Preserving Your Harvest

Oct 23, 2013

Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef: Preserving Your Harvest

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and you're listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. If you are a gardener or you live near produce farms, you are apt to have a kitchen full of goodness in the way of vegetables and fruits. Now is the time to pack your shelves and freezers with natural goodness that can be enjoyed all through the winter and spring. My garden has been bursting with amazing tomatoes, pumpkins, kale, peppers and string beans. I can't believe how well everything produced and I still have more coming so I needed to start preserving this bounty right away. One new appliance I purchased this year was a good dehydrator. I have been harvesting kale, cleaning it and drying it. When it is good and crunchy, I crush it up and put it into canning jars. Sometimes I add seasonings and sauces to it before drying to make delicious kale chips. The crushed up kale is great to add to breads, pasta, stews and pestos. The kale chips are great for nutritious snaking.

My tomatoes usually get stored a few different ways. I either make them right into a sauce and then freeze bags or containers for quick and easy meals or if I am running short on time, I will cut them up and freeze them raw. They make good additions to stew. The tomatoes can also be sliced and seasoned then dehydrated like sun-dried tomatoes.

I love having roasted peppers on my sandwiches so an easy way to get jars of peppers is to layer a cookie sheet with foil and non-stick spray then put your washed peppers in a single layer. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and place them in the center rack. Let cook for 30 minutes then turn the oven off. Cover the peppers with foil and let them cool until they can be handled. Now one by one, peel the thin transparent skin off the peppers with a sharp knife and cut the top off removing the seeds. Place them into a jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. You can season them with a bit of garlic powder, too. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Much better than store bought.

The squash harvest can wait a little longer than most vegetables. If I can store them in a cool dry place, I like to keep the squash whole and fresh until I need it. Others get roasted until soft and pureed right away. I like to freeze them in 2 cup measurements in zip closure bags since they can be frozen stacked and flat saving freezer space.

String beans get washed and blanched in boiling water for a minute, sometimes whole and sometimes cut into bite size pieces. Then they are quickly cooled in ice water, drained and placed in bags for the freezer. Another way is to pickle the string beans. You can buy a bag of pickling spices and the recipe is right on the bag. Usually the only other ingredients are water and vinegar. These are made in canning jars. A large pot is needed for the water bath to seal the canning jars. The water has to cover the jars and you boil them about 10 minutes. Once removed from the water, you will hear the tops pop letting you know they are sealed and ready to be put on your pantry shelf.

For any abundance of fruit, I peel and slice whatever it is and put it into a saucepan with some lemon juice and sugar. After cooking it for about 20 minutes, I let the fruit cool then put it into containers for the freezer. It is important to have an idea of what you'd like to make before freezing the fruit since the amount of sugar and also the amount put into the container will be necessary elements. Some fruits such as strawberries and blueberries can be frozen raw while others like apples, pears and peaches store better cooked.

So start preparing your excess harvest and produce purchases now and you will enjoy fresh natural food for months to come.

I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. Have a bountiful day!