Fruits and vegetables should be a regular part of our diet. Yes, they are absolutely essential for the amazing nutritional goodness they offer. The power-packed dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals provided by fresh fruit and veggies can keep your immune system healthy, and your body energized all day long.
Whenever hunger pangs strike, it is recommended that you grab a fruit or veggie based snack – not a donut, or that bag of unhealthy chips. Berries, citrus fruits make the healthiest meals as they are low in calories and high in vital nutrition. There are many reasons we love to consume these beautiful gifts from Mother Nature, but there is a small problem.
The late summer and early fall signal the peak of the harvest season for gardeners and consumers alike. As much as it’s exciting and gratifying to takes baskets of veggies and fruits from your garden, we know that it’s also stressful when it comes to keeping them fresh. What’s worse is that fresh vegetables and fruits might end up in the waste and that too really quickly if you are dealing with organic produce.
Organic food is the result an environment-friendly farming method where no harmful chemicals and additives like fertilizers, growth regulators, pesticides or preservatives are used. Additionally, GMO products or produce from or by GMO and irradiation are strictly nonorganic.
Organic food uses environmentally, socially and economically sustainable farming methods which sometimes makes it expensive but remember that every penny you spent on organic produce is worth it.
Preservation of fresh fruits/vegetables can be a little tricky as they have a shorter lifespan.
You might be familiar with the idea of canning, and there are chances that you ‘hate’ the process. Well, the good news is that we don’t like it either. Canning kills the nutrition, not to forget, the real freshness of the food. And for this reason, we present to you simple and efficient ways to store fresh produce until the next season.
This method works well for vegetables like onions and garlic which you can take from the plant directly and store with minimum effort. This approach requires the least amount of preparation and effort.
What’s important to remember here is that you need to cure these veggies before you store them. To cure them properly you need to leave them out in a single layer or hang them in bunches in a warm, dry and airy place like a garage. After two weeks your onions and garlic will be ready to be stored away in crates and boxes.
Storing in the fridge
This is the easiest strategy for sturdy vegetables like carrots and beets. Yes, you can use your fridge to store your produce throughout the winters.
Harvest them in late fall right before the temperature gets freezing. Don’t remove the soil from the roots instead just keep it there and pack them straight into plastic bags and keep them on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This way your vegetables can last until the end of the cold season.
Storing in the freezer
Most veggies can be easily stored in the freezer for a long time. However, some might need to be steamed or blanched first. The best freezers for this purpose are chest freezers instead of the kitchen ones, especially if there is a lot of freezing to be done.
The reason for this is that your regular kitchen freezer has a defrost cycle that can reduce the quality of the food after a while and bring the storage time down from a year to much lesser. Remember, fresh veggies and fruits can be fetched from the garden, cut into smaller pieces and put directly into freezing bags.
Sometimes you may need to go the extra mile for storing specific items. Fermented foods can be stored in your fridge for up to a year, and they retain much more nutritional benefits than canning while providing valuable bacteria for your gut.
Cucumbers, cabbages, carrots, lemons, and mangoes can all be fermented. They can be made into pickles of different kinds.
In fermentation, it’s the action of the microorganisms that prevent fruits and vegetables from rotting. These microbes consume sugars and turn it into alcohol and acid that saves your produce.
Salt is another essential ingredient in fermentation as it makes the process safer by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. If you want to enjoy pickled, not fermented food, add vinegar to the mix.
You need to keep in mind that fermentation is best done at 68-72°F. And a temperature which is too high or too low may disrupt the process. It’s also important to remember that the fermentation containers are properly sealed to ensure low oxygen levels.
Food drying or dehydration is a method that removes water from the food, and it’s one of the oldest and the easiest ways to preserve food. The process of removing moisture makes the food lighter. Using dehydration to preserve food is going to be particularly useful if you are traveling as it doesn’t require refrigeration and the foods don’t add bulk to your luggage.
There are different ways to dehydrate foods – using a dehydrator, your oven or even air drying under the sun, or indoors.
Related article: Food Preservation – Dehydrating Food
Dehydration is an excellent method for preserving herbs. Once the moisture is removed, the food no longer goes bad as a lack of water inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeasts or mold. Any type of food or vegetable can be dried, from apples to plums and from beets to potatoes. However, some foods need to be blanched before drying to stop the enzyme reactions.
Which of the ideas would you use to store your home grown and harvested produce for a long time?
Article written by Rachael Everly for Prepper’s Will.