It is that time of year, the Harvest has begun in earnest. Our tomatoes are slow to ripen, but other things in the garden as well as our local Farm Market are flourishing. The pretty flowers of summer fade all too soon. This is the time of year, when I begin to “put up” for the winter.
Canning, Freezing, Preserving doesn’t have to be just for your family. If we are what we eat, than I want the diet of my laying hens to be the best that it can be. Yes, in the Winter season the Ladies can get by with a simple layer feed, but I want more for them and more from the eggs that I collect and serve my family.
One of my Hens’ favorite snacks are grass clippings. Grass? I can hear you asking yourselves now… Is she really going to preserve grass? You bet I am. But not just grass, the weeds too. Dandelion, Clover… all those things that some people pay to have wiped out of their yards are full of vitamins. These are the things that your Chickens will look for when the snows melt and things start to grow again. Taking a que from my Ladies, I decided to try freezing these bits so that in the middle of a Michigan winter, they can have access to some of their favorite treats. This gives them something extra to eat with their layer feed and also helps their eggs maintain that beautiful yolk color.
To freeze these goodies, I go with an unblanched method. This is a fast method for freezing that helps maintain color and texture for the greens.
Step 1. Wash your greens and dry well.
Step 2. Place your greens in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
*Note- Try to make this layer not too thick so that it can freeze fast.
Step 3. Place cookie sheet into the freezer.
Step 4. Once everything has frozen, then place greens into freezer bags. Take care to expel as much air as possible.
This method of freezing has kept the grasses, leaves and flowers with a bright color and good texture for up to 6 months. They may keep longer, but by then my Hens have eaten through my stores and hopefully the snows of winter have begun to recede. To serve, just set out to thaw. It is relatively quick to thaw because of the thin size of the greens. I like to put this in suet feeder baskets and let it hang or add it to the run floor for them to scratch in.
My These Taste Testers quickly gobbled up the dandelion and clover and moved through the grass clippings next.
The next post in this series will involve preserving corn and cobs for your chickens.