Save Money by Saving Food: Preserve Your Fall Harvest

If you have a vegetable garden, chances are that the fall is when you finally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. As the temperatures start to cool, gardeners all around the country are rewarded for their spring and summer efforts with tons of fresh veggies that peak just before the first frosts start to set in.

But the problem with this bounty is that it may be hard to keep everything fresh before you have a chance to dig in and enjoy it all!

So make the most out of your fall harvest! Keep your veggies and fruits preserved and ready to eat well into the winter months, by utilizing the following methods for long-term preservation.

 

Seven Ways to Keep Fruits and Vegetables Longer

1. Freezing

Freezing is probably the easiest way to keep fruits and veggies as fresh as possible for weeks to come.

Try to avoid regular plastic bags, which may be too thin to protect tender veggies from freezer burn. Instead, opt for freezer-safe containers in plastic, stainless steel, or even thick glass varieties.

For leafy greens, boil for 1-2 minutes before packing away in the freezer. And for other veggies, add a little fresh water to allow them to freeze without burning. Once in the deep recesses of the freezer, your veggies and fruits can last well into the cold weather months.

 

2. Dehydrating

Dehydrating is a unique trick that can work with a myriad of fruits and veggies, and which can keep your harvest edible for weeks, while slightly altering the flavor into something wholly unique.

You can use an oven at the lowest possible temperature to dehydrate. Or for mass quantities, you can also invest in a dehydrator, which will help protect against the development of mold and bacteria.

Tomatoes, apples, and peppers are especially good crops for dehydrating, and they can add a distinctive and surprisingly fresh flavor to your wintertime recipes.

 

3. Canning

Canning is a popular means of preservation, as most fruits and veggies can last for months once canned, while still preserving a big chunk of their nutritional value.

You’ll want to stock up on some old-fashioned mason jars (which include the lid gaskets), and utilize either pressure canning or water bath canning techniques, depending on the acidity of your foods.

For example, low-acid foods, like tomatoes and most vegetables, tend to do best with pressure canning. Once properly canned, your harvest can literally last for months while maintaining the inherent freshness.

 

4. Dry storage

Some vegetables and fruits require nothing more than a cool and dark place to ensure they stay edible and fresh for the long haul. Examples of these are apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other hearty vegetables. This is especially true for autumn squashes, like butternut squash or acorn squash.

Just be sure the locale where your hearty produce is stored is free of any moisture – moisture can promote rotting and bacteria or fungal growth, which will ruin your harvest.

 

5. Hanging

A number of vegetables, herbs, and fruits can be naturally dehydrated by simply being out and exposed to the open air. This is especially true with herbs, like fresh rosemary, basil, and oregano, which have an even more intense flavor once they are fully dried.

To try this process, make sure your produce is initially hung on a portable rack with plenty of sunlight before relocating to a more permanent location, like in the kitchen. Though this process certainly takes longer than dehydrating, it’s a simple way to get fruits and veggies to last for the long term.

 

6. Vacuum sealer

Want your vegetables to last for months or even years?

Then you may want to look into purchasing a vacuum sealer. Blanch vegetables for a short period of time to retain the freshness, and add a little bit of moisture that will help prevent freezer burn. Once sealed, and properly devoid of any air, veggies and fruits can literally last up to two years!

 

7. Pickling

Pickling is not just for cucumbers, as there are all sorts of veggies that take on a unique new flavor once they are in the brine.

Try pickling a range of veggies including okra, peppers, beets, green beans. You can even mix combinations of one or two varieties to create unique tapenades, relishes, and other condiments that will last until the spring rolls around.

 

If you treat your garden right with ample fresh water, sunlight, and plenty of hard work, you’ll likely get a cornucopia of goodies when the fall finally rolls round.

So make the most of your efforts, and utilize varying techniques to allow your fruits and veggies to last long after they are picked. With so many options available, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your fall harvest all winter long.

Give your garden its best chance of thriving with the freshest water possible. See how rainwater harvesting works and what tank you’ll need to start saving money soon!

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Save Money by Saving Food: Preserve Your Fall Harvest
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You’ve worked hard on your garden, so don’t let that fresh produce go to waste! Here’s a look at different preservation methods for your fall harvest, to fully enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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