Freezing Fresh Peas

I recently picked up some purple hull and cream peas from my local Dallas Farmer’s Market and wanted to share with you how to freeze them. Purple Hull Peas are very popular here in the south because of the long hot growing season that we have. I don’t typically grow peas in my garden, but I always pick some up from the market this time of year to have on hand for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I look for pods that are about 50 percent purple as they are perfect for freezing. They should also be mixed with some light green tender pods.

Things You'll Need

  • Colander
  • Large pot
  • Wire basket with handle (if you don’t have a basket, no worries. Just place your peas directly into the pot)
  • Plastic freezer containers or freezer bags
  • Freezer tape
  • Indelible marker

You can use freezer bags to freeze your peas in which will give you more flexibility in the amount of peas you can fit into each package, based on how many portions you want. Once frozen, purple hull peas retain their flavor and quality for eight to 12 months

Steps to Freezing

  1. Rinse peas by running cold water over them while stirring gently with your hand. Examine them as you stir, removing any dark-colored or damaged peas. Place about a pound of the peas in a wire basket if you have one.
  2. Bring a gallon of water to a boil in a large pot. Immerse the wire basket in the boiling water and boil for one to two minutes. Begin timing when the water returns to a boil.
  3. Remove the peas from the boiling water and immediately run cold water over them. Cool the peas as quickly as possible to stop the cooking process
  4. Place the peas in plastic freezer containers or freezer bags. When using freezer containers, leave 1/2 inch of space between the top of the peas and the lip of the container.
  5. Label the containers using freezer tape and an indelible marker. Include the date on the labels.

Butternut Squash Soup

I have always enjoyed the taste of butternut squash. However, my real love for this wonderful squash really began just over a year ago when my daughter became ill. We learned how beneficial butternut squash was for her and we began researching all kinds of recipes using butternut squash.

Our favorite by far was butternut squash soup. I found a basic butternut squash recipe and tweaked it to include something that we really liked. I now make butternut squash soup on a regular basis and even had the opportunity to make my recipe using fresh organic squash from my friends garden all the way from New Jersey. See the photos on my Nuts for Butternut Squash blog post.

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

If your squash is huge, add more broth. If you squash is small start with maybe 3 cups of broth and add more as needed.

I hope you enjoy our version of this soup. Get creative and add your own twist like using a pear instead of an apple.

In this video I demonstrate how to prepare this delicious butternut squash soup.

Getting to the “Root” of Ginger Root

There is nothing better than the flavor of fresh ginger. I keep ginger in my kitchen right along with the onions, shallots and garlic. If you have never cooked with ginger, you gotta give it a try. Be careful though - a little bit of ginger goes a long way. Wait until you see all of the health benefits you’ll also gain.

Did you know you can also freeze tightly wrapped fresh ginger root for up to six months or keep it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

So let’s get to the root of things….

Selecting Good Quality Ginger Root

Look for plump large pieces of ginger root as they will be more moist and more flavorful.

You also want to look for pieces of ginger root that are straight and rectangular in shape, with as few bumps and knobs as possible. It will make them easier to peel and prepare

The skin of the ginger root should be firm and unblemished, apart from the rough, dried patch where the piece was cut. You do not want to buy anything that is wrinkled, soft or covered in mold.

Smell it – It should smell strong. Quality ginger will smell peppery or have a slight aroma of citrus. If it's fresh, it should smell pungent and sharp.

Peeling Ginger Root

Cut off the appropriate amount for your recipe. If you’re following a particular recipe, use the amount of ginger the recipe indicates – it’s sort of weird the way it’s explained. You’ll see that most recipes quantify ginger in inches rather than weight or volume.

Sometimes recipes will call for a “thumb’s worth” of ginger, which is exactly what it sounds like: a piece of ginger root the length of your thumb.

If you are not following a specific recipe, keep in mind that a little bit of ginger goes a long way – so start with a small piece, do a quick taste test and then you can add more if you need to.

Use a metal spoon to gently scrape away the skin. A spoon is the best way to remove the skin from the ginger root as it is quick, easy and avoids wasting any ginger. It’s easy to peel away too much.

Holding the ginger in one hand and the spoon in the other, use the inside top of the spoon to make firm, downward strokes along the piece of ginger

Dig the spoon over the little nubs that are often found on ginger root. The skin should come off with a gentle scrape leaving everything else behind

So does the spoon sound like just too much trouble?   Okay, then go with the quicker method of using a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife. Just keep in mind that you will probably take off a few extra layers of ginger.

Preparing Ginger for Cooking

You first have to decide whether you are going to chop it, grate it, mince it, cut it into matchsticks, etc. It all depends on the recipe you are using. Take a close look at your recipe. A soup may call for grated ginger while a stir fry recipe might tell you to chop it into matchsticks. Remember that ginger loses its flavor the longer it cooks. So if you really want to take advantage of its taste and smell, add it to your food towards the end of your cooking time. This will preserve its freshness.

CHOP or mince ginger if you want texture as well as flavor. When chopped into matchsticks, ginger is crispy and chewy

Small pieces of minced ginger in a pasta or rice will provide bursts of flavor in every bite. Larger pieces are great in soups and teas.

To chop the ginger, place the root on its side and make thin, coin-shaped slices. Then, stack several coins together and make a number of vertical slices, to make matchsticks.

