30 April 2012

Save Money, Grow It Yourself!

Welcome to Part 3 of a three-part series by Mary Hudak-Collins of Living With Food Allergies and Celiac Disease!
Thanks, Mary, for teaching us so much!
Photo credit: Dan on Freedigitalphotos.net


Zucchini.  This is one of my favorite food items!  It grows plentiful and can be used in a variety of foods.  Fresh from the garden, it can be used in stir-fry, sauteed with yellow squash and onions for a side dish, sliced in half and baked, or add to a gluten free cornbread mix for a twist of flavor.  We all know that if you plant one zucchini plant, you will have enough to share plus have left over leaving you wondering what to do with it.


Have you ever tried to purchase gluten, corn free sweet relish?  I never could find any, so I make my own.  


Directions: Take about 10-12 cups of shredded zucchini, approx. 3-4 cups of chopped onion, 3 tablespoons of salt, 4 cups of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard (if you cannot find gluten free, you can grind mustard seeds in a coffee grinder), 2 1/2 cups rice vinegar, and 3 cups green and red peppers (mixed for color).  Put your zucchini and onions in a very large bowl and add salt.  Let it sit overnight.  Put in large strainer and rinse well.  When drained, transfer to pot and add the sugar, dry mustard, rice vinegar, and peppers, boiling for 5 minutes.  Pack in jars and seal.  Makes approx. 7 pints.


I'm sure you can't spend your entire summer canning in the kitchen, so if you don't want to throw your extra zucchini away, just shred it and freeze it.  Measure out about 2 cups more than what you need in the recipe because when you thaw out and drain, your total amount of zucchini will decrease when you lose the water content.  During the winter, when you have a free weekend, take out a couple of bags and can up a batch of relish.  This is always a great Christmas gift and they don't have to have a special dietary need to enjoy it!
Cabbage


Cabbage.  This past summer, I experimented with freezing cabbage.  It's wonderful!  We had a whole row of green and red cabbage.  When they were ready for picking, I chopped them up and froze them.  I use it primarily for frying and found that it is best that my pan be heated prior to removing the cabbage from the freezer to cook.


Green Beans


Throughout the summer, we grow green beans, but this is a favorite, so I supplement with store bought.  I wash them thoroughly and trim before freezing in gallon freezer bags.  Again, I have found that if I wait until my water is boiling before removing the beans from freezer to add, they maintain their freshness.  You can't tell they were ever frozen.


Cucumbers
Cucumbers.  This is not an item that I have ever tried to freeze.  This is a food item that doesn't last long in our house.  I do make bread and butter pickles about every other year and serve as a side condiment.




Pumpkin 


One of the most exciting foods I worked with this year is pumpkin.  You can purchase pumpkin inexpensively around Halloween, especially if you wait until Oct. 30th, or even the 31st.  Baking pumpkins included.  The pulp can be removed and canned or frozen. 


Pumpkin Muffins
The pulp can be used for other than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.  Pumpkin muffins and pancakes are a wonderful change for breakfast.  Check your recipes ahead of time, measure out the amount needed (marking your bags with amount in each), and the night before you plan to make your muffins or pancakes, just pull out of the freezer and thaw.




Pumpkin Seeds
If you like pumpkin seeds roasted or baked, don't throw away that pumpkin you used for a Halloween decoration.  The Internet has so many different recipes for just about every kind of pumpkin seed, it's incredible.  I tried 2 or 3 new recipes, stored the seeds in canning jars, then gave them away as Christmas gifts.


Potato
Last, but not least...potatoes.  Potatoes are easier to purchase a 50 or 100 lb. bag in the store than to garden them, in my opinion.  But this versatile food is so easy to freeze any way you like.  Do you like mashed potatoes?  Make several pots and freeze for an evening meal.  Fried potatoes?  Prepare you potatoes as you would to make home fries.  Do not cook completely though, only until they begin to get brown.  Remove from oven, cool completely, place in bag and freeze.  When you are ready to use them, preheat oven to 425 degrees, remove potatoes from freezer and place on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes (or until done).
French Fries...yum!


Who doesn't love french fries?  Although you can buy gluten free fries in the freezer section, I love having my own and knowing what is in the coating.  In a gallon baggie, pour some oil (approx. 3/4 cups for 10-15 potatoes), add salt and pepper to your taste.  I use grape seed or olive oil.


You can peel or not, this is a personal preference, and cut your potato slices the size you prefer.  Place on a greased baking sheet in a preheated 425 degree oven, and bake until slightly brown.  Remove and cool completely.  Place in freezer bags and freeze.  When you are ready to have french fries, preheat oven to 425 degrees, remove bag of potatoes and bake till crisp (about 30 min.).


I suggest that if you decide to take on the potato project, you recruit some help.  It is best is you have someone that can peel, someone to slice, and someone to watch the oven.  It is nearly impossible to do by yourself!


I hope that this post has been informational in it's content.  Please feel free to share your comments in the comment section, hope to see you back again soon.


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