My friends tease me for saying "I can make that" whenever we go shopping anywhere (or out to eat!)but they love that I can craft things that I would otherwise buy for more money. If you like what you see, check out some of my other projects at Monzanita's. Leave me a comment if you have any questions or suggestions!

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A Day After a Good Farmer’s Market- Cooking and Prepping Veggies

Image courtesy of Netty Riggs

After a good Farmer’s Market you need to do something with all the extra vegetables that you won’t use soon enough. I went to the last Market on the Move for the season (they start up again in October) I don’t have canning supplies, most of my food saving is done in my freezer. All you need to spend money on is a few zip-lock bags and you’re set. No need to purchase canning equipment if you have space in your freezer. Take a look and see the order of how I use every last bit of my veggies.

First the kitchen is prepared for a big day of cooking. This doesn’t mean mop the floor, it’s just going to get dirty. This means make sure all of your dishes are clean and that your sink and counters are free. Clean out the freezer and fridge if needed.

You also want to plan what you will be doing with those veggies. I knew I wanted to make zucchini bread, marinara sauce and soup so I was able to prepare some of the veggies for those things and keep some fresh too. The rest I knew were going to be frozen for a later day.

There are many good resources on the internet for how to preserve your veggies. The sources I have used are listed at the end of the post.

To start, grab a cutting board and a favorite knife. I started with the peppers. Dice the green peppers (or chop them into slices or halve them, I choose dice because that’s how I figured out I used them most) and put all of the vegetable scraps into an extra bowl for making vegetable stock later. Boil a large pot of water and get another bowl and fill it with ice water. Blanch the peppers for a few minutes in the boiling water and then strain them (but the strainer is over another large pot or bowl) and then dump them into the ice water. Put the hot water back into the bowl and bring it back to a boil for when I need it again in a minute.

Next I put my chili peppers on the dehydrator out on the porch (because I don’t want to heat up my house more than I have to). They stay out there for about a day and a half.

Next, cut up some zucchini into big chunks. They can be cut up finer or shredded later if needed. They are blanched in boiling water, and then the peppers are taken out of the ice water, using the stainer again. After a couple minutes the zucchini needs to be moved to your new bowl of ice water, just like the peppers were. You still need your boiling water, so save that again also.

Next, put your tomatoes in the boiling water for a few minutes. While waiting, your peppers can be dried and placed in zip lock bags. If they are still hot leave them out, if not put them in the freezer.

Take the tomatoes out with tongs and put them in ice water. Put more tomatoes into the boiling water. About the time the ice melts the tomatoes are cool enough and you can bring them over to your cutting board.

Make sure to keep the tomatoes rotating through the boiling water and the ice water while you work on preparing the cooled tomatoes. The tomatoes need to be cut in half, and then have the skins peeled off and put in the scrap bowl. Then you will squeeze the tomatoes in your hands to get out all of the juice and seeds. Put your squashed tomato in another bowl. Do this until you use up all of your tomatoes that were designated for marinara sauce.

The bowl of tomatoes will probably still have juices in it, so drain those out into your veggie scraps bowl and then you can bag your tomatoes. They should be frozen flat, and then they can be cooked into spaghetti sauce later, all you need is spices.

Once you have finished with all of your veggies you can get to the vegetable stock. Check out the link for exact instructions, but I just make sure there is a good mix of my veggies (about 1/3 of a pot) and fill the rest with water. I let it simmer for a few hours, either on the stove or in the crock pot on high (I do this and keep it in the garage, so it doesn’t heat up my house).

Once the vegetables have simmered for awhile the juices can be strained into a bowl with a strainer, and then strained into a jar using cheesecloth. I re-use glass jars and butter containers to freeze my vegetable juice, just be sure to leave plenty of space at the top so it has room to expand! (I may or may not have missed this part the first time and had broken glass jars all over my freezer.)

If you want to keep some of your prepared vegetables out for the next couple days of meals that would be a good idea too. I left out a pan of marinara sauce, and made soup using the vegetable juice

Feezing Tomatoes (.pdf)
How to Freeze Peppers
How to Freeze Zucchini
Making Vegetable Stock