Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 87 - Freezer Plans

Thanks to all who commented on yesterday's blog.  What great supporters I have - so let's have some fun this week!

Reading through my always handy "Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving" I found the chart for recommended storage times at 0 degrees F.  Just a tip on keeping this book clean - since I use it every year under very messy conditions - I actually have it torn apart and each page put in sheet protectors.  This has saved my book many times as I seem to be a messy preserver!  A good friend gave me that tip many years ago and it has been great.  The pages are stored in a large 3 ring binder that I add other preserving recipes to as I find ones I like.  It is always easy to find when I need it.  I realize that the fair rules and guidelines state that freezing foods can change the quality.  However, I have found that if you prepare an item carefully and store it in the freezer properly some items don't seem to be hurt from the process.  My one rule here is breads.  I do believe that fresh bread is simply supreme in comparison to frozen bread.  Bread that is frozen can be great for reheating and eating immediately following reheating; however, for competition where it won't have a heating process it can get pretty hard so I don't try freezing with my bread entries.

But here is my list of items on the freeze list:
Quick Breads - store for 2 months (plan to start these in June), I actually think some quick breads taste better after resting and freezing.
Cakes - store for 6 months (hmm, can start cakes any time)
Cookies (baked) - store for 6 months (time to start these too)
Pastry (unbaked) - store for 2 months (since I have issues with pie crusts I should probably work on some and freeze them for later)
Pies (unbaked) - store for 3 months (time to make pie!)
Candies - store for 12 months (didn't consider freezing candy but might try freezing some)

Goodness - look at that I could have started storing certain items 6 months ago.  I may need to clean my freezers in order to have enough room but if I freeze things as I go there will be a lot less prep time come fair entry date for foods.  Now I just need to remember to label well and to type up the recipe cards in advance (the recipe cards sometimes seem to take longer to prepare for exhibit than the actual food entry)!

Checked on the garden today to see how things did in the cold last week after being gone.  The tomatoes did OK in the cold frame however they are looking stressed.  The strawberries, asparagus and peas are all OK since they like cooler weather anyway (has actually been good for the peas).  The onions are fine.  The potatoes aren't up yet plus they don't mind cooler weather so they're fine.  My glads are starting to come up so hopefully it gets warmer since they don't like cold.  The only thing frosted were all my son's marigolds he started.  Shoot - I thought planting them after May 5th would be OK but guess not this year.  Looks like he and I will need to start some more and put them out later.  I am so happy we waited on putting in the corn, beans and other items.  I am extremely happy I left my started pepper plants in the house instead of moving them out to the cold frame - I don't think they would have made it even in the cold frame.  See, sometimes procrastination (or lack of time) can work in your favor.  I am not promoting procrastination - just saying sometimes you get lucky!

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