Find yourself with a little extra time this week?
You might want to look at those abundant greens you have in the garden and then consider what you'll be looking at in another couple of months. Harsh weather followed by frost is what I'm seeing in my mind's eye—and that 2013 garden will quickly become history.
While we have a little pause in the heat, how about harvesting some greens and prepping them for freezing? You might even make a side dish for the holidays while you're at it!
I started one cool morning, by picking a basket full of Red Russian kale and a second basket full of curly blue Kale—I also grabbed a bunch of fresh sage because it looked so tempting.
Start by cooling and washing the greens in a sanitized sink, with a generous, cold water immersion rinse.
Then, decide what you'll do with them
For the Russian Red... I decided to blanch and freeze individual packets.
First, slice out the central, stiff stem, and rough-cut the leaves into halves.
Get a pot of water boiling.
Drop the leaves into the boiling water & cover, boiling for 2 minutes on the clock.
Meanwhile get a large colander ready, into which you'll pour your pot of water and kale.
Have a second large bowl or sanitized sink ready with an ice bath and immediately plunge your colander full of kale leaves into the ice water. The process of short-term boiling follwed by immediately chilling down is called blanching and , if you'll note--it brings out the beautful colors in product that is blanched.
When throuoghly cooled, drain, then layer into quart sized freezer bags.
Squeeze out all the air until the packets are flat, then zip-lock.
Stack and freeze on a freezer shelf.
This freezer bag size is perfect to pull out and use as a layer in a vegetable lasagne or steamed and sprinkled with lemon juice for a “bed” under a nice grilled salmon filet dinner or surrounding a roast on a platter, or (my favorite) layered with potatoes in a potato-kale casserole.
This idea would also work very well with Spinach or Swiss Chard. Smaller-sized bags of chopped, blanched greens of all types are also great to open and toss from the frozen state directly into stews and soups for added nutritional punch, or defrost and use in omelets and quiches. So make up some of these, too!
For the curly blue Kale... I decided to cook it down and freeze it for a side dish for the holidays—maybe as an accompaniment to a holiday ham?
After cleaning, I removed stems and rough chopped the de-stemmed leaves.
In a large pot, I sauteed 3 cloves of minced garlic and the now-chopped-up bunch of fresh sage leaves, in olive oil. I then added a 10.5 oz can of chicken broth. Once heated, I started adding the cut up kale leaves, adding more as the layers cooked limp, stirring the leaves with the chicken broth. That large basket of kale quickly cooked down. Finally I seasoned the now-much-smaller volume of cooked kale with salt, pepper, some red pepper flakes, and added 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1Tbsp of brown sugar—just enough acid and a touch of sweetness to counteract the bitterness inherent in cooked kale.
After it's done cooking, then freeze the kale and all the juices in a freezer container, label and tuck away in the freezer to pull out when the snow's flying.