Harvesting and Preserving Vegetables

PJ Jonas
gardening

In years past, we have spent many hours canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and freezing our fruits and vegetables.  Lately, the children are eating more and more of the produce straight from the garden, so I find there is less need to preserve.

Strawberries almost always go straight into everyone's mouth.

harvesting strawberries from the gardengarden fresh strawberries strawberries in the garden

If there are extras, they get brought into the house and cut up and put directly into our goat milk yogurt or kefir.  If you have extra strawberries to put up, our favorite methods are to freeze them in ziplocs or make jam.

We grow sugar snap peas, so they get eaten whole straight from the garden.

harvesting the garden

Extras are shelled and frozen in ziplocs for use in homemade chicken pot-pie.

harvesting and preserving the garden

Lettuce is eaten in large quantities in salad.

lettuce from the garden

And the rest is fed to the chickens and rabbits.

rabbits for the garden

Cabbage is shredded for homemade sauerkaut which is a really fun project for the children and a very healthy way to preserve the cabbage.

cabbage in thegarden

gardening homesteading harvesting

harvesting cabbage

The children generally eat all the brocolli straight out of the garden.  They love it!  Any that makes it into the kitchen is steamed and served with dinner.

harvesting broccoli from the garden

Swiss chard is used in our spanakopita casserole recipe.  It is SOOO good!

gardening homesteading

Tomatoes are turned directly into tomato sauce and then frozen for use all winter.

Basil is served fresh in tomato salad or it is made into pesto and frozen in ice cube trays for use all winter.

Peppers are diced and frozen in ziploc bags.  We generally use this all winter for chili or taco soup.

gardening peppers

We also love to use peppers and tomatoes for homemade salsa.

gardening tomatoes

If you're new to putting food up, my best advice is to experiment with canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and freezing - and find what works best for you. Preserving your veggies for use throughout most of the winter is a lot of manual labor, but it isn't difficult.

Before Goat Milk Stuff, I used to preserve it all.  Putting Food By* is the book I started with. Wild Fermentation* and Root Cellaring* are two other books I found helpful.

So start putting up some food, but don't let it become a burden.  For me, I now preserve what I want and feed the rest to the chickens and rabbits.  And I don't let myself feel guilty about it.

PJ Jonas