I find myself ever so slowly uncovering the garden; holding my breath as nervous fingers brush away the protective covering of fallen leaves. Beneath a heavy blanket of mulch I found a lovely row of Danver carrots just right for harvesting.
My basket loaded with lovely green tops and hearty orange root, I made my way to the kitchen offering them their first bath; a firm scrub gave them quite a shine! The snippets of top went off to the barn where greedy goats and noisy hens tousled them; a perfect afternoon snack. As for the shiny roots, well, that was quite a quandary.
When it comes to preserving the harvest, several factors must be considered before I decide the method to approach. Time: how much do I have available right now to contribute. After all, pressure canning vegetables can take a few hours or more. Space: Is there more room in the freezer or the pantry? Quality: Do they rehydrate well; prone to freezer burn or mush?
Several years ago I canned a whole hearty harvest of carrots, proudly lining them along my pantry shelves. They were beautiful- and did I mention growing carrots here has been a serious challenge for me? A few months later I eagerly went to pull a jar for the evening meal only to find them swimming in a milky goo; not at all appealing to say the least. Every jar had sealed properly, yet every jar was horribly ruined. Note 1: always pressure can veggies. Note 2: seriously sterilize everything. Note 3: despite your best efforts, canned goods in the deep, humid south can ruin.
Often in preservation experience is the best guide for determining direction. I do not can carrots, greens, or cabbage- the results were never kind to me. Green beans, southern beans, tomatoes and such- even corn can beautifully- but do take a day to accomplish. Dehydrating- well, I love to snack on dehydrated veggies, but have rarely tried rehydrating them (unless in a soup).
In the end, this batch of beauties were blanched, portioned, and frozen for later use. I didn't have time for the canner and images of past slimy 'copper pennies' just did me in. The challenge isn't over- today I spotted three more healthy rows of carrots that should be about ready to gather. Maybe I will brave the boil and can them... but, probably not.