Tips on Preserving Autumn’s Garden Bounty

| 8/15/2013 9:56:00 AM

Tags: preserving, freezing, Crystal Stevens, Illinois,

vegetable harvestThe Autumn Equinox sends a signal to the backyard gardeners’ cerebral cortex, gently reminding us that the harvest season has arrived and that now is the time to be preserving and putting up food for the winter. Within just a couple of short months, the garden will once again die off for the year, becoming dormant and barren, giving the soil a time to rest. An avid gardener’s greatest bounty occurs at this time of year. The seasoned homesteaders and canners have it down to a science, putting up multiple jars of canned tomatoes, sauces, salsas, fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies. Hats off to those folks. Becoming skilled in this age old hobby requires knowledge of safety measures and temperature regulation to prevent risks of botulism and temperamental pressure canners. I would recommend taking a few classes through your local Extension Office before delving into the art of pressure canning. For beginners, it is best to stick to the basics such as hot water bath canning and freezing.

Freezing is an underutilized and excellent way to preserve your garden bounty – and it’s virtually fool-proof. Below are 5 suggestions:

1. For squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes or eggplant, fully cook or blanch and freeze them in a freezer bag for quick meal additions. For vegetables such as peppers, corn or onions, just chop and freeze them to later add to omelettes, quiches, stir-fries, or other meals. This will make meal preparation more convenient too!

2. With your harvest, cook large batches of soups or stews and freeze in freezer bags to thaw and heat in any amount you desire.

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