For me, the hardest thing about eating locally (or at least semi-locally) is setting aside some of the harvest for winter—but some vegetables are easier to sacrifice than others. Like, say, turnip greens. As you can see from this most recent shot of one of my garden plots, turnip greens grow back quickly.
The turnip greens are those big bushy things near the bottom. They were planted all at once, but the greens on the left were cut about a week and a half ago, the greens in the middle were cut earlier this week, and the greens on the right had not yet been cut at all. Today’s project was to cut the batch on the right down to about 3 inches to ensure at least a couple more harvests before they bolt, and freeze them for later. Many people prefer to do their food preservation in big batches, but when you have a small garden that may not be either practical or desirable. And it’s not as if freezing’s that difficult, as we’ll see. You could theoretically can greens, but since they’re a low-acid food you have to use a pressure cooker and process them for at least 70 minutes. To which I say: why bother?
How to Freeze Greens
1) Wash them thoroughly. This may take several changes of water. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil.
2) Cut off the stems of the big ones.
What you classify as “big” is largely a matter of taste, but I would call the ones on the left “big” and the ones on the right “little.” So I hacked off the ends of the big ones and left the little ones whole.
3) Put the greens in the water and return them to a boil. Cook them for about 1 1/2 minutes. (To the newly initiated: this is called “blanching.”) Note that they won’t really be cooked through. That’s ok, because presumably you will cook them more when you thaw them out and use them.
4) Drain them and immeditely chill. I use an ice bath:
4) When they’re good and cold, put them in a plastic bag or glass jar or some other freezer container. Try to remove as much air as possible. Very important: don’t forget to label!
And voila! Now you can have greens whenever you’re craving them, whether the garden yields them up or not. C’mon. You know you want them.