Preserving Vegetables to Last all Winter Long
You’ve spent months planning, planting, growing, watering, fertilizing and now your garden is producing baskets of fresh vegetables you can start preserving.
I bet you agree there’s nothing like the flavor of homegrown vegetables along with the satisfaction you get every time you walk through your garden.
But now the reality has set in that you need to start preserving vegetables or all your hard work will go to waste. Canning can be a lot of work, but there’s something special about going to the pantry and opening a taste of summer in the middle of winter.
Before you start canning or freezing give some thought to how your family likes to eat vegetables.
For me, I enjoy frozen corn and peas better than canned and I like canned green beans over frozen. We enjoy pickled beets better than dill pickles and we like canned peaches over frozen. No one in my family likes canned carrots, but I do like to have them in the freezer for winter soups and stews. And lastly, we prefer jellies over jams and homemade spaghetti sauce over salsa.
Here are the most commonly used methods for preserving vegetables:
Tucking your harvest away in a cool basement or root cellar is the easiest method to keep your vegetables from spoiling. However, most fresh vegetables don’t have a long enough shelf life to benefit from cold storage. Potatoes, beets, winter squash, and onions will hold up best in this environment.
Most home grown vegetable do well in the freezer. If blanched as soon as they are picked, most vegetables can last up to 12 weeks in the freezer.
High water content vegetables and fruit like tomatoes, beans, peaches, and corn thrive when canned. If you’re new to canning I highly recommend taking the time to read the “Principles of Home Canning.” This guide will teach you all the basic tools and skills needed to be a successful home vegetable preserver.
Most people think of cucumbers when they think about pickling. However, many vegetables and fruits can be preserved, including peppers, cauliflower, apples, and pears. Get to know the Ball’s website “Fresh Preserving” inside and out. They’ve helped me time after time by answering any of my canning questions.
So before you start on a marathon of canning determine what your family enjoys and only put work into what you know they’ll enjoy.
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