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Preserving Your Garden Harvest

As we get closer to Spring, many of us are beginning to get Spring fever and are itching to get out in the yard. For many of us, our gardens are calling our names. But, every year, no matter how well we plan our vegetable gardens, it always seems that we always have way more of some items that we can use.


It sometimes gets to where our friends and neighbors hate to see us coming after the harvest. It’s the same for all of us. We don’t want to see the food go to waste, but at the same time, we don’t want to have to go through the expense and effort of learning how to can. However, there is a simple alternative that anyone can do. Blanching can help you to preserve your harvest, and it can be done in a short period of time. We are going to look at some ways to preserve various crops you might have in your garden so you can enjoy them all year long.


For asparagus, begin by cutting the spears into pieces, and then place into a boiling pot of water. Depending on the size of your spears, boiling them rapidly in a covered pot for two to four minutes, and them immediately place them into a bowl of ice water for five minutes. All that is left is to put them freezer bags and freeze.


For broccoli, cut it into small florets that are about an inch across, and then rapidly boil them in a covered pot for about four minutes. At this point, immediately put them into ice water for five minutes. Place them in freezer bags, and put them in the freezer.


Carrots are also able to be preserved in the same way. Cut them into pieces, and then boil the pieces in a covered pot for three to five minutes, and then put them immediately into ice water for three minutes before bagging and freezing them.


Cauliflower is slightly different. Begin by cutting them into small florets that are about an inch across. Next, boil four teaspoons of salt for every gallon of water with the lid on. Once the salt has dissolved in to water, boil your florets for three minutes with the lid on, and then immediately place them in the ice water for three to five minutes. Then place in freezer bags and freeze.


Unfortunately, cucumbers have to be eaten fresh. The only way to preserve them is to pickle them, and that is more advanced than we have time to go into here. If you attempt to freeze them, they will turn into mush. Lettuce is another garden favorite that must be eaten fresh. There is no way to freeze them because they will turn into mush as well.


Green beans are another food that is easy to preserve for later consumption. Cut them to the desired size, and then boil them in a covered pot for three minutes. Immediately place them in ice water for three minutes, and then they can be bagged and frozen.


Onions are a little different. After pulling them, you should place them in a warm and dry area for two to four weeks, or until the outer skin in dry and papery. Cut the tops off about an inch above the bulb, and then store then in a mesh bag in a cool and dry area that does not freeze.


After digging potatoes, place them in the sun for two to three hours to cure. Then, place them in a paper bag with newspaper between the layers. They then should be stored in a cool location.


Radishes can also be preserved by blanching. Cut off the tops and roots, and then boil them for two to three minutes in a covered pot. Immediately put them into ice water for three minutes, and then place into bags and freeze.


Raspberries are easily preserved. Simply rinse them off and drain, and then place them in a single later on a tray and place them in the freezer. The next morning, take them out, place them into freezer bags, and then toss them in the freezer.


Tomatoes are a little different. There is no way to preserve them for eating them whole, but if you want them for sauces, all that you need to do is to cut off the stems, cut the tomatoes into quarters, and then place them into bags and freeze. They will be mushy when they are thawed, but they will still work well for sauce.


I hope the above ideas will help you to be able to stretch out the enjoyment of your fall harvest this year. Keep in mind that you want to do the above procedures as close to the time of picking in order to preserve the most freshness. You won’t be happy with the result if you leave your vegetables in the refrigerator for two weeks and them spend the time to blanch them.


Gary Harris



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