Your summer garden is winding down, what can you do with the last bit of the harvest? Saving garden leftovers is a cost saving idea every grower should embrace.
Gardening is fun, but it also requires a lot of work. There’s planning, planting, weeding, watering, and of course the harvest. At the end of the season, you may be wondering how you can save every bit of that hard-won harvest and not get burned out.
Adopt several of these tips to maximize preservation times, save seeds for next year, and even keep some produce growing into the fall season.
Each fruit and vegetable will have the optimal storage method that is right for your family. Take, for instance, fresh corn. My family loves fresh corn and preserving it by the blanching and freezing method means that it tastes just like fresh, even during the winter. If I were to can that corn, my family would not eat it. They just don’t like the taste or texture of canned corn.
Pick the food preservation processing type that you enjoy doing, and that your family will eat. You’ll save time, money, and never waste food. There are several choices:
TIP – Before you begin, make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need. There is nothing worse than getting into a big canning project and realizing that you don’t have enough new lids to finish a batch. Check these items before digging into a big preservation session:
- canning lids
- freezer bags
- plastic freezer storage containers
- sharp knives
- ice for cooling after blanching
There are a lot of steps involved in food preservation. You may find that it’s best to set up a system to make it go smoothly. I like to set up different processing stations in my kitchen and batch tasks together. It makes the whole process go faster and even lets you split it out over several days.
This can be accomplished by making a washing station, cutting station, blanching station, a cooling station, and packing station. If it’s just you working with a lot of produce, begin by doing all the washing and cutting. batch similar tasks it will cut down on your
If it’s just you working with a lot of produce, begin by doing all the washing and cutting. Once that is finished you can move on to the blanching station and begin adding small batches of vegetables to a boiling water bath. When you batch similar tasks it will cut down on your overwhelm.
Spread the Love
Years ago I belonged to a group of women that had the same passion for canning as I do. We purchased several boxes of produce and met monthly at our local church to put them up for storage. It was a fun day that we all looked forward to.
If you have a large amount of food to process, get help from friends and family and spread the love around. Everyone will benefit from taking home a few bottles or bags of produce. Be sure to teach the kids and include the next generation in this important skill.
Small Batch Preserving
Sometimes you don’t have enough for a large batch of something that has become ripe in your garden today. Don’t let it go to waste. Years ago I learned to embrace small batch processing techniques and recipes.
Small yields give us an opportunity to try different recipes using the same basic ingredients. So that small batch of tomatoes from the garden can become a jar of salsa today. Then, next week it can be dehydrated for soups, and the following week a jar of stewed tomatoes.
Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard have a wonderful book called The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving. Look for it at your library or on Amazon. It is a trusted addition to my library.
Harvest and Store Seeds
At some point, you’re probably going to get tired of all that preserving! That’s the time to learn the art of harvesting seeds from your garden. Each kind of vegetable has its own specific requirements, but none of them are hard to learn or do. Get instructions about how to harvest all kinds of seeds from the Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook and from our tutorial on fermenting heirloom tomato seeds for storage.
Once the seeds are harvested, try this technique for storing seeds for up to 10 years.
Regrow vegetables in water
It turns out that it’s possible to “regrow” many types of produce from the leftover scraps, saving money and food in one fell swoop. And although this might sound like a complicated science fair project, it’s actually incredibly simple to do.
Not every piece of produce regrows from the same part of the plant. From vegetables to fruits, there are a number of plant parts capable of regenerating growth that results in more of the same plant. Get detailed how to’s about growing vegetables from food scraps in this article from Fix.com
Source: Fix.com Blog
Plan Ahead with Staggered Planting
This is best accomplished at the beginning of the planting season, so keep it in mind for next year. The best tip for saving garden leftovers is to make use of staggered planting so you will have a harvest size that you can process.
Staggered planting is growing the same vegetable, but planting the seeds on different dates throughout the season so you can enjoy a longer period of fresh vegetables. This longer period may also mean you have a manageable harvest for food preservation.