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Post-Freeze Post Produce

Butternut squash and neck pumpkins

Harvested on the eve of sub-freezing temperatures, these are all but two of my winter squashes for the year. One not shown appeared in an earlier post titled Neck Pumpkin! and weighed 17 pounds. These together probably weigh 30 pounds. One obviously needs to ripen but I’m confident it will do that once I move it indoors.

This month’s Post Produce falls on the winter side of the craziest chill I can remember. We’ve had several freezes where the temperature dropped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but we have not yet had frost! The deep cold killed all my summer food plants, but left lettuce, spinach, and pak choi unscathed.

Anticipating the cold nights, I had harvested my winter squash, the few tomatoes that weren’t yet showing blight, and as many beans as I could handle. The winter squash are under a beach towel on the picnic table on the porch. Most of the tomatoes rotted while I was away at a conference. The beans are in the freezer.

Falling Back on Preserves

Tonight, for the first time since tomatoes ripened in July, I started drawing down my larder. I use a jar of cut-up tomatoes and another of tomato sauce to make a simple meal of spaghetti and meat sauce. I also used a basil ice cube for seasoning and harvested some lettuce from the patch I planted on September fifth. I have such mixed feelings: sad to be breaking into the preserves, and happy still to have salad growing next to the kids’ climbing tower (I wish I’d thought to take photos before it got dark).

Not a lot of pictures this month, but they complete the story. Now please share yours! Create your own blog post that celebrates what you’re eating from your own garden. Then use the linky widget below (scroll past the photos) to link back to your post! Follow this link for more about Post Produce.

Home-canned tomato products

I haven’t yet stored all the canned goods I processed through the growing season so I’m not sure how many pints of tomato sauce and cut-up tomatoes I have. I used a pint of each to cook up spaghetti sauce.

basil ice cubes

These may look disgusting, but they’re packed with fresh basil flavor. Just before the freeze, I harvested all my basil, put the leaves and smaller stems in the blender with some water, and pureed them into slurry. Then I filled the compartments of this ice cube tray and set the tray to freeze. One cube provides peak-season intensity for spaghetti or pizza sauce. Sadly, I’ve only 13 cubes to last until spring. Next year I plant more basil!



5 Responses to “Post-Freeze Post Produce”

  • Sue:

    Great idea with the “basil cubes”…I imagine that would work really well with oregano as well. I usually dry my herbs but this looks like a winner!

  • Hi Daniel~My Post Produce is actually from the 19th since I just completely messed up the days. Thanks for the tips on the basil ice cubes. I will need to try that next year. I’m hurting this fall without fresh basil since my plants barely made enough this summer to cover summer cooking.

  • We have gone down into the 30′s but no freeze yet. Your butternut squashes look great with the long neck–more yummy squash to eat. I have also heard of the neck pumpkin that the Amish grow. I want to try these next year. Will your green squash really turn orange in the house. I have a few like that and I wondered if they will be good to eat? Great idea about the basil. I think I will try it with oregano.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Sue – You can make ice cubes using whatever herbs you grow. I tend to use only herbs that I’ll use in cooking, and especially the ones with very distinctive flavors. Dill, I find, is pleasant when dehydrated. Basil is OK, but it’s so much better fresh. I haven’t done oregano ice cubes, but I may do some next season as oregano is such a great complement to basil in tomato sauces. I might also try cilantro one year, but I’ve been able to harvest “fresh” cilantro in the garden even with snow on the ground, so that one isn’t as compelling.

    Moden Mia – Thank you for joining in. I’m adjusting your link in the Linky widget to point specifically at your October 19th post. I got a little lost when I landed on your website. I love the salad harvest! This is the first autumn I’ve had significant salad greens in the garden and it’s such a joy.

    Sandie Ann – Thanks so much for your comment. I’ve found that butternut squash and neck pumpkins ripen nicely off the vine if they’re relatively mature. The green neck pumpkin almost certainly will turn tan in the warmth of the dining room. Incidentally, I followed your link and landed on an article about composting. Post Produce is supposed to be about what we’re eating or growing to eat! I’m changing the link to point at your October 16 post which is about bean trellises and seems much more in the spirit of Post Produce. I hope you don’t mind. Thank you for participating!

  • Doreen:

    I was looking at how you froze your basil. This year I blended mine with olive oil , garlic and some parsley then froze “pucks” about 1/2″ deep in muffin tins. I put them in a container after that. They are all still a beautiful green and perfect to finish off a pesto for pizza or tip into soup and sauce.

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