Make Way for the Rhubarb! : Courtyard Garden Kitchen #courtyardgarden #gardening #freezing #recycling

As the weather has warmed a little I have started work at the allotment this week by forking over some of the raised beds ready for this years crop of carrots, peas etc.

While there I picked a double armful of rhubarb – this is post-pick and I hardly made a dent in the patch.

This rhubarb was here when we took the plot on. It is an early variety with very long, chunky stems so it takes no time at all to pull a kilo or more! I staggered home with my first crop of the year feeling very pleased.

After partially cooking a panful of fruit ready to make a crumble I washed and cut the rest for freezing. On going out to the freezer with the loaded tray I realised that its not just the allotment that needs to be prepared.

There are just two of us in the house so we only have a small chest freezer to store allotment produce that we can’t keep up with when they are in glut.

By late spring there is never a great deal of that veg and fruit left and I had reached down to the bottom of the chest freezer where those always things that have been shunted back and forth all winter continue to lurk…

It seemed like as good a time as any for a sort out and chuck the stuff that has been in there too long to be viable. In theory anything kept in the freezer will keep indefinitely. In practice everything degrades over time.

Things like an emergency carton of lactose free milk frozen when lockdown began that was way passed its freezer life so that it separates when defrosted. Also two packs of cheese frozen at the same time, which is crumbly but still good. There was also a ziplock bag of ancient blackcurrants that will never get eaten (which is why we dug up the blackcurrant bushes) and one bag of yellow French beans – yellow because that is the variety I hasten to add, not because they have degraded in storage – though they have…

There were also a few viable items lurking at the bottom. Two more ziplock bags of green beans, three plastic take-out boxes of cooked apple, some GF French sticks and a Quorn roast (don’t ask – I don’t even like Quorn…)

You will note that I mentioned the dreaded plastic boxes, and I regret the need for them, but I gave up on foil freezer containers. The lids always fall in on themselves and never ‘seal’ properly. Once exposed directly to the cold air the contents quickly acquires freezer burn and whilst edible will not be very good as the ‘burning’ draws out moisture and with it both its flavour and texture.

In my defence those plastic containers are all recycled from Indian or Chinese takeouts. I haven’t bought freezer boxes for several  years now and have used the ones in this stack many times over.

The take-out boxes are not just for garden produce. They come in very handy for excess baked goods. Slice cakes etc into portions and stack them in like a 3D jigsaw, separated by sheets of baking paper.

This way we aren’t tempted to eat a whole cake or batch of muffins before they go stale and have goodies to offer unexpected guests at any time (unless the freezer has been raided). They defrost in next to no time!

Returning to that rhubarb – this is being flat frozen on a tray as I type and once solid will be stored in large ziplock bags – which I do buy but spend that little extra on the kind that are tough enough to be washed and re-used many times over.

Once frozen and bagged up I can get as much or as little as needed without defrosting the whole batch.  We are just getting to the end of the berry fruits that were bagged up last year and take out a handful every morning for our breakfast porridge.

So there we are. Job done.

One chest freezer ready for the coming harvest with no mystery meats lurking at the base.

(We shall draw a veil over that Quorn…)


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