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I’ve already discussed the main ways that you all can keep your harvest fresh for months to come but another product of your farm that I haven’t talked about is your herbs. I don’t give them much thought considering most of them grow so fast, but I still think that a proper preservation method should be available to everyone.

Even though it would be magical if you could simply store every kind of herb that comes your way, it’s not really possible. Even if you could do it, it’s impossible to retain the flavor and taste of soft herbs, such as mint and basil, if they’re frozen because they taste best when added fresh. Luckily, you can preserve most hard herbs by freezing them in oil.

If you’re wondering why you can’t just freeze the herbs as they are, it’s due to the burn and loss of flavor that it can cause. Plus, herbs are most commonly used in dishes like soups, roasts, and stews during the winter months, when you can’t really grow them in your garden.

With these dishes, you always need some oil to begin with, so having herb-infused oil to cook vegetables and meat lets the flavor fuse into every ingredient that you use. Now, here’s how you can freeze herbs such as oregano, sage, rosemary, and thyme, in oil.

You’ll need to start by using the freshest herbs available so make sure to use ones that are freshly-picked from your garden. Clean the herbs thoroughly to remove any dirt and then place them on a towel so they dry indoors. Take the herbs and chop them finely if you prefer to. This can help the flavor fuse with the oil better but not to such a great extent. So if you prefer, you can freeze them in leaves with a bit of stem. Or, you can freeze a mix of whole and chopped herbs.

Take an ice cube tray and make sure that it comes with a cover so that it keeps the smell from affecting other items in your freezer. Place herbs in each division and fill them to about two-thirds of the height. Pour oil of your choice, such as olive oil, the extra virgin kind, or neutral canola oil. If you don’t have oil at hand or plan on cooking other kinds of dishes that don’t make use of oil, you can melt unsalted butter and pour it over the herbs. If you don’t have a cover for the frozen herbs, you can cover it with a layer of cling wrap and place the tray in the freezer for the night.

The next day, remove your cubes of oil and herbs and place them in plastic bags. Remember to label what herbs and oil were used on each Ziploc bag, and don’t store them all together to prevent smells and tastes from mixing. This is how you can preserve your hard herbs over the winter. Simply remove as many cubes as needed, and add them to your pan for an instant burst of flavor to your meal. You’re welcome. Happy Farming!

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Ripen Your Tomatoes While Indoors

Summer is the time to grow tomatoes, after which you can simply preserve and store them as you like. However, it’s not always that you get to harvest fully ripe tomatoes before fall comes and you’re left with halfway-ripened tomatoes just days before the first frost.

Once the frost hits, you won’t be able to harvest anything since tomatoes stop developing in cold weather. If you want them to survive the first freeze, a row cover or sheets can help but it won’t be much help without heat and sunlight afterwards. The best chance you have at getting red tomatoes is to pick your half-ripened tomatoes now and get the job done indoors. If you can see some patches of red on them, it’s likely that they’ve started ripening and all you need to do is finish the job.

About Ethylene

This gas is produced and used commercially all around the world to ripen produce such as fruits because there are usually picked while green so that they can be shipped. It may sound weird since you’ve been trying to avoid artificial additions to your crops so why even mention ethylene? Well it is also a naturally produced gas that’s made by fruits like apples and bananas while ripening. Place the half-ripe tomatoes with a ripe apple or banana and watch them ripen up. You’ll need to place them in an enclosed space to fully ripen. Use any one of the following methods:

Use a Paper Bag

Based on how big of a bag you have, you can place about 5 to 10 tomatoes in it along with a banana or apple that’s ripening. Leave the paper bag in a warm place and remember to check on the banana or apple for signs of spoilage.

Use a Plastic Bag or Big Glass Jar

Both of these work well in place of a paper bag, enclosing the space and concentrating the ethylene gasses. Place about 2 green tomatoes per bag/jar along with a ripening apple or banana. But keep in mind that these containers can trap moisture very well too, so you’ll need to make holes in the bag or the lid of the jar (or open them often to let moisture escape) to prevent spoilage.

Trap Them In Their Own Gases

No apples or bananas? No problem. Tomatoes put off a small amount of ethylene gasses on their own, but it’s tricky to ripen them before the fruit begins to rot. Enter newspaper, it’ll speed things up. Place newspaper along the bottom of a cardboard box and put your tomatoes on top. Make sure to keep space in between each tomato and place them in a single layer. Add another layer of newspaper over the top and close the box. Store in a warm place and check often.

Hang Them Up

This is in case a frost is quickly on its way and you don’t have the time to individually pick each one. You can remove the entire plant and then hang it upside down in a cellar or garage where temperatures will be a little warmer. Even though you’ll be removing the entire plant, this method can give you more flavorsome tomatoes since they remain on the vine longer.

If you’re planning on using any of my above-mentioned tips for ripening your tomatoes, remember that it’s always better if the tomatoes have a little bit of redness to them, or are halfway-ripened. Good luck with the upcoming frost!


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