Raise your hand if you’re the type of gardener – or if you know the
type of gardener – who does his or her part to grow enough vegetables
to feed the country’s armed forces? If you have ever dropped off “a
dozen tomatoes or so” in a plastic garbage bag to at least three people,
this article is for you. These gardeners are the growing, nurturing
type. They grow because they must, and it’s obvious when the time comes
to collect the harvest. Many people don’t know the options available
to them to help make their harvest last.
Proper storage actually begins with the harvest and knowing what the
right time is to bring in a crop. Some vegetables are not as crucial,
while others have to be picked at just the right time. This is a matter
of knowing your crop. If you don’t know, check the Internet, books,
or a gardening neighbor. Don’t be afraid to ask and make sure that you
Once you bring in boxes, bags, and buckets of vegetables, setting them
on any flat surface available in the house, you need to check your storage
options. One option is the root cellar – or any other cool, dry, and
dark environment. Any lightless room between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit
should work if the humidity is low (but not dry). Simply place your
vegetables on the shelves – not on the floor – and store for the winter.
With any preservation method – including the root cellar – it is important
to get rid of any rot, disease, decay, or even bruising right away.
These things spread to the other vegetables and can easily ruin a great
deal of work
Once you have ensured you only have the freshest of vegetables, it’s
time to look at some more advanced preservation methods.
The first way to preserve your food is to can it. Canning is a process
in which you place your food in a thick jar, heating it high enough
to kill the bacteria that causes food to spoil. You also force the extra
air out of the jar – this forms a vacuum seal when the jar cools, keeping
the bacteria from growing again. Food can keep for years with this method,
letting you enjoy the your labors long after the harvest.
Another way to preserve food is to dehydrate it. Dehydrating, as the
name suggests, is a process to remove the water from food. This is most
often done with beef jerky, but it can be done with fruits and vegetables
as well. You can make cucumber chips for a tasty snack during the winter.
The easiest way to dehydrate food is with … of all things … a dehydrator.
Using low temperatures and air circulation a dehydrator can quickly
and safely remove the moisture from food leaving it fresh for months
No matter what method you choose to preserve your harvest, it is rewarding
to enjoy your home-grown food months and years after your harvested
it. You get to enjoy the fresh taste, the low coast, and the subtle
satisfaction that you did not have to go to the grocery store in that
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