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Get Growing: Simple ways to preserve your bounty

Keep your vegetables to eat this winter
veggies harvest 8_7
Single day harvest of 21.57 lbs in early August. Lots of food to eat and lots to preserve.

What do you do when you find yourself swimming in vegetables from your super awesome urban farm or garden?  Sure, you could give all the excess vegetables away to your friends, family, neighbors, etc. or you could save it for the winter.

Throughout the summer you should constantly be thinking, “how can I preserve this for the winter?” Preserving some items are obvious. If you have excess tomatoes, you make tomato sauce, put the sauce in jars or freeze it.  Boom, easy.  Veggies appear to be tough to preserve but really it’s quite simple, you can blanch and freeze them.

Blanching is very easy. To blanch vegetables start by boiling water. Then throw your vegetables in the boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes. Next, transfer the vegetables to cool water, or ice water, then drying them off and vacuum seal them and place them in the freezer.

There are a few items that are even easier than that, mainly garlic, onions, beets and radishes, but we’ll cover those below.

Here are the rough blanching times for the veggies that you likely have a lot of:

Kale – 2 minutes, blanch and freeze the leaves whole, take the stem off when you thaw them out.

Chard – 2 minutes, blanch and freeze the leaves whole, stems are edible.

Beans – 2 minutes, you can cut the tips off before or after freezing, the choice is yours.

Squash – 4 minutes, slice into slices (as if you’re going to cook them) then blanch the slices followed by freezing.

What you do not want to blanch and freeze:

Garlic – Dry for 2 weeks, cut the stem off, put in a breathable bag in the fridge. Garlic should keep for a year.

Onions – Dry for 2 weeks, cut the stem off, keep in a cool place. Onions usually keep for several months and sometimes longer. 

Beets and Radishes – Take the greens off. You can eat or blanch and freeze the greens. Put the bulbs in a non-breathable bag and place in the fridge. These will keep for several months if not much longer. Check periodically for excess moisture — which can lead to mold. Change the bag as needed.

There you have it, how to quickly and easily preserve your bounty.  You can also use these methods to preserve produce you buy from your favorite local farm or farmers market to have access to fresh, local food year-round even if you’re not growing it yourself.