Now that the wonderful produce from the garden needs preserving, let’s talk about how to get the job done as fast as possible and get out of that hot kitchen lickety-split.
Today’s vegetable is beet greens, one of our favorite treats. In fact, we love beet greens so much, we planted two rows of them and will not allow them to mature to beets. We will just pull them and use them for greens. These instructions will work well for any type greens you cook, though.
- The first step is not to pick the greens, but to heat the blanch water, which takes a long time. If you have an exhaust fan over your stove, you will be glad if you turn it on.
- Now pull or cut your greens. I like to lay mine in a bushel basket as I pick them. Here you see them after a light rinsing. Now I place them in a five-gallon bucket and fill with water. After sloshing them around a bit, I place them into the basket again, tip it to allow most of the water out, and take it indoors.
- To finish washing greens, I like to use my clothes washing machine. I always wash a bleach load of towels as the last laundry use, so my washer is bleached. Using the large load and gentle rinse setting, I fill it with cold water and add about 1/3 bushel greens. NO SOAP! I allow it to agitate for 3 to 4 minutes, then stop the cycle and allow it to sit for a few minutes. The greens will float and I scoop them off the top half of the water, into a clean pan or bowl. They will be a bit torn, but we are going to chew them, anyway, right? I then allow the cycle to complete, including the spin portion. (Hint: I always fold or iron clothes while waiting for this, so I do not forget it.)
- In the bottom of the washer will be debris, which you should remove and save for your chickens. Then repeat step 3 to rinse another 1/3 bushel. Although this may seem like using too much water, the alternative is to wash them a few at a time in the sink, using at least seven pans of water for each fourth bushel. The mechanized way is much faster, and I don’t think it wastes water.
- To prepare your kitchen, gather a couple strainers, one that will work in the boiling pan, and one that will stand in the sink. Fill either a very clean sink, or a large pan or bowl with cold water.
- Once the blanch water boils, fill a strainer with raw greens, and carefully lower into water. Cover pan and wait 4 minutes. Using a potholder, raise greens from boiling water and allow to drip a moment. Then plunge blanched greens into the cold water. Stir them gently to help cool quickly. Then transfer to standing strainer to drip before dumping into clean pan or bowl. Repeat this step until all greens are blanched.
- I started with a bushel, but ended with this, which the pan says is 8 quarts, but only made six, when packed down.
- Box or bag for the freezer, and label with date and contents.
Too much work? You’ve never tasted fresh beet greens . . .