Preserving Your Precious Harvest in 2018
What do you do when you have a bumper crop of green beans, squash or tomatoes?
- What do you do when you come across a great deal at the grocery store or the farmers market?
- What do you do when you’re offered free produce from an abundant allotment, community garden or local rancher?
There’s only so much of any one food you can eat before you get sick and tired of it.
If you know how to preserve your abundant harvest, you can enjoy your delicious clean fruits, vegetables and herbs with your All Year Gardening.
Preserving Your Harvest
A great place to start is by freezing food. You can cook up your harvest such as tomatoes and toss them in the freezer and add to casseroles or chilli or make sauce later in the year.
This is also a great way to store fruits like berries and peaches that don’t last long once they are ripe.
The only disadvantage to freezing food is that you’re limited by the amount of room you have in your freezer.
Be sure to get in the habit of labeling frozen food well so you know what it is before you pull it out to thaw and how long it’s been sitting in the freezer.
One of the easiest things to do when you have more fresh produce is to freeze it.
A surprisingly large variety of fruits and veggies can be frozen “as is” or you can wash and chop them into a form that’s easy to pull out and cook with down the road.
This won’t take long and will make cooking that much easier when it’s time to use these yummy foods.
Cutting fruits and vegetables also allow you to pack them in tighter, giving you more space in the freezer.
Let’s run through a couple of things you may choose to freeze.
Peaches, bananas, and pineapple freeze well, but it’s much easier to peel and chop them first. Even if banana’s are growing brown, place them in the freezer in their skin for a banana smoothy or banana bread.
Grapes can be frozen, but don’t thaw well. If you have too many grapes, toss them in the freezer and eat them frozen.
Apples and pears don’t freeze well unless you turn them into pie filling first.
And, when you are finished, don’t put the pie in the freezer, enjoy a piece for all of your efforts.
Berries are one of the easiest fruits to freeze, and they are best-frozen whole.
Keep them in the freezer, then pour them out as needed for muffins, cakes, and pies. No need to defrost be for your baking saving time.
I’m assuming for the berries you grow, there are no chemicals used. For those you buy when there is a plentiful supply, remember they are covered in chemicals. Here are three options to wash for berries to remove all residues. How to wash off 95% of chemicals so your Summer Berries are safe to eat.
Preserving Your Harvest
#2 Cook and Bake It
If you love to bake and care for kids, chances are you have more difficulty getting them to eat vegetables than cake. It’s so easy to sneak vegetables right into that delicious cake you’re making.
It might sound like an odd combination, but what a great way to have your cake and eat it, too. Carrot cake anyone?
There are so many ways to add veggies into your cakes. Your family will never know that the delicious and tasty treats you’re baking are healthy, too.
The most well-loved and common way to add veggies in your cake is the beloved carrot cake. Have you also thought of:
- Sweet potato
So not only did you get those veggies into your cake, but you also keep it interesting by mixing fruits and juices, as well. You can even add veggie juices such as tomato juice and V8 to cakes that have more flavor such as devils food or red velvet.
For delicious ideas about adding juice to your baking take a look at Baking with Juice.
Pumpkin, squash and sweet potatoes are plentiful and popular in the fall.
There are dozens of recipes you can make to incorporate these two veggies into your cakes, such as butternut squash mini-cakes for breakfast.
Mixing fruit, vegetables and juice is healthy and good for gut health. 14 Ways To Add Fiber To Your Baking For A Healthy Gut
Try mixing three cups of cooked squash to any regular cake recipe, and you will be amazed at how moist and delicious your cake will be. And, here you’ll find the amount of Soluble Fiber In 41 Fruits With Recipes For Good Gut Health.
Add seasonal spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon for extra seasonal flair.
If you’re tired of apple and pumpkin, try zucchini. Zucchini is perfect veggies to add to your cakes because they blend well and don’t have an overpowering flavor.
Zucchini quiche, cake, and bread are all great additions to the baking line-up.
Once you offer your family a delicious zucchini cake, chances are they will ask you when you are going to make it next.
Other veggies that can be easily added are broccoli, leeks, rhubarb, chickpeas, beets, and potatoes. The nice thing about cooking with veggies such as carrots, squash, and zucchini is that you can also experiment with different additional ingredients and toppings, as well.
Try adding spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg as well as a lemon zest for lighter summertime cakes.
Cucumber and zucchini cake is delicious, light, and refreshing for springtime.
Try mixing beetroot and chocolate for a moist and healthy cake.
When it comes to cooking with veggies, be brave and get creative. Once the veggies are sliced, diced, and put through your food processor to blend into your regular cakes mixes, your family will never know the difference – but you’ll know the secret behind those delicious treats.
Preserving Your Harvest
#3 Jam It !, Can or Bottle It
Jamming, Canning or Bottling is one of the most versatile ways to preserve food. You can make and can anything from jelly and pie filling to chili and green beans.
Canning or Bottling has the added advantage of not taking up any space in your fridge and freezer.
You can store your jars and bottles in the pantry, on a shelf in the kitchen, or anywhere in the basement.
Heck, I’ve been known to keep canned goods stuck under the spare bed if I’m running out of room.
Properly canned food also stores a lot longer than any other method.
Preserving Your Harvest #4 Dehydrate It
If you don’t have a lot of space, consider dehydrating food. You can start by using your oven on the lowest setting.
Try dehydrating some apple slices, or any type of food to use in baking and cereal throughout the year. Then explore further and come up with fun snacks like kale chips, banana chips and even dried veggies that you can use in soup.
Preserving Your Harvest
#5 Pickle It
Another favorite old-fashioned and healthy way to preserve food is to pickle it.
Pickling involves submerging the produce in a brine made of salt, sugar, water, and various pickling spices.
Dill is the perfect herb to add to your summer harvest of crunchy cucumbers.
Harvest all of your cucumbers, even those hiding from you. Have a good look around, there are more these than you think.Pickle with dill, Add Depth To Your Flavors With This Popular Swedish Herb.
The most common pickled item is of course pickles and it’s a great place to start. But don’t stop there.
You can pickle peppers, okra, cauliflower and a wide variety of other veggies and even fruits.
Play with it and see what you like. Pickled veggies make a great addition to sandwiches and salads throughout the year.
Preserving Your Harvest #6 Cold Store It
Last but not least let’s talk about the simplest way to store food. Things like root vegetables, apples, and cabbages store well in a dry, cool, and dark place.
This used to the reason any house had a root cellar. Today your pantry might be a good place to store this type of food. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement, you can set up some shelves to keep a lot of produce for months to come.