MINCE the ginger by turning the matchsticks to the side and cutting across them, to form fine cubes. If you like, you can run your knife through the ginger a final time to get rid of any larger lumps. If you have a small chopper – use it. I also used my little Cuisinart chopper.

GRATE ginger when you want to add a strong aroma and fresh flavor to your food. Grating your ginger is quick and easy way to get superfine or even pureed ginger, which makes an excellent addition to tomato sauces or marinades

To grate, rub the piece of ginger against a microplane or a cheese grater. This will produce juicy grated ginger that looks and feels like a paste. You may want to grate the ginger over a bowl, to catch any juice.

Be careful when you get to the end of the ginger, as it can be easy to cut your fingers on the grater. You may need to use a knife to scrape off any ginger that's stuck to the grater.

Recipes using Ginger

You can use ginger in a variety of recipes. Ginger is such a versatile flavor, it is used across a broad array of recipes, from stir fries and soups to breads and teas. If you're looking for some new ideas on how to use ginger, here are some interesting you might want to try. recipes listed below?

Ginger Veggie Stir-Fry – this is a delicious easy stir-fry. Pick your own favorite veggies.

Blueberry and White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies

Ginger Broccoli

Make Ginger Tea

Make Candied Ginger

Make Ginger Snaps

Make Ginger Ale

Make Chicken with Ginger and Spring Onion

Make Ginger Chutney

Make Ginger Garlic Soup

Prepare Ginger Root for Cooking

 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER

Ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

Gastrointestinal Relief

A clue to ginger's success in eliminating gastrointestinal distress is offered by recent double-blind studies, which have demonstrated that ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness. In fact, in one study, ginger was shown to be far superior to Dramamine, a commonly used over-the-counter and prescription drug for motion sickness. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.

Safe and Effective Relief of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy

Ginger's anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the most severe form, hyperemesis gravidum, a condition which usually requires hospitalization.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.

Arthritis-related problems with your aging knees? Regularly spicing up your meals with fresh ginger may help, suggests a study published in a recent issue of Osteoarthritis Cartilage.

Protection against Colorectal Cancer

Gingerols, the main active components in ginger and the ones responsible for its distinctive flavor, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells, suggests research presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, a major meeting of cancer experts that took place in Phoenix, AZ, October 26-30, 2003.

Ginger Induces Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells

Lab experiments presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer, by Dr Rebecca Lui and her colleagues from the University of Michigan, showed that gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion).

Immune Boosting Action

Ginger can not only be warming on a cold day, but can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flus. A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification. German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections.

Ginger is so concentrated with active substances, you don't have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects. For nausea, ginger tea made by steeping one or two 1/2-inch slices (one 1/2-inch slice equals 2/3 of an ounce) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water will likely be all you need to settle your stomach. For arthritis, some people have found relief consuming as little as a 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger cooked in food, although in the studies noted above, patients who consumed more ginger reported quicker and better relief.

Courtesy of The World's Healthiest Foods - www.whfoods.org

 

 

Freezing 101

Freezing Bell Peppers and Onions

Freezing chopped peppers and onions is a great way to enjoy garden produce when summer days are long gone. Store frozen green peppers and onions in re-sealable freezer bags. Green peppers can be frozen for up to 6 months, and onions can be frozen up to 1 year.

Just picked bell peppers from my garden and from my sister Agnes' garden (in the pic below). We both had bell peppers in our summer and fall gardens. I still have several peppers growing, and they are so easy to grow. Check out the small pot that Agnes and I are picking from. No yard – no worry! Plan to freeze what I don’t eat, but might not be much left. So delicious!

Bell Peppers 7

What doesn't freeze well?

The quality and texture of certain items just don’t hold up after they are defrosted. I bet you’ve had this happen from time to time.

Casseroles – made with mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt or cream cheese will separate after thawing and might have an unappetizing, watery texture or curdled look.

Raw Produce – with high water content, such as cabbage, celery, lettuce, other leafy greens, cucumbers, radishes, watermelon, tomatoes and citrus fruits, become limp and waterlogged after thawing.

Cooked Potatoes – used in dishes like salads, soups or stews become soft, mealy and waterlogged after thawing. But mashed and twice-baked potatoes freeze well.

Cooked Pasta – used in soups or added to sauces before freezing may be soft and mushy after defrosting. For best results, undercook pasta before cooling and freezing.

Freezing Okra

Wash it, blanch it, cool it quickly and drain it on a paper towel. I like to slice mine, arrange it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place it in the freezer until it’s frozen. Then once frozen, I just place it in a heavy duty re-sealable plastic bag and return it to the freezer. And then pull out the amount I need for my recipe. When frozen this way, the okra is not all clumped together and you can remove individual pieces.

Where to Place Items in Your Freezer

I finally invested in a small deep freezer and it has become invaluable. But if you don’t have a deep freezer and are using the freezer attached to your refrigerator, here are a couple of good tips I’ve either learned on my own, or picked up from Taste of Home.

Keep Them Cold

Store meats and berries near the bottom or back of the freezer, where it is the coldest. If there is a power outage and food begins to thaw, the drips of water won’t leak onto the other food.

The Door

Because the door is opened so often, it’s warmer than other areas and best suited for freezing things like nuts, flour, juice and dairy products.

What Goes in the Far Back of the Freezer?

Here’s where you should put new unfrozen items because that’s where the freezer is the coldest. The low temps will help your food freeze quickly, preventing those dreaded ice crystals from forming on your food.