How to Store Your Garden Harvest Properly to Keep It Fresh Longer
Luscious green plants, birds chirping, butterflies, and sweet smells – this is your happy place.
Yes, I’m speaking of your garden. You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into making this place grow, and you have a harvest.
Yet, you are unsure of what to do with the product of your labor. Those are reasonable feelings for most beginner gardeners.
However, you don’t have to keep your mind parked there. You can follow a few simple steps and learn how to handle your garden harvest. This way, your harvest and hard work won’t go to waste.
How To Store Your Harvest
If you want to utilize every bit of your harvest, follow these steps:
1. Bring Your Harvest to the Kitchen
When you have finished harvesting your garden, it is time to head towards the house. Most of your harvest should make its way indoors.
However, if you have harvested produce which is not quite ripe yet, find a sunny spot where they can finish ripening.
This can be in a sunny kitchen window, on a deck, or a patio. The sun is great for the vegetables which weren’t fully ripe.
There could’ve been numerous reasons you have green veggies to deal with. It could be drawing near to the end of the season, and you decided to pick them instead of losing them to frost.
Maybe you picked some veggies on accident, or you found some vegetables which had fallen to the ground and weren’t entirely ripe but there wasn’t anything wrong with them.
For whatever reason, be sure this part of your harvest finds a sunny spot. The rest of your crop must be brought indoors as quickly as possible.
Too much sunlight can continue ripening your harvest which will turn it to mush and make it non-palatable.
2. Decisions, Decisions
Once the ripe vegetables have made inside, it is time to decide what to do with them. Depending on what you are going to do with them, will determine the rest of the steps to this process.
You could decide to enjoy your harvest fresh. Storing vegetables fresh means you are going to store them in your fridge and cook the vegetables within the week of their shelf-life.
However, if you won’t be able to use your harvest quickly, consider other options for preserving it.
First, you could choose to can your harvest. Canning is when you turn your vegetables into canned vegetables, like what you usually purchase at the store.
Only this method allows you to do it yourself and save money in the process.
Second, you could choose to freeze your harvest. Your harvest would be prepared to the point where you would normally cook it.
But then, instead, you would put the harvest in freezer bags and store for up to three months from there. It is a quick solution, but if you have a large crop, you could soon run out of freezer space.
You should consider this.
Third, you could decide to pickle your harvest. Pickling is a process where you put your vegetables in a vinegar solution and preserve them.
An example would be turning cucumbers into pickles for later use.
Finally, you could decide to dehydrate or freeze dry your foods. They both require specific pieces of equipment, but they have a similar effect. The food is either frozen to the point of being wholly dried (per freeze-drying), or you put the vegetables in a dehydrator until all the moisture has been extracted.
All these methods are great ways to save your harvest to use later and will ensure your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
3. Bath in Cold Water
When you have decided on what you are going to do with your harvest, you’ll need to determine whether you need to complete this step or not.
If you are going to utilize your harvest within the week, give them a quick bath in cold water to knock off any existing dirt from them.
However, if you are going to store your harvest through another type of preservation method, you won’t want to wash your harvest until the time you are going to work on preserving them.
If you wash foods before preserving them, it can allow moisture to get into your vegetables and cause rot to start.
The only way you could safely wash your vegetables ahead of preserving them is if you have a large cooler to be able to store your harvest in the meantime.
4. Storage Methods