One of our goals for this summer is to preserve more produce so that we have more homegrown options during the winter. It's a little tough though, even with a CSA and an abundant backyard garden, because so much of what is at it's peak right now is really hard not to eat right away.
Josh helped at the booth of our CSA farmers from Grinnell Heritage Farm on Saturday and came home with the half crate of beets you see at the top, along with zucchini, squash, chard, kohlrabi, and kale. I immediately went for the zucchini and squash, sauteed in olive oil and butter topped with a bit of local Prairie Breeze cheese and salt, but we had to make a plan for the beets—especially the greens. There were about 30 bunches, so there was no earthly way that we could ever eat all of the greens fresh. Beets are one of our favorite veggies though, and we love the greens, so I figured that I should try to freeze them to use in savory pies and stews come winter.
It's a good thing I didn't have anything else planned for Sunday morning because it took a while (not complaining, just stating a fact!). I did a little online research and learned that I needed to blanch them before putting them into freezer bags with as much air sucked out as possible (so that they will turn out sort of like the frozen spinach you can buy at the store). I made a little assembly line—wash, blanch, ice bath, dry on a towel, separate the stems, bag them up. After about two hours, we have three hefty portions of prepared greens, along with two of inch-sized stems, into the deep freeze.
Josh has plans to pickle many of the actual beets and until them I will keep sneaking one here and there to dice and grate into salads. And so even though I thought, more than once, that eating locally can be a lot of work, I am already glad that we're planning ahead for the months when it will feel like a treat to have these greens.