by Charlene Burgi
Is your vegetable garden producing more than you can eat? Are your neighbors shutting their curtains and locking the door as they see you approach with baskets laden with the fruits of your labor? This abundance doesn’t require throwing your crops into the compost bin.
What to do?
- Extra fruit and vegetables can be dried in a dehydrator. It is as simple as washing the fruit, cutting it into thin slices and setting the slices on a rack to dry. Many microwaves and electric ovens come with directions if you don’t have a dehydrator.
- Freezer jam is another great way to process the excess from the garden and takes little time to make. It can be made with or without sugar and retains the fresh fruit flavor that is lost with cooked jam.
- Zucchini flowers can be picked and cooked before the fruit forms. This is a sure way to decrease production of fruit. (See below for an authentic recipe from my Italian grandmother and a delicacy beyond words.)
- Tomatoes can be picked when ripe, washed and placed in freezer bags. During the year, remove individual tomatoes from the freezer to add to stews and sauces. To peel, dip in hot water and the skin will fall off.
- Are apples in abundance? Use your favorite pie plate as a template to prep for future desserts. Make the filling for apple pie and put it into a freezer bag. Form the bag contents into the pie plate and insert the plate and filling mix into the freezer. When the mix is frozen, remove the pie plate from the freezer and the apple pie filling is ready to go into a crust and into the oven months later. You can even stack up multiple pie fillings since the bottom is as flat as your pie plate.
- Dried herbs can also lose their flavor. Snip your favorites into a small freezer bag and use as needed.
Noni’s Zucchini Blossoms
18 zucchini blossoms
1 cup whole milk
3 heaping tablespoons flour
An egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil for frying
Trim the stems of the zucchini blossoms and gently remove the pistils. Wash the blossoms and pat dry. They will tear easily so be careful when handling.
Prepare the batter by combining the milk, flour and egg.
Heat the oil.
Lightly salt the zucchini blossoms, dredge them in the batter, fry until golden, drain on absorbent paper, and serve hot.