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  • HOME
    • LOCAL EATS IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL VALLEY

    • LOCAL LIBATIONS INCLUDING BEER, WINE, MILK & COFFEE

    • FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    • GARDENING. EVENTS. TRAVEL. SHOPPING. MEET YOUR MAKERS.

    • FIND STORIES ABOUT LOCAL FOOD, FARMS, CHEFS, ARTISANS AND MORE IN OUR PAST ISSUE ARCHIVE.

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A YEAR’S WORTH OF TOMATO SAUCE IN THE DEEP FREEZE

And Other Freezer Fare

While I must admit that I dream of one day having a root cellar packed full of canned creations, the reality is that I have limited time and a deep freezer, and the freezer, as it turns out, might be even better than a root cellar. There’s a lesson in here about learning to love what you have, but really what we’re going to learn is how to freeze some of fall’s harvest.

Our typical Indian summers here in northern California provide the perfect extension of our summer growing season and a great opportunity to scoop up all that last, fresh produce. Here are a few ways we can get creative with preserving tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkin to keep the vibrant flavors of fresh-picked ingredients alive in our homes all winter long.

I’ve learned the hard way that a jar full of prepped preserves can crack in the freezer, but I’ve learned as well how to minimize such a happenstance. First, look for glass canning jars that state “freezer safe.” Wide mouth jars that are straight without shoulders are less likely to crack. Pintsize jars are equivalent to one can. For example, if you freeze pureed pumpkin in a pint jar and a future recipe calls for one can pumpkin, you will have the correct amount. Leave a gap of at least a 1 inch at the top of the jar to allow for ingredients to expand while freezing. Before transferring to the freezer, cool jar contents completely in the refrigerator. Overnight refrigeration is great for this step.

If you’re freezing blanched or raw produce, freeze items on a cookie sheet or tray first and then pour into jars so they don’t stick together.

MARINARA SAUCE
Think spaghetti nights galore and homemade pizzas, or even a dip for those nights when grilled cheese sandwiches rule the dinner table. This is a no-fuss sauce, so don’t even think about spending any time peeling or deseeding tomatoes; simply chunk them and follow the instructions to blend later.
Check out this recipe
ZUCCHINI “NICE” CREAM
When you think you can’t serve one more meal of zoodles or bake one more loaf of zucchini bread with the squashes pouring in from the garden, steam them and freeze them. Cut squash into chunks, steam until easily pierced by a fork, and freeze chunks in a single layer on a pan. Pour frozen chunks into a mason jar or freezer bag. Add frozen squash to go undetected in smoothies and nice-cream or puree for winter soups.
Check out this recipe
PUMPKIN PIE FILLING
When you hit the pumpkin patch this year, grab some baking varieties and stretch pumpkin spice season even longer. Cooking pumpkin isn’t nearly as daunting as it might seem and having cooked pumpkin on hand allows you to get surprisingly creative.
Check out this recipe