Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Preserving Hardy Greens

Freezing, Dehydrating, Canning, Juicing, and Fermenting

1. Freezing

This is the easiest, and probably the best, solution. Assuming you’ve got a good freezer, these will keep very well for a year. We use ours all winter in soups, stews, pastas, dips, and even just sauteed with garlic. They shrink dramatically when blanched—plan on about a pound of fresh greens to make about two cups.
For most people, this is the way to go. If, however, you have limited freezer space, you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, or are planning for a future without electricity, you may need other options. 
The standard freezing method:
1) Wash: Clean sink thoroughly and immerse greens in cool water. Dirt will sink and other things will float. Great way to wash lots of lettuce too.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boiling.


2) Cut off the biggest stems if you like
3) Put the greens in the water and return them to a boil. Cook them for about 1 1/2 minutes. (To the newly initiated: this is called “blanching.”) Note that they won’t really be cooked through. That’s ok, because presumably you will cook them more when you thaw them out and use them.
4) Drain them and immediately chill in the ice bath in your clean sink. 
5) When they're cold, put them in a plastic bag, glass jar or other freezer container or vacuum sealer. Remove as much air as possible. Label.
A different, and probably easier, approach:
1. Wash
2. Remove as much of the large stems as you'd like
3. Pack into blender with some water.
4. Blend
5. Fill ice cube trays with your liquified kale cubes
Put in smoothies, drop them into sauces to boost nutrition, defrost and add a cube to chocolate zucchini bread.
2. Dehydrating
Dehydrate at low temperature, about 110 degrees, for 2 hours. They come out kind of flavorless, but crumble well. So, if sprinkling them atop your dishes for a boost of flavorless nutrition is your goal then dehydrating may be the way to go for you. Easily Stored: Crumble and keep in glass jars, like spices. 
3. Canning
I have canned spinach before, but the flavor came out nonexistent. You'll need a pressure canner, boiling water bath won't do. And, cooking the greens at such a high heat and pressure for over an hour probably zaps much of the nutrition.
But, it's doable and the greens would probably make a good dip base as they come out so soft.
4. Juicing
Juice it, if you have a juicer, and freeze in batches.
5. Fermenting
Another option, tho I am not an expert, but have had a couple fermenting successes. Here is a website that'll get you going with your fermented kale: http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2009/07/different-spin-on-kraut.html

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