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.

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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.”
 

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood

15 WAYS TO KEEP FOOD FRESH

Ever wonder about how to keep your fruits and veggies fresh? Whether you buy them in the store or grow them at home, it is no fun to see them deteriorate almost right before your eyes. I am always in search of ways to keep my fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness for as long as possible, so when Hometalk approached me and asked if I would share my board on Keeping it Fresh I jumped at the chance. I knew this would be valuable to you, my readers, and it would also give you a chance to check out the great things going on at Hometalk if you haven’t already.

Here are a few of my favorites from Keeping it Fresh.

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood How to Grow Onions – How To Store Onions: The Seasoned Homemaker 

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood Keeping Berries Fresh: Adventures of a Busy Bee

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood Cleaning Garden Produce: Chaotically Creative

 

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood I Would be remiss if I didn’t share a few of my own ideas too! :)

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood Preserve your Homegrown Herbs in 3 Different Ways

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood How to Preserve Peppers in 3 Different Ways

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood How To Sun Dry Tomatoes

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood How to Preserve Home Grown Herbs with Sea Salt

15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh #foodstorage #fresh #wholefood #realfood

How to Make Infused Oil

Be sure to head over to Hometalk to see the rest of the 15 Ways to Keep Food Fresh and all the other great preserving, gardening and DIY ideas too. 

15 Ways to Keep your Food Fresh shared with:

*Memories by the Mile: Treasure Box Tuesday *Lou Lou Girls *April J Harris: Hearth and Soul  *Table for Seven: Share your Stuff *Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays *Recipes for our Daily Bread: Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop *Teach Inspire Love Raise: Wake up Wednesday *Crafty Allie: Worthwhile Wednesday *The Crafty Wife: Wednesday Roundup * Smart School House:Whimsy Wednesday * The Cookie Puzzle: Party in your PJ’s **Lamberts Lately: Create it Thursday *Sweet Haute: Sweet Haute  * 2 Crochet Hooks: Snickerdoodle Sunday  *Baking in Pyjamas: Sweet and Savoury Sunday

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.” 

Preserve the Harvest Series: How to Freeze Green Beans

Preserve the Harvest: How To Freeze Green Beans PRESERVE THE HARVEST SERIES: LET’S TALK GREEN BEANS

Preserve the Harvest Series presents a new fruit or vegetable every Tuesday 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…How to Freeze Green Beans.

Preserve the Harvest: How To Freeze Green Beans LET’S TALK GREEN BEANS

WHEN TO BUY GREEN BEANS

Green beans can be purchased almost any time of year but the best time to buy them is when they are in peak season in your area. That could range from anywhere between mid May through October all depending on the climate. Cooler areas will see beans peak later, while warmer climates like sunny southern California could see beans almost all year long. 

WHERE TO BUY GREEN BEANS

When buying green beans, just like any other fruit or vegetable it is always best to buy local when you can to get the freshest product available. Buying from your local farmer may not mean you always get the prettiest, but if taste is what you’re after, you can be sure they will have the best flavor. If you live in urban areas check out the Farmers Market, natural produce store or the organic section in your local grocery store. Most local grocers are now carrying organic produce. When the price is within reason, this is a great choice.

HOW TO CHOOSE GREEN BEANS

When buying green beans it is best to buy those that are loose rather than already prepackaged. This gives you the option of picking out the freshest available. The pods should be bright green, crisp and without blemishes. Avoid wilted pods as they have been sitting too long. Beans come in different sizes depending on variety. Choose beans that are not overly large for the variety, the larger beans may have grown too long and could be tough and stringy. 

STORING GREEN BEANS FOR THE FRESHEST FLAVOR

Use green beans as soon as you can to optimize flavor and nutrients. If you won’t be using the beans right away, store them unwashed in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Wash before using.

