If you grow fruits and vegetables, you know there’s always extra, and you can only eat so much of your harvest. If only we could have it year-round, right? Well, there are ways to preserve vegetables and fruit from your garden to enjoy for the rest of the year. Here are four ways to start.
4 Awesome Ways to Preserve Vegetables and Fruit From Your Garden
There’s no need to see all of your bounty rotting away on your counter or in your refrigerator. Even the busiest person can preserve vegetables and fruit from their garden.
The first couple of years I started with all this self-sufficient homesteading stuff, I was a little overwhelmed. I would get in this habit of putting it all off until the last minute.
This only caused me to throw away a lot of rotting food and getting frustrated because I was canning or making jams for hours.
Now I just do a batch a day. That’s it. And it gets done, and so far, I haven’t thrown a thing away. And yes, I’m a busy person too! 🙂
1. Canning or pickling
Canning is probably one of the go-to methods to preserve vegetables and even fruit. There are recipes galore out there for every level of cooking, expertise level, and desire for taste.
I opt for the easiest ways, but there are a ton out there! I’ve canned everything from tomatoes to peaches, all in a couple of canning pots with my jars and lids. Easy!
I’ve even gotten creative and made salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, creole, and other delicious things that we really enjoyed.
Some might find this method complicated, and it kind of is when you first start, but once you find your rhythm, it’s easy.
Just follow recipe directions and make sure you have all of your ingredients before starting. Your vegetables or fruits should be at their optimum ripeness for the best flavor.
Canning creates an unlivable environment for bacteria, so make sure your lids are fully sealed before storing your goods.
I just use the boiling water method of canning. I have one canning pot for the boiling jars, bands, and lids (to sterilize them), and the other canning pot for whatever I’m canning.
The other method of canning is pressure cooking, which I haven’t gotten into yet.
If you want to can but aren’t sure where to start, here are some options to get your creative juices flowing:
- stewed (chopped and cooked) tomatoes
- sauces or chutneys
- salsas or creole
- chili or hot sauce
- pie filling
- spaghetti or pasta sauces
- jellies and jams
- pickled green beans or any veggie of your choice
There are so many other things to can! I have an awesome book on preserving, and it’s filled with ideas! Have fun with it!
Tip for extra cucumbers: Refrigerator pickles are fast, easy, and taste delicious! And no canning required! Definitely an easy way to preserve vegetables!
Freezing your leftover harvest from your growing season is probably the easiest method to preserve vegetables and fruit.
The important thing to remember with this method is not to rush and just throw it in a bag.
This usually results in freezer burn or food ruined by the leftover moisture in the bag.
The only vegetable I have found (so far) that can be thrown in a ziplock bag and thrown into the freezer without it getting ruined is jalapeños. All others I’ve thrown away. Of course, the air must be removed, and I’ll discuss that in a bit.
Some vegetables that are good for freezing should also be blanched. This means throwing them very briefly into boiling water.
However, I’ve found that some can be cleaned, thoroughly dried, and put into a ziplock freezer bag without blanching. This is perfect for vegetables you plan to use with your cooking like peppers or jalapeños.
You can use a handy little plastic bag sealer that sucks out all of the air and seals it tightly, or you can use the straw method, which of course, doesn’t work as good, but it works.
To do this, just manually take as much air out of the bag that you can. Place a plastic straw inside about an inch in, and close the ziplock bag until it touches the straw.
You’ll then suck the air out of the straw, pinching the straw during your next breath. Do this until most of the air is out.
Some veggies or fruits need a step further to freeze. For instance, after cleaned and cored, strawberries should be placed on a piece of freezer paper on a cookie sheet and frozen that way first before placed in a bag.
Of course, some foods that just don’t freeze well, but those that do can last quite a while in your freezer!
Tip: Make sure you use a Sharpie to record the year on the bag for future reference.
3. Making jelly or jam
One year we had two huge, long rows of strawberries and raspberries. I also worked at an orchard, so I had an abundance of peaches. What else to do but make a ton of jam and jelly, right?
Simply follow the package directions for the best outcome and flavor (I use Sure Jell most of the time).
You can even start your own little side hustle and sell your jams and jellies. Or give them as gifts. Who doesn’t love homemade goodies!?
As a side note for preserving your fruit, you could also try making juices or applesauce. Applesauce is one of those things that freezers very well in freezer containers!
Or, you can be like my husband and make wine, haha! That is definitely a different article, though! 🙂
This method can be used to preserve vegetables, fruit, and herbs, although drying may change the flavor.
Items can usually be stored in an airtight container for quite a while. Just remember to clean your produce before drying, and if you’re drying them in the oven, keep an eye on it for burning or over-drying.
Hanging-to-dry is another way to preserve vegetables like hot peppers or hardy, low-moisture herbs like marjoram, rosemary, dill, sage, and oregano.
To hang dry, simply tie a bunch of herbs together at the stems, and find a cool, out-of-way place to hang them upside down.
I like to loosely wrap the tops with muslin or a paper bag to keep dust and animal hair off of them as they dry. This also keeps the herbs from making an accidental mess on my floor!
When you’re starting to think about how to preserve vegetables and fruit from your own gardens, my suggestion is to think about what will work for you in the here and now.
You will have all winter to research further into preserving and maybe be a little more creative with your methods.
Also, pressure cookers, dehydrators, or any other preserving tool always make a good birthday or Christmas present! 🙂
I personally LOVE the feeling of looking at all of the wonderful work I’ve done to preserve vegetables and fruit; it’s gratifying. Bonus, it feeds us!
I’m curious, do you do any preserving right now? What will you try next! Please leave me a comment below! Thank you!