Ok, take a deep breath. The end of vegetable gardening season is near its end. In the United States anyway. Our friends in the land down under are about to begin theirs. However, now that the season is nearing its completion have you been taking the steps and doing the things necessary to have your fresh, home grown veggies, even in the winter months?
One of the greatest thrills of growing your own food is the luxury of having healthy fresh food at anytime. Think about how wonderful it is, when you go to make your own marinara sauce and you can simply walk outside into your backyard (or wherever your garden is) and start picking the recipe’s ingredients literally seconds before they are used.
What happens though when those items are no longer in season? That’s the beauty of many techniques which make it possible to enjoy those home grown items all year round.
Let’s start with one of the simplest things you can do, to preserve that harvest. That would be blanching your veggies and freezing them. This technique works great with such items as potatoes, carrots, corn, beans and peas. Blanching simply means boiling your veggies in water for 2 to 5 minutes and then immediately removing them from the boiling water and submerging them into a bowl of ice water. The next step would be to freeze them in an airtight vacuum sealed bag. I own a Foodsaver so it makes this process easier, but there is a neat technique you can use if you do not own one.
Fill a pot with cool tap water. Then grab a Ziploc freezer bag. Make sure the bag is open and place the bag into the water. Do not submerge the bag as you do not want any water to get into it. Now add your blanched veggies to the bag. As you fill the bag with veggies, because it is sitting in the water, the air will get pushed out the top. While this won’t eliminate all of the air, it will get rid of a lot of it and help with a longer freezer life and less burn.
For fruits and veggies that have higher acidic contents (tomatoes, peaches etc) learn the water bath canning method. It requires nothing more than a few utensils, a large pot of boiling water, some canning jars and of course your time. I guarantee, that once you learn how to can your fruits and veggies, you will wonder why you did not do it sooner. Canning vegetables will give you the opportunity to take those home grown fruits and veggies and store enough for an entire year. Now that is being prepared!
When your jars have a good airtight seal, the food contents will stay fresh for up to a year . Which is perfect, because in a year’s time, you will be ready to grow more!
I’ll talk about pressure canning in a future post. This is for those items where a higher temperature is needed for proper removal of any and all harmful bacteria.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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