Garden Journal

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Storing the Harvest

Storing the Harvest
Success in the garden has meant that I have had to research some food storage and preservation techniques. The basic goal is to preserve food for as long as possible, as safely as possible, and to maintain as much of the nutrition and taste as possible. Many food store themselves. Garlic stay for about 6-9 months as long as you keep it out of direct sun and in dry air. Onions are the same. Hot peppers dry on the window sill. Parsnips and Jeruselum Artichokes stay in the ground through the winter. Sqaush like "Butternut" and "Spaggetti" can be left out on the shelf for 4-6 months.
But most garden produce will succumb to the natural forces of rot and decay without processing and storage. For this produce I use the preservation techniques of canning / pickling, drying, cold storing in the cellar, and freezing. Each vegetable has its own needs in terms of processing, but some general rules are: High acid food like tomatoes and fruits can be canned (without a pressure cooker), green things that are low acid are best frozen, root veges can be stored in the cellar (sometimes in sand), and almost anything can be dried but it can take a long time and only a few foods seem to taste good dried.

Here is one of the shelves in the root cellar. My neighbor was going to toss these, so I mounted them against the wall in our cellar. Here we have Jams: strawberry, apricot, blueberry, mint; some pickled jalapenos, vege broth, and canned peeled tomatoes. The bottom shelf is the potatoes. They are still firm and good after a month and a half. I think they will last about 3-4 months.

Cabinet #2. Here we have pickled beans or "dilly beans", pickled beets, and a bunch of apple preserves: sweetend apple sauce for eating, unsweetened for baking sweet breads, and apple pie filling

More tomato products. We got canned tomatoes, marinara sauce, and some enchilada sacue that I make with chiles and cloves and cinnamon is a tomatoe base.

Here are the sand boxes. The one of the left has beets in it and the one on the right has carrots. They will store like this for a couple months. You don't want to leave them out in the ground past their prime or they get woody.

Here is the stand up freezer. I got it on craiglist for a great deal. It is working great. Freezing make storage very easy.

It is hard to tell what is what, but so far we have greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard), okra, corn, hot peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, sliced bell peppers, and lots of bread from my friend Natasha.

Another food that stores itslef is beans. I have just started to get into growing beans for drying this year. I want to do much more of it next year. It is going to be a great source of calories in the winter.


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