Preserve the Harvest: How To Freeze Green Beans HOW TO FREEZE GREEN BEANS

Green Beans require blanching, a high heat process that kills enzymes that cause the breakdown of sugar to starch. The breakdown is generally what causes the loss of flavor and texture in vegetables and fruits. There are several methods that can be used for blanching, but I prefer steaming when possible. This method stops the enzyme activity while still leaving much of the nutritional value of the food intact. Steaming is also one of the easiest methods without a lot of mess to clean up. Simple and effective works for me!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Preserve the Harvest: How to Freeze Green Beans
 
Green beans can be frozen whole, sliced or julienne depending on your preference. Snap or discard the stem end and prepare according to your preference to be frozen. Better yet, buy enough beans to prepare in a variety of ways.
Ingredients
  • Green Beans, washed stems removed and prepared as desired
  • Ice
Instructions
  1. Prepare ice bath for green Beans. Fill sink with ice and add cold water. Important to plunge green beans into ice bath after allotted steam time to stop the cooking process.
  2. Place green beans into steamer basket for large pan.
  3. Place about 1 -2 inches of water in large pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, place steamer basket filled with green beans into pan, cover with lid and set timer for 3 minutes.
  4. Once timer goes off, immediately remove green beans from pan, pour into colander and plunge into ice bath.
  5. Allow to cool for several minutes, remove from ice water bath, drain and shake to remove excess water.
  6. Place on flat baking sheets lined with parchment or wax paper, careful to keep the green beans from touching. Place in the coldest part of freezer until frozen solid. (about 1 hour).
  7. Once frozen, remove from freezer, place into heavy duty freezer bags or vacuum seal, as desired.
  8. Date and label. Will keep for up to 1 year.

 How to Freeze Green Beans shared with:

*Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays *New Mrs Adventures: Tasty Tuedays *Recipes for Our Daily Bread: Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop *Life with Garnish: Teach Me Tuesday *Smart School House: Whimsy Wednesday *Simply  Sweets: Party in Your PJ’s * The Crafty Wife: The Wednesday Roundup *To Work With My Hands: Wake Up Wednesday * Crafty Allie: Worthwhile Wednesdays *Sweet Haute La Dolce Vita: Sweet Haute * Gingerly Made: Show and Tell *Organized 31: Inspire us Thursday *Living Well Spending Less: Thrifty Thursday *The Pink Sprinkle: A Wholesome Bunch *Juggling Real food and Real Life: Let’s Get Real *It’s Your Life: Real Food Fridays *In the Kitchen with Jenny: Foodie Friends Friday * Snippets of Inspiration: Weekend Wine-Down *Homemaking with Style: Creative Style Link Up * 2 Crochet Hooks: Snickerdoodle Sunday *Sondra Lyn at Home: Share it Sunday * Baking In Pyjamas:Sweet and Savory Sunday *My Pinterventures: Merry Mondays *Mrs Tee Love Life Laughter: Mommy Monday Blog Hop

 

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.”

 

Preserve the Harvest Series: Blueberries and Blueberry Marmalade

Preserve the Harvest Series: Let's Talk Blueberries & Blueberry Marmalade PRESERVE THE HARVEST SERIES AND BLUEBERRY MARMALADE

Preserve the Harvest Series presents a new fruit or vegetable every Tuesday 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…Blueberries and Blueberry Marmalade.

Preserve the Harvest Series: Let's Talk Blueberries & Blueberry Marmalade LET’S TALK BLUEBERRIES

Growing Blueberries at Home

Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow organically, but proper preparation and patience are necessary to reap the full benefits. To grow properly blueberries require soil that is acidic, proper care for a shallow root system and plenty of water when fruiting. Blueberry plants take about 3 years before they begin to produce any sizeable amount of berries. Once fully mature you can expect about 8 quarts of berries per bush.

Read more about growing and caring for blueberries at About Home: How to Grow Blueberries in the Home Garden.

Purchasing Blueberries

Blueberries ripen somewhere between mid July to mid August making this the best time to purchase blueberries if you are not fortunate enough to grow your own. When purchasing blueberries, look for berries that look fresh, plump and unblemished. A refrigerated display case is the best place to look. After purchasing, blueberries should be refrigerated as well for maximum longevity. When handled properly fresh blueberries should last for 10 – 14 days. Wash berries prior to eating.

