Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garden Murders...and Redemption

I am a cold-blooded murderer.

There. I've said it. It's out there. I have taken a life. That's not even accurate, as I've taken about 1,000 lives this week.

I'm talking about a plant that bleeds red.

Beets. (What did you think I meant?☺)

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to rip the tender little seedlings from the ground, but that is what must be done in order for the beets to grow their bulbous roots. I say this with "tongue in cheek", but the reality is that it is very hard for me to do this chore. Last year, I tried to transplant my thinnings, but the beets didn't appreciate my efforts. Of course, the crows did, but that's a touchy subject.

So what can you do with beet thinnings?

Here are a few ideas...

1. Make pesto. Substitute half the basil with beet greens and process as you normally would. This is surprisingly good!

2. Add beet greens to your salads. If you look at the packaged (boxed) mixed salad greens in the grocery stores, you'll see that beet greens are quite often included. And they look pretty while adding extra nutrition to your meal.

3. Saute or cream and serve over rice, polenta, or pasta.

4. Sneak in a handful into a strawberry/peach slushie. Use this recipe and substitute the greens for the spinach.

5. Freeze for winter use in soups.

This is the one that I decided to take advantage of. Freezing beet greens or any other green for that matter, is pretty simple. It does require blanching first to preserve color and quality, but it only takes minutes to do.

First, wash the thinned greens thoroughly. Tiny slugs tend to stick to the underside, so check well. Cut the bottom stems/roots off and feed to the chickens, goats, or a hormone-crazed pregnant milk cow. (Just sayin'.)

Bring a pot of water to boil. Fill another large bowl with cold water and add ice cubes.

When water is boiling, add a couple of handfuls of greens. Don't overcrowd, you want the greens to float freely.

Blanch for 30 seconds. Any longer than that and the greens start to get mushy. Mushy greens are what adults who refuse to eat greens remember from their childhoods.

We want to avoid future green haters.

Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, remove greens from boiling water and immediately place in ice water.

The next part can be done in 2 different ways. Either drain the leaves in a colander, or gently remove the leaves one at a time and place in a freezer container. The goal is to not allow the leaves to bunch up, and remove as much water as possible. I've tried both ways and the latter was the better for me.

Gently layer the leaves into the freezer container. Some leaves may need to be folded over, but that's okay.

Label the container and place in the freezer. Use within 6 months for best quality.

Now that the beets are thinned, it's time to plant the second crop of beets!


This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.


momma-lana said...

Try transplanting seedlings at dusk. I had no luck with transplanting until I tried this. In the morning they are standing up and happy and they do fine.

jrmom said...

Try roasting them in the oven, or on foil on the grill, with some coarse salt and garlic...yummy! I know what you mean about "thinning" I feel the same way!