The last few days was all about Edamame and Tomatoes. It is that time of year again when I spend my entire weekend picking and preserving. Whether it is green beans, tomatoes, corn, or edamame my late summer is always busy. I have two pressure canners, a vacuum sealer and thank goodness a large kitchen which I utilize fully during this time of the year. My collection of jars is also quite large thanks to friends and family that decided they were never going to can again and donated them to me. In thanks I share my harvest happily with those individuals and really anyone else I think would enjoy my home grown goodies. Sunday I spent 4 hours picking and sorting my Edamame or maybe better known as soy beans around here. Yes they are different from the soybeans we see in fields all over the Midwest. I like to compare edamame beans to sweet corn and normal soybeans to field corn. You could eat them the same way but they would taste very different. I blanch them and then vacuum seal and freeze them so we can just pop a package of them in the microwave when we feel like a nice healthy snack. A nice benefit to eating them while you drink is that the protein in the beans will keep you from having a hangover in the morning if you should happen to drink a little to much. The Japanese serve this in bars like we serve peanuts but the edamame are much better for you. They also great used in dishes that you would normally use a pea or a fava bean. I have about a bushel to put away this year which is a significantly higher yield than I have had in the past so I believe I have found my new favorite soybean aptly named Beer Friend. Edamame technically is the preparation of immature soy beans so I always be sure to pick them as soon as the pod appears to be fully filled out. Picking them is the hardest part of preserving them because they cling stubbornly to the plant. This year we decided it was easier to pull the entire plant and pick at our leisure someone where in the shade and throw the discarded plants straight into the compost bin. After picking all the beans you will want to sort and wash them. While your sorting you will want to start a large pan of salted water on the stove top. You will want to blanch your soy beans by placing them in boiling water for 6 minutes and then submerge them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once this is done I try to get as much water as I can off the pods and vacuum seal them for later use. When I feel snacky I love to pull one of these packets out and throw the beans in boiling water like 10 minutes and I have a very healthy snack.
Tomatoes are something I always do in a big way because I use them in things I cook each day and I tend to go through 4-5 jars a week. I only chop and pressure can my tomatoes that way they can be used to make anything. If I need puree I drain them and use the blender or food processor to give them a whirl and they are ready to go. Even Tomato paste is easier just drain a couple large jars and throw them in the crock pot with 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp salt and 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed. Cook on high for around an hour. The more moisture in your tomatoes the longer you will need to cook them. Once they have become nice and thick you can freeze or can your past for future use. A new process I am going to try this year is to stem and freeze your tomatoes and when your ready take them out of the freezer and let them defrost a bit. The skin should pull off easily and I personally like to chop the tomatoes when they are still partially frozen and then place them in a colander to strain while they thaw. I am freezing my tomatoes until I have all the tomatoes out of the garden that way I can do them all in one batch. This years tomatoes are exceptionally dry this year and should make some nice thick sauce when I finally get around to it.
I now have all the edamame processed and frozen. I have two bushels of tomatoes in the freezer waiting further processing. I have brought in a few spaghetti squash and pie pumpkins that were ready and I have corn begging to be picked. My grapes are a few weeks out and those will be turned into concord grape juice and jelly. I am anxiously waiting for my apples to ripen and my chestnuts to pop open. I am so looking forward to roasted chestnuts and homemade apple sauce. While thinking of all this upcoming work I am also slowly making decisions about the CSA. I have chose where the garden extensions are going next spring and what work will need to be done this fall. I have also decided on many of the plants and a round about number that I will need to plant next spring. I will need to find a large quantity of manure for fall preparation of some of the new areas. Anyone in the Syracuse, Indiana area that needs a barn mucked out or just a pile of poo that needs a new home let me know. I will have a farmers stand put up either this fall yet or early next spring where the pickups will take place each week and any surplus from the boxes will be sold. I slowly making contacts which will allow me to provide extra goodies such as honey, bake goods, and other locally made or grown products.