If you grow your own food on any level, from a small patch in your garden to a full-on allotment plot, Autumn is very much the season of harvesting.
It’s hard to beat freshly-picked produce, but the reality is often that we have more than we can possibly eat. For us this year the gluts have been courgettes and tomatoes, we’ve been pretty much up to our ears in them!
For me, the pleasure in growing our own fruit and vegetables is not only being able to enjoy them when they are in season, but also to be able to store and preserve any excess so that we can enjoy them at other times of the year. Here are some ideas for how to make the most of your lovely homegrown harvest.
Use your freezer – now’s the time to clear some space in your freezer and freeze your spare fruit and veg. Lots of produce freezes really well, take a look at this website for detailed instructions for each type of produce.
The old art of canning – canning is basically preserving your fruit and veg; pickles, jams, chutneys and the like. You can really get carried away here, the internet has so many ideas for recipes and methods! Check out the BBC Good Food website for a great list of recipes to start you off.
Get inspiration online – the internet is a fantastic source of advice and inspiration when it comes to gardening and grow your own, I particularly love Pinterest, you’ll find lots of tips on my harvest time board. Or you could use an online gardening forum like the fab one from Grow Your Own magazine which is full of gardeners sharing their tips.
Batch cooking -a lifesaver if you’re short on time, batch cooking is great for using up spare produce, and at the same time it gives you a stock of frozen meals which you can defrost when there’s no time to cook. We’ve been making and freezing lots of ratatouille with our courgette and tomato glut, other great ideas are pasta sauces, vegetable lasagne, potato gratin, vegetable tagine and roasted root veg.
Preserve your herbs – there are many ways to preserve homegrown herbs for use all year round, take a look at my post on preserving herbs for lots of ideas.
Make soup – soup is a fantastic option for using up vegetables – and a crafty way for getting kids to eat them too! To save on cooking time we make big batches and freeze some.
Give back – one of my favourite things about growing our own food is being able to share it with others. Sharing your harvest with a local food bank, friends or neighbours is a wonderful way to make a positive difference in your local community, it’s a great life skills experience for kids too.
What tips do you have for making the most of harvest time? Pop them in the comments and we can all share the good ideas 🙂