When the summer draws to a close and your homegrown produce is ripe for picking, the real challenge is knowing how to deal with this glut.
Luckily there are lots of ways to store and manage each year’s harvest effectively. Here are some tips to help you make the most of harvest season and minimise waste.
Canning & jarring
Transforming your harvest into shelf-stable creations is a rewarding process. Canning not only extends the life of your produce, but it also allows you to enjoy homegrown goods year-round.
From fruits and vegetables to soups and sauces, nearly every item from your harvest can be safely preserved with this method. If you don’t want to go all-out and acquire canning equipment, using well-sterilised jars will serve just as well.
Once done, you can bask in the knowledge that with each pop of a jar lid, fresh, homemade food awaits you no matter what season.
Freezing produce fresh
Freezing is an excellent strategy for keeping both fruits and veggies tasting garden-fresh long after harvest season has passed.
By blanching vegetables before freezing, you can retain their colour, texture and taste without losing any nutritional value.
With fresh fruit, a simple rinse, pat dry and tray freeze process will do wonders in preserving their quality. So when winter rolls around, your freezer can be your best friend.
Fermentation & pickling
These are age-old processes which not only amplify your food’s taste profile, but fill it with beneficial gut-friendly bacteria too.
Here’s a brief rundown on fermenting and pickling at home:
- Start small: begin by pickling simple veggies such as cucumbers or cabbage before trying other ingredients.
- Sterilise everything: be sure all jars, lids, and tools are squeaky clean for this bacterial reaction.
- Choose your brine: most traditional ferments use saltwater brine, while others may call for dairy or vinegar bases.
- Wait it out: patiently wait until you’ve achieved the desired tanginess, which is typically one to three weeks.
Fermenting also keeps the concept of waste foreign in your household. Left-overs can easily become kimchi, sauerkraut or pickle, making them last longer and be more digestible too!
Don’t overlook your everyday kitchen appliances in the fight against food waste. Your refrigerator, oven, and even dehydrator are powerful tools that can aid in preserving the quality of your harvest bounty.
For instance, you can dehydrate fruits for easy snacking, or use low-heat settings on your oven to dry out herbs and veggies.
Remember also that a well-stocked fridge is key to keeping produce fresh for as long as possible. Just make sure all tools are running smoothly to win at winter storage. If you need any components to fix up misbehaving appliances, you can always order them from PartsCentre.
Give it away
When counters and pantries are overflowing, it might be best to share your bountiful harvest with others. Donating surplus produce to local food banks or community kitchens is a helpful option that reduces waste while helping those in need.
Organising a neighbourhood produce exchange event can also enhance ties within your community, while fostering an appreciation for homegrown foods. Sometimes the most satisfying way of managing abundance is by spreading joy to other tables.
The bottom line
Managing an abundance of food is all about preservation techniques and community sharing. Whether it’s canning creatively, using kitchen appliances effectively, freezing fresh produce, or fermenting for added flavour, each method ensures you enjoy your harvest bounty well into winter. And what can’t be stored should be shared with others, creating a chain of wholesome happiness.