What do freezing, canning, drying, pickling and storing all have in common?
Of course! These are all ways to preserve winter vegetables.
Many years ago, homes had “root cellars,” a place to store winter squash and root vegetables such as onions, potatoes, and carrots. Nowadays, it may be difficult for the gardener to store their harvest this way. So, what can they do?
Here’s a quick little table to help you:
|Brussels sprouts||(3 min)||X||X||X|
|Cabbage||(90 sec for wedges)||Pickle first||X||X|
|Fennel||(1/2 min)||Pickle first||X|
|Horseradish||X||(shred)||Prepare as sauce||X||X|
|Kohlrabi||(3 min)||Pickle first||X||X|
Freezing: Freezing maintains nutrients, flavor and texture. Most vegetables require blanching (cutting into pieces, a boiling water bath (see times above), followed by immersion into very cold water) prior to putting into freezer bags in the freezer. Maintain a temperature of 0⁰F. Most vegetables will store well for 12 weeks.
Canning: Best method for vegetables with high water content such as fruits and tomatoes. Hot water baths or pressure cookers seal the contents in sterilized jars. Most vegetables are low acid foods and require using a pressure cooker. Use cleaned fresh and tender vegetables. Follow all pressure cooker instructions carefully.
Drying: No special equipment required. Most people use ovens or dehydrators. It’s important to have good air circulation and all vegetables are cleaned and not bruised. Blanching in a hot water bath increases quality and cleanliness. Adding 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each quart of water will reduce darkening.
Pickling: Used around the world to preserve foods, “pickling” also includes relishes and fermentation. Examples include Kim-chi, pickles, sauerkraut and chutneys. Follow all recipes carefully. Most use vinegar to stabilize acidity to prevent bacteria. Some recipes will suggest canning to preserve the product, others will recommend refrigerator or crock storage.
Have specific questions? The National Center for Home Food Preservation has many online publications to assist you.