor throughout the year.

4 Simple Steps for Preserving Asparagus: Pure and Simple

My favorite springtime vegetable, without question, is asparagus. Unfortunately, it is one of the vegetables I have not yet planted here at Pure Grace Farms. So, when I saw asparagus at the bargain price of only 98 cents a pound at Winco (our fabulous local grocery store), I didn’t hesitate to buy a shopping cart full. It is a tasty delicious treat right now and I have more than enough to put away for later.

Preserving asparagus can be done by several methods. Canning, pickling, or freezing are a few ways that come to mind. Though, in my humble opinion, canning can be easily crossed of the list. When canning, asparagus is basically cooked to death. The texture turns mushy and leaves the asparagus resembling a stringy pudding. Not a bit appetizing to my way of thinking.

Pickling is a simple, fun, and tasty way to preserve, but for now this method will be taken off the table and saved for another day.

4 Simple Steps for Preserving Asparagus: Pure and Simple Freezing asparagus wins the prize and is mostly my preservation method of choice. It is important for me to acknowledge that freezing asparagus is a bit tricky, and many will not dare to tread down this dark alley.  It is also true that special care must be taken to preserve the best possible flavor and texture of the asparagus. But have no fear, be brave and come along with me. If a few simple rules are followed, home preservers can have every bit of success in serving up crisp fresh tasting asparagus as the large manufacturers do that stock it in your grocers freezer aisle.

4 Simple Steps for Preserving Asparagus: Pure and Simple Follow these 4 simple steps for preserving asparagus and you will enjoy delicious fresh tasting asparagus at reasonable prices long after the short growing season is over.

  1. Prior to freezing, cook your asparagus sparingly -Pre-treating asparagus is necessary to kill the enzymes that cause your asparagus to lose flavor and color during the freezing process. Choose a method that is effective but retains the crisp texture of the asparagus.
  2. Cool or chill the asparagus as quickly as possible after cooking to stop the cooking process -Yes, I know, an ice water bath is a pain in the tush but it is a necessary and vital step to getting great results when freezing asparagus. It should not be overlooked. When grilling asparagus, an ice water bath is not feasible, so make sure to get that asparagus in the coldest part of your refrigerator as quickly as you can, after it comes off the grill.
  3. Freeze in small batches to help facilitate a quicker freeze -When freezing, ice crystals form and cause damage to the cell walls of the asparagus, which in turn causes the asparagus to lose texture and get mushy. The quicker the freeze the less opportunity ice crystals have to form.
  4. Cook frozen asparagus from a frozen state (never thaw) -Texture is retained more effectively when asparagus is steamed or roasted after freezing. The asparagus is already partially cooked from pre-treatment so cooking just long enough to heat gives the best results.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest and Olive Oil

How to Freeze Grilled Asparagus

How to Freeze Steamed Asparagus