Preservation of vegetables and meats have been practiced by humans since the ancient times as a way of ensuring food security. There were a lot of challenges to food supply then, everything was dependent on natural farming. To make the most of the harvest, excess produce was preserved to last long especially throughout winter.
Knowing how to preserve food in the comforts of your own home, can help you maximize the life of your fresh produce. Especially if you went overboard with the cucumber sale at your local market. If early humans preserve their own food, we can do the same. In fact, it just might be even a bit easier for us now! Since we don’t really hunt food anymore, let’s just focus on how we can preserve fruits and vegetables.
Preserving at Home
Although there are a number of ways to preserve fruits and vegetables, we want to focus on a few methods which you can easily do at home without taking up too much space or time.
There are 3 preservation methods that we want to share with you. These are easy, and some might already be familiar to you.
- Freezing vegetables and fruits
- Pickling vegetables
- Making Fruit Jams
Freezing Veggies & Fruits
Freezing fruits and vegetables can make them last for months instead of days or weeks. Here are some reasons why you may want to consider freezing your fruits and veggies:
- Enjoy them even when they’re out season – if you like seasonal fruits or vegetables, freezing them is a good way of preserving them and enjoying them even if they’re not in season anymore.
- Frozen fruit and veggie packs make meal prep easier – you can cut and pack them into per serving packs.
- It is a good way to prolong shelf life of excess vegetables. – do not throw them away!
- Freezing locks in the freshness and nutritional value of food.
If you are considering freezing them, you will need freezing bags:
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What types of fruits or vegetables can you freeze?
Can you freeze asparagus? Can you freeze broccoli? Can you freeze mangoes? Well, essentially, you can freeze any fruit of vegetables but some may not hold up as good in the extreme cold.
Some of the vegetables that you can’t freeze are: celery, watercress, endive, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers and radish. Since these have high water content, they will get soggy and water logged when thawed.
Tips for home-freezing
Here are some tips to help you get into freezing!
- Choose vegetables that are in good condition. Not blemished, just the right ripeness.
- Cut up the vegetables into pieces, as you prefer or need them to be.
- Blanch vegetables then shock them in cold water. Put vegetables in the boiling water, let them boil a bit. Then, using a strainer, fish them out and submerge them into a big bowl of ice cold water.
- Dry them thoroughly.
- Freeze you’re the vegetables in the inner most portion of the freezer. Lay them out (single-layer) spread them out in a flat pan or freezer-safe container.
- These will freeze at 0 degrees F or lower.
- Store them in freezer bags or airtight freezer-safe containers. Fill them full and press out any air. You can also vacuum seal them.
- Put labels and dates on your frozen fruits or veggie packs.
- When you have frozen vegetables in the freezer, make sure you don’t open the freezer door often as this may affect its quality and shelf-life.
- Choose fruits that are ripe and in good condition, no bruises or blemishes.
- Wash them a bit. Additional tip for fruits that oxidize fast like apples, peaches or nectarines. Right after shocking them, dip them in a mixture of water and lemon juice. Then dry, and start packing.
- Make you dry your fruits with a paper towel.
- Follow steps 5 to 9 for freezing vegetables.
Thawing Home-frozen Fruits and Vegetables
There are 3 ways you can thaw frozen home-frozen vegetables safely.
There is usually is a thaw or defrost option to most microwaves. If your microwave oven doesn’t have this, heat the frozen veggies at a low setting.
Thaw in cold water
Place your frozen veggie into a fresh zip lock bag, make sure it’s leak proof. Then, submerge it in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes or if it gets to room temperature.
Thaw in the fridge
This is the longest but easiest way. Simply transfer it from the freezer to your fridge. For small packs, they should thaw overnight. But for big packs, it may take 1 day. This just needs a little pre-planning.
Pickling is the process of preserving produce by anaerobic fermentation in brine or by immersion in vinegar. It’s as simple as its definition, you chop up the vegetables and put them in a vinegar solution with sugar and a pinch of salt. When pickled, vegetables will keep for months. They are perfect as appetizers, side dish, or as a part of your sandwich.
You can pickle any vegetable, but the usual ones are cucumber, carrots, and radish.
Yes, you read it right. Vegetables can be turned into jams too, they be just as perfect for your toast or pork chop! You only need sugar and add some acidity like lemon juice or vinegar to the fruit or vegetable – and just boil and simmer them together. The sugar preserves the fruit and vegetable and retain its natural flavors and nutrients.
- Classic Easy Strawberry Jam by ScatteredThoughtsofaCraftyMom.com
- Tomato and Chili Jam by yummly.co.uk
- Ginger Rhubarb Jam by yummly.co.uk
- Bacon Jam by TheEndlessMeal.com
Ready to Preserve!
Now, you’re all set to preserve fruits and veggies at home! These make great gifts for potlucks, parties, or even for Christmas! Ready, Set, Preserve!
Knowing how to preserve food might come in handy when food supply is low or when you simply just overbought certain vegetables and fruits. It also helps you make the most of your market day instead of going back every now and then for veggies or fruits.