My Trug Runneth Over2nd September 2009 • Timely Advice • Stephanie Donaldson
It’s amazing how rapidly a glut obliterates memories of how we welcomed that first handful of runner beans or the earliest, modestly-proportioned courgettes. Some vegetables can be frozen very successfully, but I have to say I never look kindly on a frozen runner bean – and I don’t even try to freeze courgettes.
This week, as Andrew returned from the allotment with bag after bag of runner beans and he ran out of neighbours to give them to, emergency action was required. I decided to experiment with something I was given years ago in France – pureed runner beans. The result was delicious – and much more compact for freezing than bags of sliced and blanched beans. Prepare the runner beans (see this week’s ‘I Couldn’t do Without’), steam them over boiling water until tender, then puree them until smooth with butter, salt and pepper. The beans I used were still tender – for stringy, older beans, you might need to put them through a mouli or similar food mill. (Oxo Good Grips has an excellent stainless steel one – look online for the best deals.)
There’s a welcome abundance of tomatoes in the greenhouse and I NEVER complain about them – any that are surplus to immediate need, I skin, chop and bottle with garlic, basil, pepper and salt. I’m a great fan of bottling, I think it retains the flavour of tomatoes really well. For straightforward guidance on how to bottle, I can recommend ‘Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2’ by Pam Corbin, available from www.rivercottage.net .
On the subject of courgettes – pick them in their infancy and if they get too big, compost them – immediately. Otherwise they hang around in the kitchen until they start to go off – short cut the process!