Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eating Omily: Putting up the Harvest in a Hurry

Expect to see these mini-posts on a close-to daily basis. Think of it as an explanation for how one goes about eating locally and sustainably, or, to give it a snappy title, Eating Omily!

So many last-minute tasks before running out the door for an emergency trip home. Food related ones:

1. Blanch and freeze a pound of string beans from this week's farm share.

The blanching process: boiling for one minute, then submerging in ice-water to immediately drop the temperature, shuts down enzymes in the veggies that would contribute to their deteriorating even at freezing temperatures. Don't fear that watery submersion: by keeping it to a minute and chilling immediately afterward, the only nutrients you're losing are active enzymes, which you would have lost with any cooking process, or just via time, anyway.

2. Slice and freeze those chili peppers making their last gasp in the crisper. I want very much to pickle them once I have two pounds worth, but if I expect them to last long enough to accumulate that many, they need put in the deep chill.

I've never worked with chili peppers before; I can't handle the heat, but my husband is a fan, and pickling the chilies tames most of the heat while preserving the multifaceted flavors of these intriguing fruits. I must confess, that jalapeno smelled delicious while I was slicing it. I wasn't foolish enough to taste it; even after a thorough hand-washing, the finger I used to dig out the ribs and seeds from the peppers is still tingling, and the apricot I just ate was rather spicy as apricots go.

May I add, in honor of Shark Week, that sharks are invulnerable to capsaicin, the compound that makes chilies burn. True story: the brave men of Myth Busters pureed raw habaneros, those peppers that make jalapenos look like baby food, filled balloons with the puree, and attempted to repel sharks with them. The sharks ate the balloons, biting them so they exploded in their mouths, and did not react.

3. Throw the apricots in the fridge.

I've heard that refrigeration does not appreciably extend the life of droops, or stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, mangos, etc, but it does seem to help the cherries, and I don't have time at the moment to blanch, peel, halve, pit, and oven-dry the apricots. Maybe I will when I get home if they look a little sad, but I love them fresh and loathe them dried, so hopefully it will not come to that. On the other hand, I may do a batch anyway, since the husband is fond of them dried.

We've already eaten the big tomatoes, and dried the small ones, and I think the zuke, the cuke, the summer squash, the beets, the bell pepper, and the onions will do alright till we get home. I may fridge-pickle the zuke, cuke, and squash, so don't tear through my dilly bean supply so fast...


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