Using and Preserving the Garden’s Bounty

July 16, 2009

This entry is a guest post by Nathalie Lussier who blogs over at the She stops by today to share a few tips for using all of that extra produce that is harvested from your backyard garden this summer:

So you’ve slaved all summer in your garden, and now you’re reaping its bounty. If you’re a new gardener, or you’ve recently expanded the size of your garden, you’ve probably got more produce on your hands than you know what to do with.

That’s where all of these food preparation and preservation techniques come in. I invite you to experiment with how you eat your garden’s bounty. Try something different.

1. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies Fresh Out of the Garden

The most straightforward way to enjoy your garden’s harvest is to eat your fruits and vegetables fresh soon after you pick them. That might mean making salads, smoothies, soups, stews, desserts, and other meals.

Keep in mind that certain vegetables lose their freshness quickly, so for example you will want to eat string beans as freshly picked as possible because the sugars start to turn to starch after they are picked. That explains why fresh string beans always taste sweeter!

2. Do Some Canning

If it’s your first time canning, you’re in for a lot of fun. Putting excess vegetables and fruits in cans is a great way to preserve vegetables so that you can eat them throughout the winter months.

The process is quite simple, and the necessary accessories are fairly inexpensive. All you need is to buy a box or two of reusable mason jars, find a canning recipe that appeals to you, and follow it until you have dozens of jars of deliciously pickled or jammed produce.

3. Try Dehydrating Extras

Dehydrating your fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure that all of the nutritional value of your produce is kept intact. To remove the water content takes longer, but if you dehydrate at low enough temperatures all of the enzymes and nutritional contents of your produce will remain intact.

If you have a lot of berries and fruits, consider making fruit rollup’s by blending the fruits and then spreading them to dry on a dehydrator sheet. If you have a lot of vegetables you could make savory dehydrated veggie crackers with flax seeds or sunflower seeds. You can also use a dehydrator to prepare herbs or quickly dry decorative flowers.

4. Freeze What You Can

If you have a big enough freezer, you can enjoy the benefits of freezing your fruits and vegetables. If you plan to freeze a lot of your produce, I recommend investing in a Freezer Vac, which vacuums the air out of plastic containers so that your food remains fresh.

Without air in your containers, the food lasts longer, and this avoids the freezer burn taste. Freezing is another great way to preserve your food, because it can keep the crunchiness or the textures of the food more intact then dehydrating or canning can.

5. Learn to Love Fermented Veggies

If you’ve ever enjoyed sauerkraut or kimchi, then you know how powerful fermentation can be for transforming your average vegetables into a delicious addition to any meal. If you want to undertake making your own sauerkraut or kimchi, you can invest in a fermentation pot, which helps you to keep the ideal environmental conditions for your sauerkraut or kimchi.

The process of fermentation takes roughly 4 weeks, and will yield many jars of fermented cabbage and other vegetables. Fermented products also contain favorable bacteria that improves digestion, so if you’ve yet to try fermenting your vegetables, why not give it a try this year?

If you’re familiar with one of these techniques, why not branch out to a different way of preserving your garden’s veggies and fruits in addition to your tried and true ways. No matter which way you choose to preserve the fruits and vegetables that you harvest, I know that I you will learn a lot and enjoy the process. After all, we need to enjoy each step of being a gardener, from seed to harvest. And that means enjoying every bite.

Bio: Nathalie Lussier is known as The Raw Foods Witch because she takes the spookiness out of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. You can sign up for her free weekly publication called The Cue, where you’ll get tips to live an enchanted life with more raw food and easy recipes.

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  • Ken

    My mum still does preserves in jars. She also freezes fruit to grab for desserts in the off season.
    I must suggest she try dehydrating – that would be good for us here in the Bay of Plenty!

  • Pingback: Preserving the Harvest with a Food Dehydrator — Veggie Gardening Tips()

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