In My Kitchen: Filling the Freezer.






Yesterday was a kitchen day of epic proportions. The berries and vegetables are rushing in and won't stop until the snow flies. Yesterday's work began with a huge bag of garlic scapes from a friend, (the flowering top of garlic plants, removed to encourage formation of a nice head of garlic), beet tops from our CSA share, a trip to two local farms for strawberries and milk, and some time with my girl in the garden harvesting chard. Then we headed the the kitchen and heaped the counters with so much goodness. Oh, yes. It's June.

I let the kids play outside till way past bedtime (so much for our rhythm!) while I cleaned and processed and put by the harvest of the day. Lupine just woke up and the first question she asked was: "Can we make jam?" Yes, there is more food putting by for today.

Yesterday's productive work included:

  • three jars of live-fermented garlic scapes (made like these dilly beans)
  • one quart of garlic scape and basil pesto (made like this recipe but with scapes and pesto)
  • one large batch of beet greens, blanched and frozen
  • our first harvest of chard, blanched and frozen
  • twelve quarts of strawberries, stemmed and frozen
  • two gallons of yogurt
  • and four quarts of kombucha in the works

Not bad for a day's work!

I freeze my pesto by by scooping onto an oiled cookie sheet with a small ice cream scoop, then transferring to a large glass jar. This way I can pick out one or two scoops for each meal without thawing a large jar or bag of pesto.

My freezer is filling faster than I expected (already!), so it's time to brush up on my canning skills and put food into the pantry with some serious determination. It is time to channel my grandmothers. The thought of our kitchen and our pantry slowly filling with jars in the coming weeks is so exciting.

I'd love your help: what books do you recommend for modern canning recipes? I'd love your suggestions. Something with basic formulas and processing times for various foods. Soups, fruits, veggies, sauces, etc.




There were several questions yesterday regarding my process on freezing greens. I find that greens are one vegetable that I buy all winter long that I can easily grow and put by. When I planted my garden this spring greens to freeze was one important component.

Here's my (simple) process:

  • Rinse and stem veggies if needed.
  • Drop into simmering salted water.
  • Push under water until they wilt.
  • Remove with tongs to a colander.
  • Rinse with cold water.
  • Squeeze out excess moisture.
  • Chop.
  • Spread on cookie sheet.
  • Freeze.
  • Once frozen jar or bag and return to freezer.


Oh, and kombucha. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Kombucha is hailed as a healing, detoxifying beverage. And ancient fermented food, kombucha has a fairly widespread history in the east. Each new batch is made by fermenting water, sugar, and organic black tea with a "mother" or "SCOBY" (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Each batch generates a new mother, so it is a beverage that encourages community and giving of what we have. This batch will be fermenting away on my counter for the next couple of weeks. Once the sugar has all been consumed by the SCOBY (but before it becomes vinegar) I will remove the mother, add fresh fruit juice (strawberry perhaps?), and bottle.

What is happening in your kitchen this week?

20 thoughts on “In My Kitchen: Filling the Freezer.

  1. Suzanne says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I have been canning for years and always used the Ball book. I have been interested in fermenting too. I did check out Ashley English’s book on canning and it is excellent with some great recipes and all the info needed. She blogs at
    ps..your bug spray is AWESOME!!!

  2. Susie says:

    Hi Rachel

    I can heartedly recommend the River Cottage Preserves Handbook No.2. Super book – I’ve made loads from it.

    Be sure to get the US version as it is a british book.

    Happy canning


  3. Jonah Lisa says:

    I absolutely LOVE “Fill the Freezer” cooking days! Love them. I am also planning to adopt your pesto freezing method. Brilliant. I too love being able to pull out a serving or two, but I’ve always used ice cube trays. Your way is even easier! Thank you.

  4. kate says:

    I just got Canning for a new generation from the library on a recommendation. I haven’t tried anything yet, but it is pretty full of stuff though some recipes may be redundant. Liana Krissoff is the author. And have been waiting for this: Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation. and curious about this

    Good Luck.

  5. heather says:

    i have never thought of freezing pesto that way. i’ve always used ice cube trays then lament when my next batch of ice tastes like garlic… thank you!

  6. melissa says:

    I use the Ball canning book as well to get started last year. However most of the fruit recipes in there contain a ton of sugar. So this year I purchased “Canning & Preserving without Sugar” by Norma Macrae- Great resource. I put up peaches last week preserved with a honey syrup. I tried a few the other day and you can barely taste the honey. You definitely wouldn’t taste it if you were using them to cook with– peach cobbler maybe!!! Yum!

    Try your library to test out different canning books- that’s what I did!

  7. Amy says:

    In my kithcne this week I am doing the complete opposite almost! It is the middle of winter where I live so I am snuggled up inside, slowly eating my way through the goodies I put away last autumn. Although, this week I did make a big batch of kombucha, a loaf of spelt sourdough, a batch of sprouts, some coconut milk kefir and a batch of ice cream for the freezer, so not all productivity is lost I suppose…
    Great idea for the pesto, and it looks like delicious green smoothie ice cream!

  8. says:

    I need to write down all these suggestions for canning resources! I’ll just check next time we’re at the library. I feel like the research I do is so disjointed… oh, I need to learn how to do this, let me quickly Google it and weed through the results. *sigh* I make so many mistakes and feel like I waste produce (I tried blanching some of my herbs, which apparently doesn’t work with all of them).

    We don’t have an over-abundance of items just yet, but I did try blanching some spinach… although I didn’t think to lay it out on a cookie sheet before freezing it. So it’s just one big lump!

    I’ve been making big batches of yogurt in my crock pot, having some with blueberries and flaxseed and honey for breakfast, making smoothies with the rest. I may freeze some in cubes for smoothies. I also strain some of the yogurt, and since I always seem to have a jar of whey in the fridge, decided to start putting it in cooking water for pasta and rice. I also discovered a super-easy method for making my own buttermilk, so I just made a batch of that.

    There’s a sourdough starter perpetually on my counter with which I make pancakes, pizza dough, etc. I decided to bake some bread with it today, even thought it HOT outside. The last time I tried the bread, the sourdough was too strong and I was disappointed, but I’ve been using a white wheat flour this time, pouring off the liquid on top of the starter, so I’m hoping for better results.

    I can’t wait to pick peaches at a nearby orchard when they’re ready! That’s something I’d be curious to can.

  9. Sarah says:

    Those scapes look like you blanched them before blending them. True? I’m setting up to make a batch right now. Very excited, as I’ve hit a block as to what to do with all our scapes, especially since I don’t do eggs and the zucchini isn’t ready yet from our garden. Loving these recipes and ideas. Thank you so very much!

  10. Jenifer says:

    Definitely can the peaches; they are great in the winter. You can “peel” them the same way you do tomatoes, dropping into boiling water. Then, I just can them in a light syrup–honey and water is what I used last year. Delicious!!

  11. says:

    Wow, this blog is so inspiring!! It is bringing back memories of canning with my mom, and inspiring me to bring my kiddos picking with me. Please more posts on the kombucha, ok? I haven’t been able to stomach any of it that I’ve tried.

  12. Rachel Wolf says:

    I will post about the Kombucha again. We love it around here. Try cutting a bottle with 1/2 juice. That helps cut the vinegar edge (that is an acquired taste).

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