Are you thinking about preserving vegetables from your organic garden? That’s great! You might have a lot of produce from your garden and you are unsure of what to do with it. You will need to know the best way to preserve the produce to keep it fresh for a long time.
These vegetables can include tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, kales, leaf salads, bell peppers, carrots, and onions. Preserving will save the excess produce, prevent contamination by different microorganisms, and delay the enzyme spoilage.
What is Preserving Vegetables?
Preserving vegetables is finding ways to make the vegetables last longer. Preservation involves applying science-based knowledge through a variety of available technologies and procedures.
Even before freezing became a preservation method, people still used natural methods to make sure their food didn’t go bad easily. However, it is important to check the most suitable method to preserve certain vegetables.
Let’s check out the various methods of preserving food below!
How to Preserve Vegetables? – 4 Easy Methods
Vegetables can be preserved through various methods. These methods include:
This is where you place your vegetables in jars or cans. The jars or cans are then heated with the food stuffed inside to a temperature that kills the microorganisms that promote the spoilage of food.
If you are planning to can your vegetables, sterilize the jars or cans with simmering water before putting in the vegetables. Note that canned foods should be eaten within the year of canning.
Salt is known to absorb moisture. The hypertonic properties of salt make it difficult for bacteria to survive on salted food. Salting, in this case, gives vegetables a unique flavor only found when preserving.
You could use the salt in its solid nature or dissolve salt in the water to form brine. Before eating salted vegetables, you are supposed to soak them in cold water for 2 to 8 hours to remove the excess salt.
This involves eliminating all the moisture in vegetables to reduce the survival of bacteria. When dried, the vegetables shrink, but that is okay! This drying process can either be done by an oven or dehydrator.
If you want to eat the dried vegetables you can use water to return them to their original shape. You should store dried vegetables in airtight containers and in a cool environment.
Freezing vegetables makes the bacteria inactive and ensures they cannot go bad. To freeze vegetables, you will have to dry them first. After drying the vegetables, put them in airtight containers or metal trays, then put them in the freezer.
You have the option of keeping the already frozen vegetables in freezer bags or just leaving them on the trays and containers in the fridge. Note that vegetables last for, at most, 18 months when frozen.
What Types of Vegetables can be Preserved?
The most appropriate preservation method will vary depending on what vegetables you use. Complete ripeness of vegetables happens when the color, flavor, and texture develop.
Mature vegetables are under-ripe, so they can be preserved through canning and pickling methods. When ripe, the best method for preserving is drying or freezing. Overripe vegetables can best be preserved through freezing.
Some vegetables that are suitable for preservation are:
When harvested, mushrooms tend to have a lot of dirt on them. You are supposed to clean mushrooms extremely well before preserving them.
Sometimes over washing mushrooms may wash away the flavor and nutrients. It is advised to scrape the dirt off using a knife or scalpel and wash them with a little bit of water.
After cleaning you can now dry the mushrooms in the oven or dehydrator. You could also freeze, salt, or pack the mushrooms in oil for preservation.
Carrots do not need much attention or work when preserving. You can just leave them in cool places or even the floor.
If you want your carrots to last long, do not wash them but store them in a place with high humidity.
You could also dry your carrots. When it comes to the freezing option, one has to peel the carrots, wash them well, and dice or slice them before packing them in freezer bags or containers.
You can freeze tomatoes when turned into a paste or when in their whole form. It all depends on your preference. When freezing them you are supposed to peel off the skin.
You can also dry tomatoes, which could take about 12 hours in the oven. This can be done on cherry tomatoes as well. Tomatoes are really sensitive and if you don’t preserve them early, they will over-ripen and go bad.
Cabbages are known to have less water content when compared to leafy vegetables such as kales. Cabbage can be preserved through refrigeration, which would last for 2 months.
They start turning black, get a foul smell, and start being slides. The smell can really make your kitchen unpleasant. So, you need to preserve them early enough.
After harvesting or buying onions, you can preserve them through freezing. You could also store them in a cool dark room with good ventilation to cut the freezing costs. Onions should be taken out of the garden when they have dried well.
If they aren’t dried yet, they will go bad extremely fast. So, take charge and preserve the onions early enough. Onions help add flavor to the food you cook.
If you are planning to store your spinach in the fridge, you should clean them thoroughly. You can also dry spinach as a way of preserving them.
Spinach is healthy and should only be cooked for a short while to preserve the nutrients. If left open for more than a day, you will see the color start to change.
Keep Your Vegetables Fresh This Winter!
When it comes to preservation methods, you are supposed to weigh the options you have with other factors. One of the main factors to be considered is cost. Before preserving your vegetables, you should figure out the pros and cons of each method.
Salting is considered the cheapest method of preservation while freezing is considered the most expensive method. When preparing these vegetables, you should be keen to avoid small mistakes that could mess them up and make them go bad quickly.
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