Browsing Category

Canning and Food Preservation

In Canning and Food Preservation

How to Freeze Broccoli Rabe

how to freeze broccoli rabe

In my last post, I shared with you the wonderful nutrition found in broccoli rabe. It’s one of my favorite vegetables and it is very easy to grow here in zone 7.

Like many spring vegetables, broccoli rabe is at its peak in early to mid-spring. When the warm weather arrives, it begins to flower and loses its flavor. It is best enjoyed fresh but if you cannot eat it all when it is ready in the garden you can preserve it by freezing. Here’s how to freeze broccoli rabe.

How to Freeze Broccoli Rabe

At first, you might think this is a silly post. After all, don’t you just put the vegetables in the freezer? Not quite. You need to use a process called blanching to halt enzyme activity

Not quite. You need to use a process called blanching to halt enzyme activity in the living tissues of the plant. By halting this activity, you will help your frozen broccoli rabe taste better and last longer in the freezer.

Blanching is easy to do but can be time-consuming if you are processing a lot of broccoli rabe. It took us about three hours and two people, my husband working alongside me, to pull up the rabe in this garden bed, cut off the root portion and any inedible leaves, chop, blanch, drain, and freeze all of it.

broccoli rabe

Blanching vegetables means quickly immersing them in rapidly boiling water for a designated time period, them dunking them in ice water to halt the cooking process. Once drained, vegetables are packed into labeled freezer-safe bags and placed into our big pantry freezer for long-term storage.

To freeze broccoli rabe, first cut off the roots. Rinse the remaining plant, stems, and leaves off. Pick off any yellowed, wilted, or imperfect leaves.

Check the underside of the leaves for insect eggs. I found many clusters of white and gray eggs I could not identify on the rabe. I simply discarded these leaves.

Next, bring your rabe into the kitchen. Chop the rabe and discard thick stems into the compost pile.

broccoli rabe

You can eat the stems, leaves and florets, but the lower stems can be tough. Here, I am cutting them off before sauteeing the rest of the edible portion.

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it aside. Put a large pot filled halfway with water on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil. Have a colander handy for draining the vegetables.

When the water is boiling, carefully add the chopped, cleaned broccoli rabe, using a spoon to stir and push it down. Time this carefully; boil it for just two minutes. At the end of two minutes, immediately remove the pot from the stove. Drain carefully (don’t burn yourself) in the colander placed in the sink. Then place the vegetables into the ice water.

I dunk the entire colander into a large, flat steel chef’s bowl filled with ice water. I submerge it for 30 seconds then lift the colander out to drain the water in the sink. I use my hands to gently press water from the broccoli rabe. Then I place the rabe into the prepared plastic freezer bag.  Once it is inside the bag, I tip the bag, open-end into the sink, and press it one last time to remove excess moisture. Then I try to push out as much air as possible from the bag and slide the zipper-top into place. The entire bag is then put immediately into the freezer.

You can use frozen broccoli rabe like spinach or other leafy green vegetables. It keeps in the freezer for up to six months, a little longer if you are lucky.


Happy gardening. Keep growing!


In Canning and Food Preservation

Celebrate the 6th Annual Can It Forward Day

Ball-CIFD-2016-Logo (1)

Tomorrow starting at 10 am EST is the 6th Annual Can It Forward Day! Learn all about home canning and food preservation from the experts at Ball, makers of the fantastic canning and food preservation products.

canning beets 2


Celebrate Can It Forward Day!

I’m excited to be part of Can It Forward Day! When Jarden Home Brands, the parent company of Ball canning products, asked me if I was interested in helping spread the word about home canning, I was delighted to say yes. After all, I’m a bit of a canning addict myself now that I’ve gotten over my fears of doing something wrong.

Yes, you can say I love to can my fruits and vegetables…just a little bit….

Spiced pickled carrots, dilled green bean salad, carrot coins in my pantry.

Spiced pickled carrots, dilled green bean salad, carrot coins in my pantry.



My pantry.


