Preserving the Harvest – Fall Edition. Here at the farm fall is definitely upon us. I have already put up a lot of tomatoes: canned, frozen and dehydrated. I’ve frozen many vegetables, but I still have a little bit more to do. Fresh is obviously my first preference for veggies, but we try to eat as locally as we can and this means we are eating a lot of food I’ve frozen, canned and dehydrate, which has a little less nutritional value, but I’m thankful to know where it came from and how it was grown. I can’t wait to get cooking this winter with the bounty I’ve frozen. I have been learning and practicing food preservation for the last four years and have come across some time savers along the way. I’m always looking for ways to get more vegetables in my family’s diet, and I’m sure you are too. Thanks to Katie, Megan, and Anna, I’ve learned a lot more! My hope is that you’ll learn some new ideas from me and the PN team and maybe try some new vegetables.
I’m not trained in food preservation, but have taken some classes, and learned a lot through trial and error and reading. I’d highly recommend taking a canning, or food preservation class for more detailed instructions.
- Use your food prep time wisely and only preserve things your family will eat. Read the spring edition for my story!
- If you aren’t growing your own veggies, or belong to a CSA, check farmers markets and natural food stores for bulk quantities of your favorite veggies. This is where you’ll find the best price.
- Tackle food preservation in small amounts. In the peak bounty season I’ll often set aside 4 hours a week to do this.
- Make sure your kitchen is clean. It can’t hurt to wipe all your surfaces down with a mild bleach solution. Dirt is good, just not in your food!
- Most of my freezing involves parchment paper. I find if the veggies are on the dryer side you can generally reuse the parchment a few times. I also love these.
- When dehydrating vegetables, you don’t have to have every piece completely dry. Once you put into mason jars make sure the lid is on tightly and shake every day or so for a week. They will all be the same dryness (and possibly dryer). Try to only remove the lid for short periods of time and avoid pouring them right into steaming food from the jar. If you see mold discard immediately. I’ve never had any of my dehydrated food mold. I always dry until they are crisp because I like it that way!
Fall Veggies you’ll want to save
Kale 2 ways
Kale is very “trendy” vegetable and for good reason. It’s great in smoothies and chips – my son’s favorite way to enjoy it.
Frozen: I’ve frozen kale two ways. 1. If you plan to use it within 6 months and are mostly making smoothies, you can simply de-stem it by taking the kale in one hand and running your hand up the stem to remove the leaves. Then chop it as desired and stuff into gallon size freezer bags and place in your freezer. I try to suck out as much air as I can to keep the kale from getting freezer burnt. 2. If you’d like your kale to last longer than 6 months or plan use it more for cooking you’ll want to blanch it first. To do this bring large pot of water to a boil. If you have a metal colander that will rest in the pot or a steamer basket that will be handy. De-stem and chop you kale as desired. Have a bowl with ice water ready, a dish towel for drying the kale and cookie sheets ready with parchment cut to fit the cookie sheet. Working in batches place some of the kale in the boiling water for about 30 seconds or until it turns bright green. Remove from water or simply remove colander or steamer basket and run under cold water then place in the ice bath. Blot dry on the dish towel and spread it in a thick layer on your parchment sheets. You can stack layers of parchment on top of each other. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and once frozen transfer to freezer bags or containers. You’ll be able to pull out handfuls.
Dehydrated: Kale chips will last a month or so dehydrated if you are using oil and seasonings. If you are dehydrating just kale for soups and such without any oil it’ll probably last much longer. I’ve tried some great kale chip recipes from the PN team! To dehydrate: de-stem and tear into desired size pieces. Dehydrate on the vegetable setting for 4-5 hours or until crispy. Store in airtight jars.
If you are able to get your hands on a lot of leeks freeze them! Onions are a little easier to come by and they also freeze beautifully. I have tried chopping onions after refrigerating them for about an hour and this cuts way back on the tears.
To freeze: chop into desired size pieces and arrange on parchment lined cookie sheets in a thin layer (A food processor works well if you want small pieces). Once frozen transfer into bags. You can also put pre-measured amounts into smaller bags too!
Dehydrated: You’ll want to have your dehydrator going in a garage or outside or you’ll all get an onion headache while they are dehydrating (I speak from experience!). Chop into desired pieces and arrange on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate on the vegetable setting (if possible) until dry and crisp. Store in airtight jars. You can grind into onion powder, but I find it’s a great seasoning whole for eggs, soups, and more!
Caramelized I’m going to leave this one up the The Folks at “The Kitchn” as they describe everything so beautifully. This is for onions only. I froze these in half pint mason jars and we really enjoyed putting them in quiches, salads, and roasted veg dishes. They keep for at least 6 months.
I dehydrate garlic every fall because it is so nice to have in the winter. All you have to do is peel and slice the garlic and dehydrate until crisp. I store in mason jars and rehydrate while cooking grains or sauces. You can also puree the dried garlic into garlic powder with a food processor.
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
I haven’t had the best of luck freezing these vegetables. You’ll definitely want to blanch these like kale (but for a little longer). I don’t love the flavor even when it’s blanched, so it’s one of those veggies I just buy in the winter. I just heard from a friend that she has a lot of luck roasting cauliflower and then freezing it, although I haven’t tried it yet!
Parsnips, Rutabaga, Carrots, Beets
I generally don’t freeze these vegetables, but I know a lot of people who do. We are lucky enough to have a second old refrigerator that I put huge bags of root vegetables in and they keep for months. To freeze; peel and cut into desired pieces, I like to do rounds/cubes. Set up your blanching station just like kale and blanch for about 2 minutes. Immediately put in an ice water bath and place onto parchment lined sheets or into serving size bags.
If you have an apple tree don’t let it go to waste. We freeze and can a lot of sauce, and I also love to dehydrate them. I make my apple sauce and freeze in wide mouth pint size jars leaving a good inch or more of headspace. To dehydrate simply slice 1/4” thick. Peel on or off is up to you! Arrange on dehydrator trays and dehydrate until fully dry. Store in mason jars. To keep them from browning while you are slicing you can cut them into a solution of water and lemon juice.
If you are lucky enough to have a root cellar that is awesome! Sometimes you may have an ideal place to store root vegetables and not even know it. We are lucky enough to have a very old house with a basement that stays about the perfect temperature, and an old fridge. I am able to store a lot of vegetables well into the winter. Here are some quick tips that focus mainly on storing vegetables in your fridge, basement, or cool garage. If storing in a fridge make sure the vegetables are not freezing as this will cause them to spoil. You’ll want to check your storing vegetables weekly and use any that are starting to rot first. One bad apple will definitely ruin the whole batch if not removed!
- Cabbage: will store in bags in your fridge for a long time. Simply peel off any old leaves.
- Winter Squash-will keep to 3-4 weeks at room temp. For longer storage it likes 40-50F at 10-30% humidity
- Beets: Will store in a plastic bag in your fridge for months. If the tops start to rot or grow back simply cut that part off.
- Carrots: Store in a plastic bag in the back of your fridge; they will keep for months and even get sweeter. You’ll want to peel if you see a white substance on the carrot.
- Onions: can be stored in an unheated attic, entryway, cool room or basement. You’ll want it to be dark to slow down the sprouting process. Store in one layer in a basket or trays from garden centers. Do not store onions and potatoes near each other as they will all rot faster
- Parsnips: Store similar to carrots. Remove the tops and let them air dry. Place in a plastic bag in your fridge. They will keep for a few months.
- Rutabaga and Celeriac: They will also keep well in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Or in a cool room that stays around 32 degrees. They both have a thick outer skin, so if any mold or rot develops it can be peeled off.
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