I find it amusing that there are so many solutions and wonder rinses out on the shelves to clean produce. Let’s face it; in this day and age, what is on the outside of the produce is not the main concern. Genetically modified produce cannot be rinsed clean; therefore, these expensive vegetables baths are useless… and expensive!
I’m not going to lecture and start talking about what you should ban and what you should eat. Nope. But I will tell you this: local produce grown for flavor and not travel tastes a millions times better. The tomatoes are wicked sweet, the radishes are a little crisper and the corn is, well… amazing. It is allowed to grow to its fullest potential as it should on the vine as opposed to on a truck that still needs to travel 1000 plus miles.
I grew up eating vegetables that were in season for two reasons: 1. They were grown in our backyard and 2. It was too expensive at the grocery store to buy off-season produce. Not to mention my father bellowed that if it tastes like crap it’s not worth buying. What we did not freeze or can we did without… and imagine this… lived! It made the tomato sandwiches that much more amazing when they were made from a fresh red tomato from our backyard. This isn’t living “poor”; this is living on good whole foods. I feel like that is something that is easily confused in our society. Just because I eat red sauce and I use preserved tomatoes throughout the winter does not mean I’m depriving myself from nutrition like the grocers want me to believe.
Moving on. I go to a farm in Hebron, IL that has amazing produce at even better prices; Von Bergen's Country Market. Since I do not have the land for a garden, I go to the next best thing, which is a local farmer. Something that you encounter with organic produce is that there are bugs that are going to fight you for that produce. It’s just the way it is, and once you accept it you will learn to deal with it.
I found this amazing head of cauliflower at the farm this past weekend. Yes, it grows outside, in the ground. There is going to be a chance that there are creepy crawlies in there. Grab a bowl, a strainer, a paring knife, salt and some cold water and meet me in the kitchen.
Cut the florets off the cauliflower using the paring knife and put them into the strainer. Rinse the florets off with cool water. Put the cauliflower in the bowl and then pour about ¼ cup of salt over the florets making sure to sprinkle it over those tight spaces in the vegetable. Pour water over the salt and cauliflower and let sit for about 10 minute. Rinse the cauliflower thoroughly with cool water. If there were bugs hidden in there, the salt water would make them curl up and fall out when you rinse off the produce. Natural, cheap and easy… no miracle solutions in my kitchen!
Well, since I got such an amazing price and I absolutely LOVE cauliflower, I bought a ton and now obviously will be going into how to freeze the little morsels of goodness. It’s so easy you will not believe it. Yes, we have modernized our method and we choose to use a Food Saver to seal the frozen vegetables. Modernizing the technique allows us to keep vegetables so much longer and the taste is still amazing.
You will need a pot of boiling water and a bowl large enough to hold the cauliflower along with ice and water. You need to blanch it before you freeze it so that it gets rid of any bacteria. This means you put it in boiling hot water and then stop it very suddenly with the cold ice water bath. Cauliflower takes about 3 minutes in the boiling water and then about 5 minutes in the cold water bath until the produce is no longer warm. You don’t want to cook it, just prep it for freezing.
Split it up into Ziploc bags according to serving size. The hubs doesn’t eat cauliflower so I was able to get 7 single servings out of the one head of cauliflower. Did I mention organic produce can grow to be massive?! Then after closing the Ziploc bags and while getting the air out, put that into a food saver bag and seal it shut. It happens we have to do this double bagging with sweet corn, so we just continued with the cauliflower. If you do not have a lot of extra liquid and let the cauliflower drip a while, you don’t need to double bag.
I get it. People don’t understand why we do this anymore because it’s not like we live off the land in Alaska. You don’t HAVE to plan for a food disaster because there is always the store. Well, think of it this way. Delicious, locally grown, organic food at a FRACTION of what the markets charge for off-season produce in the winter. There you have it, hunker down for the winter – not only it is healthier, it’s cheaper!