During the winter months, spring seems like it will never arrive. Now is actually the best time to get ready for your vegetable garden. What kinds of fruits and vegetables will you be growing this year? Will you be growing more than usual? With a little forethought, you can grow for storage.
So, while you?re looking out the window at the remnants of sleet and snow, wondering what you can possibly do in this weather, start planning your garden. The first thing you can do is place your seed order. And once the weather warms up, you are ready to start sowing seeds and planting your bountiful garden.
When your garden sprouts up, you will want to preserve your fresh fruits and vegetables. Rather than letting all your goodies go to waste, you should consider canning, freezing and drying the items you have. A little effort can go a long way to preserving the flavor and food all season long!
When you preserve food in jars, this is referred to as canning. This allows you to store food without taking up room in refrigerators or freezers. Canning is not a recipe but a sanitary process. Keep in mind that canning does not improve the quality of food, so if you start out with low quality fruits and vegetables it will only get worse in storage.
The easiest preservation method is by far freezing, as long as you have the space for it. Before freezing, you should blanch items. All this means is to put the food in boiling water for the prescribed time and let it cool off quickly. Blanching helps to loosen skins for peeling and prepares some vegetables for freezing. Also, try to use plastic bags made for freezing, as they are less likely to let food dry out.
Dehydrating is one of the world?s oldest forms of food preservation. It requires no preservatives and it yields great tasting food with months of shelf life. Drying essentially shrinks food for storage and helps to avoid bacterial growth. In some cases, drying can actually intensify the flavor of the food. The best way to dry out food is by using a dehydrator. Electric ones can be pricey but very effective. Or, you could use your oven.
It is important to remember to store your food storage safely. The way that you store your food cannot only affect the shelf life of the food, but also the safety of the food itself. In this economy, being a little frugal and preserving your fresh fruits and vegetables can go a long way. Plus, growing your own foods and enjoying them all year long is a good way to eat healthy and save money. Win-win!
Jackie Ryan is a freelance writer and amateur foodie! She loves to cook but hates when leftovers go bad. She’s recently invested in some great food storage containers to help her keep her food fresh longer!