Monday, August 16, 2010

Putting the Freezer in Order

I meant to do this early in the summer before I bought more beef, more chicken, more shrimp ... well, you get the idea. Now harvest is burgeoning and I knew there were some older things I want to move out of the freezer to make room for some of this year's stuff.

It's a small freezer but I filled three coolers with its contents after I unplugged it. I would have had to get out another cooler but last summer's rhubarb and strawberries went upstairs to go into rhubarb-strawberry sauce I'm canning tonight. Some of this year's rhubarb went up too. One package of shrimp and the last package of last summer's blueberries went to the refrigerator's freezer (I wanted to make room for two quarts of this summer's wild blueberries!).

I half filled a pail with hot water, put it in the freezer, and closed the lid. I went upstairs to type in the inventory I had made into a spreadsheet. An hour later all the frost had fallen from the sides. I scooped it out (one large piece I carried outside and it landed with a satisfying thunk on the walkway in a dozen pieces or so) and washed everything down. Then I played around with storage containers in the bottom of the freezer for holding smaller things.

The freezer still ended up being pretty full, but it's organized now and I have a list of its contents posted in the kitchen!

Drinking Rhubarb...

The rhubarb is still growing because I water it if there's been more than 4 days without rain and I only pick a third of it when I do pick it.

We went away to the southwest the last week of July and first of August. I picked the rhubarb before we left and stuck it in the freezer. When we got back, it was ready to pick again and I got enough for a gallon of wine, 4 pint jars of drink concentrate, and a 9"x13" crisp.

I had a gallon of rhubarb wine fermenting: it was the batch that I made with some elderflowers steeped in it. It was actually ready to bottle and tasted quite fine; it should be really nice by Christmas. I've been making concentrate with some spearmint steeped in it, so I did the same for this batch of wine. The spearmint had grown like crazy too. Half of what I picked went into the new batch of concentrate.

I bottled up the first batch of rhubarb wine in glass bottles. This middle batch I put into 2 liter plastic bottles that I'll decant later into bottles I empty from wine I have on hand.

I have about 24 pints of drink concentrate on basement shelf. In this hot summer I've managed to already drink up what I made last year. I'll probably use a half dozen pints before fall really sets in. It's a very low calorie refresher (1 pint has 1/4 c organic sugar; 1 pint makes 8 12 oz glasses of beverage -- less than 2 tsp of sugar per glass). Its sweetness is much less than that of any commercial iced tea or lemonade. I get a slight lift from what sugar is in it, but not enough to raise my metabolism (make me hotter!).

The rhubarb wine is a like a dry, light white wine. The batches with elderflower steeping or spearmint steeping will probably make good spritzers.

I love drinking rhubarb!