How to Preserve Fruits and Vegetables

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preserving food

Storing

Storing is the easiest method for keeping your harvest, but most vegetables don’t have a long shelf life. There is an excellent listing here of vegetables from beets to winter squash and the best methods and duration for storage. Root vegetables and vegetables that can be cured, like onions and winter squash, will last the longest.

Some basic tips for storing fruits & vegetables:

  • Only store fully mature, healthy vegetables. Any bruised or immature vegetables should be eaten fresh or preserved by other means.

  • Clean of soil and allow the outside of vegetables to dry before freezing.

  • Keep a few inches on the stem on winter squash and also cut the green tops of root crops to an inch or so.

    Freezing

    Many vegetables keep well in the freezer. When blanched and frozen soon after harvesting, this can be the best method for retaining nutrients, as well as color, texture, and flavor. Most vegetables can last 8 – 12 weeks in the freezer.

   Some basic tips for freezing fruits & vegetables:

  • Freeze food immediately after packaging.

  • Keep freezer temperature at 0 degrees F. Or lower. You can set your freezer control for -10 degrees F. the day before freezing, to speed the process.

  • Don’t try to pack your freezer with unfrozen produce. This will only lower the temperature in the freezer and lengthen the time needed for the produce to chill.

  • Canning

    Canning is a great method for preserving fruits and vegetables with a high water content, like tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, and peaches, but it is essential you follow canning guidelines to the letter.

    Some basic tips for canning fruits & vegetables:

  • Choose only disease-free fruits or vegetables and wash them well before processing.

  • Use clean jars and new seal lids.

  • Process in boiling water or a pressure canner for the specified amount of time.

  • Drying

    Drying fruits, vegetables, and herbs is also a very easy process and can be done without any special equipment or speeded up by using the oven or a dehydrator. Dried fruits, seeds, jerky, leather and even popcorn can be done by these methods.

    Some basic tips for drying fruits, vegetables & herbs:

  • Be sure the fruits and vegetables are fully mature and disease free.

  • Provide good air circulation while drying, to prevent spoilage.

  • Don’t rush the process. Partially dried fruits, vegetables, and herbs won’t last long.

    Pickling

    Cucumbers come to mind when we think of pickling, but many vegetables and fruits can be preserved in this manner, including peppers, cauliflower, apples, and pears. Relishes are also prepared by pickling.

    Some basic tips for pickling fruits & vegetables:

  • Always follow a tested recipe. Even in vinegar, spoilage can happen. Canning pickled products by the boiling water methods further stop spoilage.