Week 22 - Ways to preserve your harvest
7 Ways to Preserve your Harvest
1. Shed storage and Clamping
It is important you only store non diseased/damaged produce and regularly check the store, removing anything that is showing signs of going bad. Oh and I do have a small confession to make - I do store my pumpkins indoors ... although on the shelves up to the loft, not in the spare room!
Once freezers became commercially viable storing many vegetables for long periods with much less risk of damage was handed to gardeners. Produce could either be stored as it is or made into all sorts of ready made dishes. Do remember to label everything well (I can assure you I didn't mean to add currants to my pork stew as I thought they were kidney beans) and add the date so you can eat the older produce before the newer things.
Any vegetable gardener who has had a good year will probably tell you that soon enough you will start to run out of freezer space so drying is a great alternative. You can buy special fruit, vegetable and herb dryers/dehydrators or use a very cool oven, the heat of the sun (if you are lucky enough) or air dry products such as beans and herbs.
4. Bottling and Canning
Bottling and Canning involves storing fruit and vegetables in specialist glass jars or cans. Fruit in a sugar solution and tomatoes (whole or as a sauce) can safely be bottled using an oven or water bath to heat the contents and create the airtight seal. However all other vegetables can only be canned or bottled using a specialist pressure canner otherwise there is a high risk of botulism developing. Once properly bottled/canned produce can be stored for long periods and is ready to use straight away without the need to defrost or cook.
This method was popular in the past but is less so now. Salted produce must be thoroughly soaked to remove the salt before cooking but many people say they prefer salted over frozen vegetables as the resulting product is more like fresh.
Using lower salt levels allows for fermentation of vegetables to create such dishes as Sauerkraut and kimchi. However when most people think of fermentation they think of alcohol and all sorts of fruit and vegetables can be fermented into wines or ciders. You can also make fruit liqueurs by soaking fruits such as currants in vodka or eau de vie.
Pickles, chutneys, relishes, ketchups, jams, jellies .... there are so many ways of preserving fruit and vegetables. Some of my favourites include chilli courgette pickle, strawberry jam, spicy peach chutney and marrow and ginger jam. Do you have a favourite preserve?
Have you managed to grow enough fruit and vegetables to store some for the coming months? If so what is your favourite way of storing your produce through the year?