Storing Your Harvest
It feels great to grow a successful garden, and any gardener who ends up with a large harvest is likely to feel a bit proud. But that pride might turn to shock if you realize that you have way more produce than you know what to do with.
Of course, vegetables tend to taste the best when they are freshly picked, but if your garden’s harvest is especially big then you might not be able to use everything fresh from the garden. In this case, knowing how to properly store vegetables is vital and will allow you to better enjoy the results of all your hard work.
First of all, keep in mind that each vegetable has its own storage requirements. Not all vegetables will prefer the same environment, and if stored incorrectly they may spoil more quickly or lose some of their flavor. Tomatoes, for example, are best stored unwashed outside of the refrigerator. Other veggies, like peppers, peas, and eggplant, can be kept in the fridge for several days. Most vegetables do fine in the fridge and in many cases this is a great short-term storage solution for your harvest.
If you know that you won’t be able to use your vegetables within the next few days, another option for storage is to freeze. Freezing part of your harvest allows you to use the vegetables later on while still maintaining a lot of their freshness. Some vegetables may need to be blanched beforehand. Often you will need to slice up the vegetable and store in freezer bags or containers. The lifespan of most frozen vegetables is about 3 months; otherwise the vegetables may develop freezer burn and lose their taste.
Another option for long-term vegetable storage is to can them. With the proper equipment and information, you can preserve your harvest in jars to use later. This is a long-term storage option, but make sure that you can your vegetables properly or you run the risk of possible illness.
If you’d rather not can but still need long-term storage, you could try dehydrating. Using an oven or dehydrator, you can remove the moisture from the produce to make it last longer. Drying is a great option for preserving large herb harvests.
Even if you prefer to eat fresh vegetables, you can still make the most of a large harvest by storing your vegetables for later use.
What’s another great way to use up the veggies from your garden? Make soup! This delicious, easy to make vegetable soup is the perfect way to make the most of a large harvest.
Soup with Summer Veggies
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1-2 zucchini or other summer squash, cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh tomato, diced
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cups broth of your choice
1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let soup simmer for about 30-45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Serves 8.