3 Time-Tested Ways to Preserve Your Harvest
Harvest season is upon us, and if you’ve done a few things right, you may have more herbs and produce coming out of your garden than you know what to do with! Rather than let all that good stuff go to waste, it’s helpful to know how to make it last. We’re here to help with a look at some tried and true methods for preserving your harvested goods.
Check out our summary of some common preservation techniques to figure out which one is right for you!
One of the most popular methods of preserving hard-earned harvests is air-drying. This is a good way to cure your product if you’d like to keep it in dry storage for long periods of time. Some processes work better than others, depending on the type of goods you’re preserving. Here are the three most common methods of air-drying your product:
Hanging your harvested goods in a well-ventilated area is a simple method for preserving herbs or other products that don’t have a high water content. Once cut, herbs can be laid out individually or bundled in small batches before tying up to hang dry. If you’re drying herbs in bulk, the collapsible Flower Tower Dry Rack features easily accessible mesh trays that allow for maximum airflow while protecting your goods from dust and pests.
Many people have small personal dehydrators at home, and use these to dry both herbs and sliced fruits or vegetables. If you’re using this method, be sure to follow the instructions on your device carefully to avoid over- or under-drying your products.
A more labor-intensive, and less precise, way of drying your crop is by using your home oven. Place your product on an oven-safe baking tray and leave it in the oven at around 100 degrees for a few hours. This method requires constant monitoring, rotating, and often adjusting the temperature to avoid cooking or crisping your product, and for this reason it can yield inconsistent results.
Canning is a perfect preservation method for many fruits and vegetables, although the exact approach can vary depending on your supplies, experience, and desired outcome. Here are a few popular methods:
Hot Water Bath
A hot water bath is the most commonly used canning method and involves preparing and sealing the jars in a pot of boiling water. Bath length varies depending on the recipe, and the temperature needed to sanitize and seal the jars isn’t as high as with pressure canning. This method is ideal for higher acidity foods, such as jams, jellies, and sauces.
Pressure canning is used on low-acidity foods because the jars can reach a higher temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria. This method is commonly used for preserving meats but can also be used for salsa and vegetables. Follow the instructions for your pressure cooker when using this method.
Pickling involves the creation of an acidic environment to kill harmful bacteria, either with vinegar or brine. Great pickled foods include cucumbers, green beans, garlic, beets, and even apples and plums. Follow the instructions for the specific recipe you’re using, as specific steps and pickling times can vary.
Freezing is another easy way to preserve your crop. This method is better for maintaining the flavor of some herbs, such as mint, basil, and parsley. Consider pulling whole leaves from herbs; these can be frozen on trays between layers of parchment or wax paper and stored in ziplock bags once fully frozen.
Many garden fruits and veggies can be sliced, bagged, and frozen for up to 12 months for later use. Zucchini, in particular, is a versatile vegetable that can be shredded and used for zucchini bread, sliced for use in stir frys, or spiral-cut into the adorably named “zoodles,” a greenish impersonation of pasta noodles.
Cache and Carry
Of course, the whole point of preserving your harvest is to make it last. When you’re ready to store your goods, check out Left Coast Turkey Bags for protecting your product from oxidization and pests, and Boveda Humidity Control Packs for maintaining the perfect levels of moisture, and quality, over time.
We hope these tips help you preserve your harvest for short or long term storage. Check out our blog for more helpful growing advice from our team of experts!