Meet Colleen Johnson of Farm Girl Fresh Market in Mitchell near Scottsbluff, NE!
What Farm Girl Fresh Market offers:
- Farm fresh vegetables & herbs
- Fresh cut flowers
- Value added products: teas, soup mixes, dehydrated herbs, gluten-free mixes
- Garden transplants
"Your resource for fresh produce, flowers, & plants!"
Colleen at Farm Girl Fresh Market grows a variety of vegetables from arugula to zucchini! Situated near Mitchell, NE in Scotts Bluff County, she offers vegetables, cut flowers, garden transplants, and value added products like jams & treats. Having a local farm for your family's vegetable needs is so valuable! Not only can you get the freshest produce, but another benefit is that local farmers often have a glut of seasonal vegetables that are great for preserving - things like cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages, and turnips. You can ask for a whole box of tomatoes to make and can (or freeze) your favorite tomato sauce!
Preserving the Harvest
One thing I love about the summers in Nebraska is the bounty of vegetables that come with it. Tomatoes, potatoes, melons, zucchinis, cucumbers, and beans! There is something really grounding & soul-enriching about "putting up" the vegetables each season, or preserving them so they last longer and can be enjoyed later. Preserving food is a two-step process... (1) preparing the food and (2) choosing a preservation technique to make the food last longer. The reward for preserving the harvest? In the middle of winter, opening your pantry to grab a jar of homemade tomato sauce for your meal or dill pickles to enjoy! Preserving food has been a part of every culture on the planet because of its ability to extend the shelf-life of food. For instance, wasna (also known as pemmican) is a method used by the Plains indigenous people including the Lakota to preserve meat or fish by mixing it with tallow and fruit (find a recipe on Native Recipes). A variety of fermented foods are found in cultures from around the world as well - from soy sauce and kimchi to sauerkraut and feta cheese.
Types of preservation methods:
- Dehydrating food in your oven or dehydator - suitable for so many different vegetables & herbs - think tomato chips, dehydrated mushrooms, dehydrated soup mixes - you too can make these at home!
- Freezing food - fast and easy, but can require a lot of space - best if you only have a few jars to process
- Blanching - a common step in food preservation recipes that softens food to make it easier to pack and preserves the color - it also can make it easier to remove the skins of fruits like tomatoes and peaches
- Making fermented pickles - preserve vegetables by making a salty environment that generates lactic acid (kills pathogens & bacteria that hasten decay)
- Making vinegar pickles - often called fresh pickles or quick pickles - this process extends the shelf life of vegetables (cucumbers, asparagus, cauliflower, to give some ideas...) by placing them in vinegar .
- Water bath or pressure canning - methods to safely preserve a variety of produce in glass jars by creating an air proof seal
- Infusing - make alcohol-based infusions to drizzle over ice-cream or deglaze the grill after searing steak - make vinegar-infusions for delicious salad dressings
Resources for preservation:
- Book: Put 'em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton
- UNL Extension's Food Preservation Website
- National Center for Home Food Preservation
- USDA's Complete Guide to Canning
Disclaimer: Safe canning procedures must be followed in order to reduce pathogen risk and serious health problems caused by food-borne illnesses like botulism.