If you're a vegetable gardener, harvesting is the least of your worries. A great harvest can leave you with a lot of food you can't eat very quickly. Once you've loaded your neighbors down with all the tomatoes, plums, green beans and acorn squash they can handle, you're left to figure out what to do with the rest of it.
The simplest long-term storage method for fruits and vegetables is freezing. Invest in a good deep freezer for your garage and load up on high-quality storage freezer bags. When freezing, think in terms of serving size. Freeze only the amount you'll cook and prepare at one time to cut down on waste and add to your convenience.
When freezing green beans, string, cut, and blanch (steam or boil for a few minutes) them before freezing. Veggies such as squash can be frozen whole (after boiling), if you wish. If you freeze whole, just remember you'll have to thaw them before you chop and prepare. Many find slicing up their veggies before freezing them to be an ideal solution, allowing them to cut down on later meal prep time.
Botulism is a type of food poisoning often associated with canning, especially home canning. This often makes people shy away from this method of vegetable and fruit preservation. However, home canning has come a long way, and the use of a pressure cooker will help ensure your can of fruit or vegetables reaches the right temperature and seals properly. Food poisoning is an overrated worry and not something that should prevent you from trying this method. According to freshpreserving.com, "Using the correct processing temperature and time to preserve low-acid foods will destroy toxin-producing spores."
Canning is great for both fruits and vegetables. Fruits are most often preserved in home canning by making preserves or jams, which also make welcome gifts. When canning yellow squash, consider adding a bit of vinegar in the jar to help preserve the vegetable's color. For tomatoes, a great option is homemade canned spaghetti sauce.
Plastic Containers and Storage Bags
While canning and freezing are the best storage methods for long-term fruit and vegetable storage, not all fruit and vegetables have to be stored long-term. If you can eat the produce in a couple of weeks, you can store it in your fridge.
For the shortest-term storage, use plastic containers with a tight seal. Storage bags may be better for whatever you can't eat in a week. Many types of storage bags are on the market now which preserve the freshness and color of your fruits and vegetables longer.
If it doesn't seem you'll eat something in time, go ahead and cook it, and then either put the cooked portions in plastic containers to give you several more days to consume it, or freeze it.
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