Rhubarb in the ‘burb.

It’s that time of year. 

Most Mainers mark the arrival of spring with the harvesting of fiddleheads. 

Let me be the one to say, ew. No thanks. This is not your blog.

But, if you’re looking for bitter stalks of ruby red to delight your senses, well we are your family. 

Now, rhubarb is an herbaceous perennial, meaning once you get a plant going, and you treat it right, which is actually very little interference, it will come back year after year. It’s stalks and leaves come first, and can get quite large. These preface a flower that once comes in, means the end of rhubarb season. It’s short and you have to get to it to catch it, but it is so worth it. 

A lot of old homesteads have rhubarb plants that have survived even after the family is gone. We go to two different places in search for the stalks. Yesterday, we took a walk to a property owned by my husband’s uncle. There is a row of several plants, each one slightly smaller then the last. The biggest one at the beginning of the line had already started its flower. And someone had already raided the patch a little, but we like the thinner stalks anyway, so I grabbed my shears and started snipping away. 

It’s important to note, some people do the grab and twist method- basically you pinch the stalk between your pointer finger and thumb, digging a little into the ground with your fingertips. Then, very simply, twist and pull. 

You cut the stalk down close to the ground. Go ahead and snip the leaf off as well, since those are POISONOUS AND SHOULD NOT BE EATEN EVER. 

Ehem. Just to be completely clear- do not ever under any circumstances eat the leaves of the rhubarb plant. 

Also, it’s important to Not over harvest..please do not cut to much of the plant. This plant requires very little care, but when foraging a perennial it is super important to harvest responsibly so you can enjoy for years to come. At the end of the season, you can go back and clip everything down. We don’t, as they aren’t our plants and we wouldn’t want to chance destroying them. 

Now, the best way to preserve rhubarb for when you actually use it (hello strawberry season!) is to cut it up and freeze it. 

Give it a quick rinse in a colander, then let it air dry for a few hours. You could hand dry it with towels, but I have a lot to do and they are fine hanging out. 

Yes I am using my stove top as a countertop. No it is not a hot surface at this moment.


Next cut it up into uniform chunks- also not that important. They freeze and thaw more evenly, but when making jam, you end up boiling it to mush anyway. 

Tadaa! Now we bag it with our handy dandy food saver and stash it in the deep freezer until early July when the berries come in. 

Mmmmmmmm jam. And pie. 

Yea! Spring! Amazingness and free food and such!

Next blog is about our upcoming yard sale, how we prepped for it and if it was worth it. It’s a work in progress for sure. 

Until that day, have a wicked good time. 

If you give a girl a zucchini, she makes a loaf of bread….

Give this girl a garden full of them and she’ll have zucchini bread all year long. 

The trick to keeping your gardens abundant zucchini harvest is to freeze it. But, unfortunately, it’s not as if you can just stick whole zucchinis in the freezer and walk away. Nope. You need to shred those suckers down. 

My favorite zucchini recipe only requires one cup of shredded zucchini, so I will be freezing my summer squash in one cup portions. I use my handy 1.25 cup Tupperware containers. This will give our shredded squash room to expand as it freezes.

For this project, get together the following

  • As much zucchini as you, your Tupperware and your freezer can handle at once. These six yeilded 7 cups of shredded squash.
  • Your one cup, freezer safe, comes with a lid, containers.
  • A large bowl
  • A cheese grater that has a small shred option
  • A one cup measuring cup.

    Supplies have been gathered

    First things first, get you zucchinis super clean. You don’t skin these before shredding, so be sure to clean them very well under cold water with a soft bristled veggie brush. We got this one at Walmart years ago and it’s perfect for delicately skinned veggies.

    I use a soft bristled brush to keep from skinning up the zucs

      

    Next, cut off the blossom end of you squash. 

    Using a paring knife, cut off the blossom end… or as Mr.Gillis and I call it, The Butt

      

    Now, shred that zucchini! I like this grater because the small holes are jagged all around, which makes it great for breaking down seeds and skin.

    This is zucchini number 1 down, and it only took about 3 minutes.

      

    Now, once you’ve shredded your squash, start ladling one cup into each of your freezer containers.  I love these little Rubbermaid ones. Well, I love all my Rubbermaid, so it’s a matter of partiality.
      

    I dont worry about getting exactly one cup- as close as possible is good enough

      

    Once the zucchini is in the freezer container, cover it tightly and tap it gently so it’s nice and compacted. Air bubbles are not your friend.

    Make sure to leave room for expansion as it freezes

      

    Three cups of shredded zucchini, ready to become squashsicles

      
    Make room in your freezer and let them sit for at least 24 hours. I’ve gone as far as 48 hours before. 

    This is my second round of freezing zucchini

     
     Once the squash is completely frozen, it’s time to get your Tupperware back by bagging it. If all you have is zip locks, that will be fine short term. But I cannot stress enough how amazing a food saver system is. We found ours for really cheap but we’d easily invest in one at full price knowing now how much money it’s saved us. 
     

    Behold, the squashsicle

      

    When you pull the Tupperware out, the covers might be kinda stuck. A quick fix for this is a bowl of slightly warm water. Dip the container in real quick. Not only will the top come right off, the squashsicle will slid right out as well. 

    Just dunk it in the water real quickly. Any longer then a few seconds and you’ll start melting your hard work.

      

    The top will pop right off at this point

      

    Slid your frozen zucchini, container and all right into your freezer bag.

    I find it easier to deals with if I put the container in right side up, and then flip the bag. I tap the Tupperware and the block falls right out. 

    Place your frozen zucchini in your freezer bag right side up

      

    Flip over the entire bag.

      

    Carefully remove the tupperware container

      

    Get the container out of the bag and close it up. With our food saver sealed bags we’ve kept frozen zucchini shreds for up to the next planting season. 

    Our trusty food saver, hard at work.

      

    One cup of perfectly shredded zucchini, frozen and ready to store for months in our chest freezer

     

    So far we’ve frozen and stored 14 cups of zucchini. In the middle of a cold Maine winter, it’s amazing to grab a block of this stuff, thaw it out over night in the fridge and make fresh zucchini bread. It’s a little bit of the harvest, in the middle of the grey. 

    Well that’s it- the key to keep all that extra zucchini that your neighbors won’t take anymore.

    Until next time, have a wicked good evening.