When you overwinter beets, arugula and kale, there is a marvelous moment in springtime when they start to grow like gangbusters and you feel terrifically far ahead in the growing season. But as the greens see it, you haven’t planted early THIS year, you planted very LATE last year. That means this is year TWO, and as biennials, their job in year TWO is to GO TO SEED. They vigorously and repeatedly send up seed stalks. The arugula send up hairy, coarse flower stalks that aren’t palatable for eating, the kale send up mini broccoli-type flowers that are good for eating, and the beets send up little clusters of flower buds that taste like… BEETS.
You can fight their inclination to go to seed by harvesting greens heavily and often, eating well, and stocking the freezer. And then, before it is time to plant the tomatoes, what is left of the greens that saw you through the winter so nicely can be pulled up go to the chickens.
Here’s how to prepare greens for freezing:
|Remove the stems to a bucket for the chickens, |
let the greens take a bath,
have a nice dog supervise the operation.
Blanch in boiling water for about 2 minutes to destroy
enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the nutrients
and alter the color, flavor, and texture of the greens
during frozen storage.
|Then plunge greens into a large quantity of ice-cold |
water to stop the cooking.
|When it's all said and done, that boatload of "Year Two" greens |
will make about 4 cups for the freezer... and tide us over
until the summer greens are ready to be picked!