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The ultimate guide to preserving fresh produce

The ultimate guide to preserving fresh produce

Collection of preserved vegetables and fruits

All the things you want to know to protect fresh produce to your freezer and pantry
Picture: Shutterstock

What higher manner to take care of a glut, eat wholesome meals, and be extra self-sufficient than by preserving your seasonal harvests? Right here we check out 5 alternative ways to take advantage of your fruit and vegetable plants by preserving the excess for future use. 

From freezing to pickling, and drying to bottling, we provide the fundamentals of every methodology. We’ve additionally requested a few of our favorite bloggers to share their useful hints – preserving is straightforward, enjoyable and assured to make winter meals far more tasty.

Primary tools for preserving homegrown produce

Closeup of jams in sterilised jars

Sterilised glass jars are important for preserving issues like jams, chutneys and pickles
Picture: 5 second Studio/Shutterstock

The excellent news is that preserving fruit and veg doesn’t require any specialist tools. Actually, many of the stuff you’ll want are stuff you in all probability already personal. Listed here are some gadgets that make the job a bit simpler:

  • Saucepans – a pleasant large saucepan is important for making jam. Should you’re intending to make massive portions, a jam pan is an effective funding as a result of it’s designed to cease the sugar from burning and to make it simpler to pour the recent liquid. A jam thermometer is essentially the most correct manner to gauge the setting level of your jam.
  • Ladles and slotted spoons – no matter you’ve gotten to hand will in all probability do the job. Do make sure that to sterilise your utensils earlier than use when canning or pickling.
  • A funnel – makes mild work of filling bottles and jars.
  • A dehydrator is a superb funding for anybody intending to dry lots of meals, in any other case your oven works completely effectively.
  • Loads of zip lock luggage for the freezer, in addition to sterilised jars for jams, chutneys and pickles.
  • Mason jars and a pot lifter for eradicating them out of your water tub.

1. Freezing

Collection of different fruits in bowls

Over at Craft Invaders, Sarah likes to freeze the fruit she forages together with her kids
Picture: Craft Invaders

Freezing might be essentially the most simple manner to course of surplus meals. Most individuals personal a freezer, and it’s simple to inventory it with bagged fruit and veg, plus do-it-yourself ‘ready-meals’ you’ll be able to prepare dinner now and put away to eat later.

You’ll be able to freeze just about something, however do keep in mind that water expands because it freezes, breaking down cell partitions. The larger the water content material of what you’re freezing, the soggier will probably be whenever you defrost it. Raspberries and blackberries gained’t hold their form as soon as they’ve thawed out, however that’s no cause not to freeze them – simply use them in your morning smoothie or a fruit crumble.

Attempt freezing cooked spinach in ice dice trays prepared to add to soups and stews; puree your tomatoes prepared to add to sauces; and bag up surplus peas, inexperienced beans, cauliflower and carrots to take pleasure in later within the 12 months. You’ll be able to freeze most veg with out a lot processing aside from chopping it into suitably sized slices, or chunks. However something you freeze should be washed totally underneath working water first.

Take into account blanching – immersing the veg in boiling water for between one and 5 minutes – earlier than freezing as a result of it helps to protect flavour, color and texture, and is assumed to cut back the lack of vitamin content material. Drain and/or dry produce totally earlier than sealing in ziplock luggage prepared for the freezer.

Frozen veg lasts for between 8 and 12 months relying in your freezer, however it does deteriorate over time. Discard something with lots of ice crystals caked to it, something that has shrivelled or which is discoloured – and belief your nostril – if it smells off, bin it.

2. Canning or bottling

Jarred tomatoes to help preserving

Often referred to as bottling within the UK, Karen Burns-Sales space makes use of a water tub to protect tomatoes
Picture: Lavender and Lovage

The identify suggests you want tin cans to can meals, however in truth, canning (or bottling) refers to the method of heat-treating and bottling pickles in a combination of vinegar, salt and spices. This course of requires some preparation to run easily. You’ll want:

  • Mason jars
  • An enormous saucepan
  • Tea towels
  • Oven gloves
  • Funnel
  • Ladle / slotted spoon

Earlier than you start, be sure that all of your jars and utensils are clear and sterile. We advise placing the whole lot by means of the dishwasher or giving it a radical wash in scorching soapy water, earlier than sterilising. To sterilise your mason jars, deliver your large pan of water to the boil, and immerse your jars for a number of minutes. Failing that, put your jars within the oven on fuel mark 2 or 140 – 150C for ten minutes earlier than use. Sterilise your tools simply earlier than you want it and place your clear jars on tea towels to catch any spills.

Whether or not you’re canning a wealthy tomato sauce or fresh picked veg, observe whichever recipe you’re utilizing to the letter and be actual. When prepared, fill your jars, leaving a half inch of house on the high of the jar to enable for a vacuum to type. Taking a paper towel dipped in pickling vinegar, wipe any extra off the thread and neck of the jar – the jars should be fully clear to enable a superb seal to type. Now screw the lids on till you are feeling them chew, however no tighter – you want to enable for gasses to escape so {that a} vacuum varieties within the jar throughout cooling.

