3 Ways to Store Your Harvest
You have planned, worked hard and patiently waited all summer, harvest time is finally here. If you plan a garden like I do, you will probably have more vegetables then you and your family could eat without some spoiling first. Finding ways to store your harvest is a must to prevent your hard work going to waste and so you can enjoy your vegetables months later.
Ways to Store Your Harvest
Canning, Freezing and Dehydrating are three popular ways to store your vegetables for later use. Each method is different and can produce different results. It is up to you to decide which one works best for your taste and storage situation. Here on our farm we use all three depending on what we are trying to preserve and the amount of time it needs to be stored.
Canning is a well-known way of storing your harvest. Water bath canning and pressure canning are the two methods of canning that are used, which method you use depends on the acidic levels of your produce.
Water bath canning is used when high-acid food such as tomatoes, and most fruits need to be stored. The produce that you wish to be stored is placed in jars, then submerged in boiling water to cook for a specific amount of time.
Pressure canning is used when non-acidic vegetables need to be preserved. Jars are filled with the produce you wish to store, then placed in a canning pressure cooker and heated to temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The jars are cooked at these temperatures for a specific amount of time to destroy bacteria in the preserved food.
Freezing is another way of storing your harvest for a later date. There are only a few vegetables that can be froze raw an example being onions. Most vegetables that you are going to freeze need to be blanched (first steamed or scalded in water, then submerged in ice water to stop the cooking process). When freezing you want airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags to keep moisture in and air out. Freezing usually keeps vegetables for a year, then the quality may start to decline.
The third form of food preservation is dehydrating. This method is the process of removing water from the vegetables. Most vegetables can be dehydrated with only slicing or chopping as prep, but some may need to be blanched first. The dehydration process can be done using a dehydrator, the oven or in some cases all you need is the sun. Most of the time vegetables can be dehydrated at a temperature of 125 degrees, and the amount of time will vary. Dehydrated vegetables can be stored in airtight containers for years if done correctly.
When trying any of these methods be sure to follow a well-tested recipe with a clear set of instructions, this will give you the best results. If the preserving is done incorrectly you could end up with spoiled contaminated food. Don’t let your hard work and extra harvest go to waste, try canning, freezing and dehydrating. Pick which method works best for you or do what I do and use all three depending on what the storage situation might be.