Food in a Preservation Garden



If you are interested in being more self-sufficient, to have nutritious food at the ready, reduce your food bill or just want to save the extras from the garden this year, there are simple ways to preserve many different vegetables from the garden: freezing, drying, canning, and pickling.

I only do canning of high acid vegetables like tomatoes or pickling so only a large pot is needed.  If you decide to can low acid vegetables, then a high pressure canner is needed. See a few of my favorite sites and resources for canning.

Spring Food in a Preservation Garden

Vegetables that are easy to put away for year-round eating include beets, basil, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, greens, herbs, onions, peas and snow peas, peppers, tomatoes and squash.

The easiest to start with are herbs. Spices are very expensive in the store.  Herbs are carefree and produce alot that can be dried or frozen to use year round. My two favorites are making pesto from basil (Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil) and using a variety of dried herbs to make my own "Herbes de Provence" that I add to almost every dish. Because many kitchen herbs used in North America are from the Mediterranean region, they thrive in mediocre soil and dry conditions.

For spring and fall planting for a preservation garden: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, garlic, greens, cool season herbs like cilantro and parsley, onions, peas, potatoes and snow peas. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, greens, and snow peas should be blanched and then frozen. Blanching stops the degradation of the vegetable in the freezer, increasing the shelf life to months. Blanching simply means putting into boiling water and then immediately into ice water or very cold water to stop the cooking of the vegetable.  For the bigger veggies, 3 minutes in boiling water is sufficient. For greens, just a couple of minutes. After blanching, remove the excess water. I like to then put on a cookie sheet in the freezer in a single layer. After freezing, I put in freezer bags. This way, your veggies will defrost quicker and you can remove only what you want to use for that meal. If just put directly into the freezer bag, they will all freeze together in one big block.

Dry any vegetable, store in a sealed jar, and rehydrate when needed for cooking. The trick is to make sure that they are dried enough that they will not mold. If in doubt, your dried produce can be stored in the frig or freezer, taking up much less room than the whole vegetable.

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