Freezing Blueberries

Blueberries may be frozen with great results. To freeze, rinse berries lightly and place on paper towel to soak up extra moisture. Arrange blueberries on a baking sheet in single layer and  place in the freezer until frozen solid. Once frozen, remove berries and place in heavy duty freezer bag or use vacuum sealer. Frozen berries can be stored up to a year. 

Preserve the Harvest Series: Let's Talk Blueberries & Blueberry Marmalade BLUEBERRY MARMALADE

Blueberries and citrus combine to make this unusual marmalade. I enjoy the extra bit of sweetness the blueberries add, giving a great tasting twist on a perennial favorite. This recipe was developed quite by accident while reading directions for two different recipes and then getting mixed up about which one I was actually making. I decided I couldn’t let all those lovely oranges and blueberries go to waste, so I threw the book out the window and went on a wing and a prayer. I love how this recipe came together.  I hope you will too!

The following recipe is processed using a water bath canning process. If you have never canned before or need a refresher the National Center for Home Food Preservation is the gold standard of information. I would encourage you to head over and read their general canning information.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Marmalade
 
Recipe will make approximately 6 pints.
Ingredients
  • 4 oranges
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 cups blueberries
  • 6 cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Remove thin outer rind from oranges with vegetable peeler or paring knife and cut into fine strips.
  2. Place rind, thinly slice lemons, and water in a large non-reactive pan.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat and gently boil for 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, remove remaining white pith from the oranges, cut in half (being careful to save juice from the oranges) and place all in a food processor.Process until finely chopped.
  5. Add chopped pulp and blueberries to orange mixture and return to a boil.
  6. Boil gently for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat, add sugar and bring to a rapid boil.
  8. With mixture uncovered, continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to gel.( about 35 minutes depending on moisture content of the berries) *see link below for how to tell when mixture will form a gel.
  9. Once thickened, remove from heat.
  10. Ladle into hot jars and process for 15 minutes.

Preserve the Harvest Series: Let's Talk Blueberries & Blueberry Marmalade

Recipe adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round

Three Ways to Test the Jellying Point for Jams and Jellies: http://www.portlandpreserve.com/TestingTheJellyPoint.pdf

Blueberry Marmalade shared with: *Thank you Honey: Whatever Wednesday *Crafty Allie: Worthwhile Wednesday’s *Smart Schoolhouse: Whimsy Wednesday * My Paper Craze: Creative Spark *Ducks n’ a Row:Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop *The Crafty Wife: Wednesday Roundup *Homestead Lady: Green Thumb Thursday *Yum Eating: The Yuck Stops Here *O Taste And See: Family Fun Friday *Juggling Real Food And Real Life: Let’s Get Real *The Deliberate Mom: Shine Blog Hop *Culinary Flavors: The Weekend Social  *The Pin Junkie: The Pin Junkie *Living Well Spending Less: Thrifty Thursday *The Cookie Puzzle: Party in Your PJ’S * Nancherrow: Friday’s Unfolded *The Diary of A Real Housewife: Foodie Friday’s *In the Kitchen With Jenny: Foodie Friends Friday Love Bakes Good Cakes: Freedom Friday’s *Captain America and His English Rose: The Pretty Pintastic Party *Create with Joy: Friendship Friday *Army wife to Suburban Life: Pin Your Friday Favorite *A Dish of Daily Life: Foodie Friday’s *What’s on The List: Say G’Day *Oh My Heartsie Girl: Weekends are Fun Party * New Mama Diaries: Creative Style LinkUp *2 Crochet Hooks: Snickerdoodle Sunday *Our Rosey Life: Share it Sunday *Our Simple Life: Happiness is Homemade * Create with Joy: Inspire Me Monday * Creative K Kids: Bloggers Brags *It’s a Ginger Snap: Motivate Me Monday * Plucky’s Second Thoughts *Yesterfood: Treasure Box Tuesday *Craving Some Creativity: Turn It Up Tuesday *Cupcakes and Crinoline: Project Inspired *Lou Lou Girls *Mandy’s Recipe Box: Totally Talented Tuesday’s *Crafty Spices: Wordless Wednesday * Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays *Create with Joy: Wordless Wednesday *Our Table For Seven: Share Your Stuff

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