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Long Term Storage

By August 28, 2014 December 8th, 2015 Harvesting, Nutrition & Cooking, Uncategorized

Wondering what to do with all your fruits and vegetables? Storage is a fun and easy way to eat your garden harvest through the winter. If you decide to do one of these things, we suggest starting with one method, and one type of vegetable to not become overwhelmed. Start slow and easy until you’re a master preserver.

The methods below give a quick explanation of each technique, but we recommend exploring the links to learn the details of how to preserve each vegetable.

 

Juicing

Juicing is a great way to get in your daily fruits and vegetables, especially if you aren’t a big veggie eater. It is also a great way to use lots of produce quickly if your fridge is overflowing with veggies that you don’t know what to do with! Juicing breaks down the cell wall of whole foods making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients, usually the body will have absorbed the nutrients within 20 minutes after consumption. You can also try freezing your juice for later use.

 

Canning

Canning is a great and fun way to store your vegetables. Once you get the hang of it, its very easy, but it is important to can in the proper method so that you don’t allow botchulism spores to develop in storage. We recommend reading a good canning book to get the basics down before you start, but here are a few tips:

  1. Harvest good, blemish-free vegetables. The sooner you can your vegetables after harvesting, the better. Always wash vegetables thoroughly to kill all the bacteria.
  2. Sterilize all your canning jars, lids, and rings by washing in warm soapy water or boiling jars for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • When canning low-acid foods, like tomatoes, it is always recommended to add acid in the form of lemon juice or citric acid to each jar along with the tomatoes.
    • When canning high acid foods, like peaches, strawberries, or other fruit, you can pack them in simple syrup or make jams and pie fillings without any added acid.
    • To can low acid foods without any added acid, learn about how to can with a pressure canner.
      • Fill jars with vegetables or fruit and top with boiling water or with your simple syrup mix according to a recipe, leaving a 1/4 – 1/2 inch “head” below the rim of the jar.
    • Remove the air bubbles with a non-metallic spatula.
    • Wipe the rim of the jar clean. Seal the jar tightly with lid and ring. Carefully put into hot water bath for the appropriate amount of time depending on your vegetable being canned. Remember that at altitude, water boils at a lower temperature than at sea level and so it takes longer to kill off bacteria in a hot water bath. Typically, we add about 10-15 minutes to each water bath recipe depending on the vegetable we’re canning to compensate for altitude! When storing beware of any bulging lids or leaking jars as these are signs of spoilage.

  To really nail the details be sure to read CSU’s page on how to can. We also recommend “Saving the Season” by Kevin West or “Food in Jars” by Marisa McClellan.

 

Dehydrating

Drying vegetable is one of the oldest ways of preserving food. By removing the moisture, you are preventing from decay and spoilage.

There are three things that dehydrating depends on:

  • Enough heat without cooking the vegetables.
  • Dry air to absorb the moisture.
  • Air circulation to carry away the released moisture.

Dehydrating vegetables does not alter the fiber content, number of calories, and amount of iron, however it can decrease the amount of some minerals and vitamins, such as Vitamin C.

  1. You can dehydrate using a dehydrator, a solar dehydrator, or simply using one of your kitchen trays. Whatever you use, make sure that there is air circulation between the food and the tray. We recommend purchasing a dehydrator because it’s significantly more efficient and easy.
    • Use a cheesecloth or synthetic curtain netting if you decide to dehydrate in the oven.
  2. Blanching your vegetables in boiling water or citric acid solution before dehydration will preserve the flavor, color, texture, and vitamin count.
    • Bring a large pot of water to boil
    • Place the vegetables in the boiling water surrounded with a cheesecloth or mesh bag.
    • Keep the vegetables in the boiling water for about 4-6 minutes depending on the vegetable
    • Immediately after, place the vegetables in very cold water for the same amount of time
    • Drain
  3. To oven dry, preheat the oven to the lowest setting (about 140-150 degrees F). You want to maintain this temperature with the oven door propped open. Experiment with temperatures to see which one work for you.
  4. Place trays in the oven, making sure you have no less than 3 inches between each tray to allow for air circulation.
  5. Most of the moisture will be out of the vegetables. You’ll most likely be able to tell. If there are doubts, place them in a sealed glass container. If moisture beads appear after a couple days, place the vegetables back into the oven.
  6. Place dried food in sealed jars.
  7. Store in a cool, dark place. Properly dehydrated food can last up to a year.
  8. To rehydrate, remember that 1 cup of dehydrated food reconstitutes to about 2 cups. Soak until tender.

 This is just the quick explanation of how to dehydrate. To really nail the details be sure to read CSU’s page on how to dehydrate food. 

 

Freezing

Have an excess of vegetables? Try freezing them! It’s a great way to store vegetables for 12-18 months.

The quality of frozen produce depends on the quality of the fresh produce, so make sure you freeze them at their peak.

  1. Wash all your vegetables thoroughly with cold water.
  2. Blanch your produce, except peppers and herbs.
    • Bring a large pot of water to boil
    • Place the vegetables in the boiling water surrounded with a cheesecloth or mesh bag.
    • Keep the vegetables in the boiling water for about 4-8 minutes depending on the vegetable
      • Immediately after, place the vegetables in very cold water for the same amount of time
    • Drain
  3. You can pre-cook your food before freezing so they are ready when you want to pull them out, but that is up to you.
  4. There are two ways to package your vegetables: dry pack or tray pack
    • Dry pack: Place the drained vegetables in a freezer bag or container. Release all the air from the bag and place in freezer.
    • Tray pack: Place drained vegetables on a try spaced out from each other. Once the vegetables have hardened, place in freezer bag or container. This will prevent the food from freezing into one, big block. We recommend tray packing your vegetables if you don’t plan to use them all in one sitting.

 This is just the quick explanation of how to freeze. To really nail the details be sure to read CSU’s page on how to freeze food. 

 

Pickling

Pickling is a fun, different way of storing vegetables. Make your own relishes, sauerkraut, and pickles! Use only blemish-free, fresh fruits and vegetables to pickle. To really get all of the details of how to pickle, we suggest visiting CSU’s pickling page

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