Place your jars within the massive pan of boiling water in order that they’re fully lined by not less than an inch. Go away a few inches between every jar so the warmth can penetrate the contents. Boil for the interval advised by the canning recipe you’re utilizing – if doubtful, err on the aspect of warning and boil them a bit longer. Take away jars utilizing a pot lifter or tongs and place onto tea towels or a cooling rack, and depart undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.

Once they’re cool, you have to be ready to take away the metallic ring from the mason jar and carry by the lid alone – this can be a manner to test you’ve gotten a superb seal. Now label and place within the cabinet. Unopened canned meals lasts for 12-18 months. If you do open it, put it within the fridge immediately and devour inside just a few days.

3. Pickling

Pickled carrots cheeseboard

Over at Tin & Thyme, Chocolate’s carrot pickle is a more-ish winner
Picture: Tin & Thyme

There are two fundamental strategies concerned right here, and it’s vital to know which is which. So-called ‘quick pickling’ refers to pickles you make for the fridge. They’re supposed to be made fresh and used inside weeks.

The second approach makes use of a course of referred to as lacto-fermentation. That is the way you rework fresh veggies into the gut-friendly jars of sauerkraut and kimchi lauded for his or her skill to rework your well being. When saved appropriately within the fridge, they final for up to six months. Filled with wholesome micro organism, they style scrumptious too which, so far as we’re involved, is by far the perfect cause for making them. The better part – it’s a straightforward job that anybody can have a go at.

Fast pickling:

You’ll want sterilised mason jars, and pickling vinegar, plus any pickling spices you’d like to use to flavour your produce. To make a pleasant crunchy pickle, fill your jars with chunky chopped veg, leaving house on the high in order that whenever you pour in your vinegar, it fully covers your pickles. Now merely screw the lids on tight and pop the jars into the fridge. Your pickles are prepared to eat right away, however the style will mature over time. Pickles you make this fashion needs to be consumed inside 3 days to a month – at all times observe the recipe, and discard on the slightest signal of decay.

Lacto-fermentation:

This methodology includes curing your produce in brine; it encourages good micro organism to thrive whereas deterring any unhealthy micro organism from rising. Once more, whenever you’re making sauerkraut or kimchi, it’s crucial to observe the recipe to the letter.

First, wash and chop your greens earlier than putting them in a fermentation bin or crock pot. Taking a separate bowl, make a brine utilizing pickling salt and water, then pour it over the veg till it’s fully lined. Now take a cock weight (a weighted lid that sits contained in the container) and squash the contents down to make sure that they continue to be submerged throughout fermentation. Now put the principle lid on and place in a cool, darkish place – the storage, for instance.

As soon as fermentation begins, test it each three days. You could discover that mould grows on the floor of the fluid – that’s often high-quality, simply scoop it off. Fermentation continues for 2-6 weeks and is full when the effervescent stops. The longer the fermentation, the extra bitter the flavour, so do style it and devour when it will get to a stage you’re pleased with. As soon as fermentation is full, switch the pickle to smaller sterilised jars which is able to hold for a number of months within the fridge.

4. Drying and dehydrating

Dried fruit snacks on shelves

Kev of An English Homestead loves drying fresh fruit as snacks for the youngsters
Picture: An English Homestead

Drying preserves meals by eradicating a lot of the moisture content material which deters the expansion of micro organism and fungi. Herbs are significantly appropriate for drying since they don’t freeze effectively – merely hold them in a heat dry spot till the leaves turn into crisp, then strip them from the stems and pop them right into a sterilised jar.

Use your oven to dry apples, plums, pears and different fruit – it makes a beautiful path combine or topping to your morning muesli. Wash and dry your fruit, minimize it into slices and place in a single layer on a baking tray. Bake on a low temperature till the fruit dries to a leathery texture. If you minimize it with a knife, test for beads of moisture on the blade, and if there are any, dry for a bit longer earlier than storing in a clear, hermetic container. Greens needs to be brittle, like crisps, and straightforward to snap.

If you would like to take it a step additional, take your dried produce and blitz it in a meals processor to create a powder. Over at Veg Plotting, Michelle makes a flavoursome garlic powder for fast meal-prep. Dried greens lend themselves effectively to this therapy, including a strong and nutritious punch to residence cooked meals.

If working your oven all day appears wasteful, you could possibly spend money on a dehydrator which makes use of a heater component and air circulation to take away moisture from produce prior to storing. The producer’s directions ought to inform you how lengthy it takes to dry completely different fruit and greens.

5. Syrups and cordials

Fig leaf syrup in bottle

A touch of Kate’s fig leaf syrup livens up prosecco and provides flavour to salad dressings
Picture: Diary of a Country Girl

Syrups are fast and straightforward to make, imparting a shot of flavour to drinks, salad dressings, ice cream sundaes or just stirred by means of Greek yogurt. At its most simple, syrup is made by bringing a big saucepan of water to the boil with sugar and chopped fruit (or different substances). Simmer the combination for about 10 minutes or till it has lowered and thickened. Then go by means of a strainer or blitz in a processor. Your syrup might be served heat over pancakes or chilled and saved within the fridge for up to per week. You can too freeze parts, preserving the goodness for a number of months.

Preserving your produce for future consumption is a good way to take pleasure in tasty homegrown fruit and veg all 12 months spherical. It’s additionally enjoyable, rewarding and is a wonderful manner to lower your expenses in your meals purchasing.