Hi! I am an Eclectus parrot owner and I love to cook! Why not be able to share your meals with your fids? I hope these ideas will encourage you to eat healthier as well as enrich the lives of your parrots. Enjoy and happy cooking!!

These recipes are designed to be made for you and your family AND be safe to share with your parrot. Special consideration has been given to the unique Eclectus diet. Please be aware that, where noted, some ingredients should be added ONLY to the human servings. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to add them in comments for that recipe!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stock Up On Veggies!!

Summer and Fall are great times to stock up on all the great fresh produce in the markets!  Here, I'll explain how to blanch them.  Blanching stops the action of enzymes that promote ripening as well as rotting... it preserves texture, color & flavor & makes preparing them later a breeze!  They will keep better & longer in the freezer & come out looking & tasting fresher.

You can blanch using boiling water or steam.  Steaming takes a couple minutes longer but is said to preserve more of the vitamins.  Veggies you would commonly blanch are - broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, etc.  I will include a list and blanching times below.  This post will explain the boiling method:

1. Set a large pot of water to boil.
2. Wash & prepare your veggies.
3. Prepare a large bowl with plenty of ice & add just enough water to cover the ice (enough to submerge veggies in). 
4. Once your pot reaches a rolling boil, add the veggies.  Return to a boil, cover & start your time.
5. As soon as the time is up, remove veggies & submerge in the ice water.  This stops the cooking action & your veggies should still be crisp tender. 
***If you have a large amount of veggies, blanch them in batches.  Remove them from the water with a strainer basket rather than pour the water out.  You can return the existing water to a boil rather than start over!
6. Once cooled, drain thoroughly & package for the freezer.  I use my FoodSaver for portions I won't be using within a week or so.
Prepare your veggies for meals as you normally would but remember they will not need normal cooking time.  Simply saute or heat through for delicious, fresh tasting produce!  Your family (both human and feathered) will enjoy!!

You can also blanch tomatoes and peaches to easily remove the skin.  Simply boil just until the skin splits then submerge in ice water.  The skins should slip right off!

NOTE:  Onions, peppers & herbs do not need to be blanched.  Winter squash, sweet potato & pumpkin should be fully cooked before freezing.  All other veggies should be blanched.

Here is a link (Univ of MN Extension) for more thorough preparation instructions, including trimming, cutting, etc. if you need further details:
Vegetable chart

Blanching times (in minutes) for the most common veggies are as follows.  Add about 1 minute if steaming:
Asparagus - 4
Green & yellow beans - 3.5
Lima beans - 3-4 depending on size
Snap beans - 3.5
Broccoli - 4
Carrots - 3.5
Cauliflower - 4
Corn on the cob - 8-11 depending on size (must thoroughly cool or they get mushy!)
**If cutting off the cob, blanch 4.5 min, cool, cut.
Peas, shelled - 1.5-2
Peas, in pod - 2.5-3
Summer squash - 1/4" slices 3 min; 1.5" slices 6 min.
**Winter squash & pumpkin - bake, scoop out flesh, cool & store.  Do not blanch.

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