How to Preserve Your Vegetable Harvest

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One of the best ways to live more sustainably is to grow some of your own food. But what happens when you grow too much for your family? Instead of letting it go to waste, preserve it for the winter months!

Whether you grow your own vegetables, or shop at a local farmer’s market, this time of year is likely to be quite bountiful. In fact, late summer is the time when many gardeners find themselves crying “Uncle!” at the amount of fresh veggies they have on hand.

Rather than throwing out the excess, or giving it all away, a great way to make your summer bounty last longer is to preserve some of it for the colder months. It’s really not that difficult, and it can also help you save a bundle on groceries year-round!

And if you aren’t able to have a garden, this is a great time of year to stock up on produce at the farmer’s market at great prices, and sock some of it away using the methods below. You’ll end up saving a lot of money over time by buying food in bulk in season, and preserving it for later use.

Try these 6 simple methods for preserving your summer bounty:

It’s ok to admit it: canning is not always all it’s cracked up to be. It means a hot kitchen on what will probably be a hot day. It means clamps and jars and tongs and really big pressurizers. It means spending a whole day feeling like you’re in a sauna-like factory.

But what’s a clever DIYer with a green thumb to do when they’ve been blessed with a plentiful harvest?… Luckily, when it comes to preserving our hard-fought harvest of fruits and vegetables, there are a lot of great (and simple) options.

1. The freezer is your friend.

The process of freezing your food is not only very simple, it makes for a simple meal in the future. Get ready to fall in love with your garden over and over again throughout the year when you open the fridge to grab a batch of pesto or last fall’s apple sauce.

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2. Utilize the dehydrator…or your oven.

Have a ton of dried fruits with nowhere to go but to the flies? The dehydrator has you covered. The prep process will take you about 40 minutes from garden to dehydrator….

No dehydrator in sight? No worries. Setting your oven on its lowest possible temperature—no higher than 180 degrees fahrenheit—makes for great kale chips, sour cherry chews, apple crisps, oven-roasted tomatoes, and a bevy of dried and delightful citrus slices….

3. Pickle for the pinch.

Who doesn’t love a good pickle? If you have a particularly go-getter batch of cucumbers this year, refrigerator pickling is a wonderful way to enhance your crop and to keep them all crispy and delicious. Don’t stop the fun with cucumbers! Tomatoes, beets, carrots, and almost anything you can try is worth the little time and effort that it takes to begin your pickling adventure.

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4. Infuse for prime cocktails year-round.

Adding a bit of your favorite fruit to your favorite alcohol isn’t only for sangria lovers. Try dropping a few apricot slices into a bottle of vodka or put your rosemary to good use in some dry gin.

If you’re not much for hard alcohol, you can use this infusion method with vinegar to make tasty marinades and salad dressings.

5. Share your spoils with your neighbors (but before they spoil).

Admittedly, this tip is not a preservation method as much as a way to make new friends and avoid wasting any of your precious harvest. Summertime is when all of us are stretching our legs, soaking up some sun, and spending time outdoors, so make a point to say hello and share in the joys of summer by sharing your extra fruits and veggies. Chances are that even if they don’t have a green thumb to help them repay the favor, a batch of cookies may just find their way to your door in those cold winter months.

6. Ok, if you really want to can, go ahead and give it a shot.

You have some options when it comes to canning: hot water or pressure canning. Decide on your method and check to make sure that the equipment you have matches, especially the lids of the jars….

The hot water bath method can safely be used with acidic fruits and vegetables…..

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Foods low in acid must be canned by pressurization. For this method, you can skip the step of sterilizing jars and lids as they high heat will take care of any bacteria. The downside is you must have a pressure canner….

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Read the whole article at www.homeandgardeningideas.com.

 

 

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