Blackberry Jam

Blackberry jam made from wild blackberries growing on our farm.



Pickled beets and carrots waiting to be stored for winter.


Yes, I cannot lie. I love to can fresh fruits and vegetables!

If you’d like to learn how to can your  own home-grown produce, or perhaps can that beautiful stuff you’ve picked at the pick-your-own farm or from the Farmer’s Market, then here are all the great resources Ball has put together to teach you how to can and preserve fresh food.

  • Tune in on July 22nd to watch canning demonstrations via Facebook Live from 10:00AM3:30PM ET. Each hour, viewers will have the chance to win a giveaway prize!
  • Engage with any of the Facebook Live recipe videos and a donation will be made to charity.
  • Ask Jarden Home Brands canning experts any preserving or home canning questions via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM5PM ET. Consumers can also share their own #canitforward creations with the brand onPinterest and Instagram.

For every comment or share on the videos, Ball is donating $1 to a local charity. So be sure to tune in!

So are you ready to Can It Forward? Tomorrow on Home Garden Joy, I have a great new FREEZER canning recipe for you newbies out there. Bookmark and save it for fall canning projects or when those pears go on sale.

I hope you’ll join us for #canitforwardday

Canning Resources on Home Garden Joy

If you are interested in learning more about home canning and food preservation, please see:

Happy gardening. Keep growing!

Happy growing 2016 signature blog



4 In Canning and Food Preservation/ Herb Garden

How to Dry Basil

It’s easy to learn how to dry basil. You don’t need any special equipment to dry basil. Save your fresh basil by drying it using this easy method.

how to dry basil


How to Dry Basil

Sweet Genovese basil is one of the pleasures of summer. I love a salad of fresh shredded basil, tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil and some freshly ground sea salt. At some point during the summer, however, I realize I’ve got way too much basil. Then it’s time to dry the extra basil so I can savor the taste of summer all year long.

Many recipes tell you to freeze basil, but I don’t have enough room in my freezer for ice cube trays of frozen herbs. I’m more inclined to use dried herbs in my cooking, too. It’s what I grew up on, so I keep dried herbs in the pantry for my cooking.

When you want to learn how to dry basil, use this simple step-by-step process.

  1. Spray water on your basil to wash the leaves in the morning.
  2. Pick the leaves in the afternoon when they are dry. Choose only fresh basil leaves that haven’t been eaten by bugs.
  3. Lay them on a metal baking sheet or in a metal baking pan.
  4. Place in the sun and let the sun dry them.

You can also use a warm oven to dry your herbs but do not leave them unattended. I like to slide a baking sheet of herbs to dry into the oven after I’ve cooked dinner. I shut the power off and let the oven cool to 200 degrees F or below, then slide a tray of herbs in for 10-15 minutes.

Sometimes this is enough to dry basil, but sometimes I have to repeat the process or leave the herbs outside again in the sunshine to dry them thoroughly.

An alternative method for how to dry basil is to pick stems or bunches. Tie them with string, then hang them upside down in a warm, dry place. Slip a paper bag over the herbs such as a paper lunch sack to keep dust off of the herbs as they dry without reducing air circulation.

basil hanging to dry

Basil can also by clipped as stems and hung out to dry. Slip a paper bag on them and hang them in a warm, dry place.

You can use this method to dry herbs with any soft-leaf herbs such as mint, oregano, and catnip.



More Herb Gardening Articles

12 In Canning and Food Preservation/ Easy Healthy Recipes

How to Make Tomato Juice without a Juicer


how to make tomato juice graphic

When life hands you a plethora of tomatoes…make tomato juice. Or at least that’s the motto around Chez Grunert. This year, thanks to the addition of mushroom soil and the application of what I learned in my friend Liz’s class on growing tomatoes that I took last spring, we have an absolute bumper crop of tomatoes. We have so many tomatoes, in fact, that they are taking over the kitchen. You think I’m kidding? Check out this picture that I took last weekend. Underneath all the tomatoes is my kitchen island:

harvest august 1 2015

Continue Reading →