Preserve your produce

Harvesting and preserving your fruit & veg

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Preserve your produce

Postby KG magazine » Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:08 pm

We all want good harvests and sometimes we get more than we bargained for but don't let it go to waste have a go and preserving your excess fruit and veg so you can enjoy it in the lean months of winter. Check out the August issue of Kitchen Garden for more information and review of some great books on preserving your home grown produce.

Drying herbs

Herbs are best harvested in the early morning if possible and preferably on a sunny day. This is the time when their aromatic oils are at their best.

Pick the youngest shoots and tie in bunches. Wash the bunch in running cold water and shake to remove excess water. Spread out the herbs on kitchen paper and gently wrap up and unroll several times to remove most of the water. Hang the herbs upside down in a warm, dry airy room. You can keep the herbs clean by wrapping in a muslin bag.

Alternatively, place the herbs in an oven set at 43C (110F) for about an hour.

When the herbs are sufficiently dry the leaves should be stripped off the stalks and broken up into small pieces and placed in airtight containers such as glass jars. Store in a cool, dark place.

Give us your preserving tips and tricks, and don't forget to tell us what you do with them once you've stored them! :wink:
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Postby Monika » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:11 pm

I find the best method to preserve herbs is to freeze them:

Whole in sprigs if you only want one particular herb - just pick the freshest tips, wash them and dry them by a good shake, then freeze them in small freezer bags. When you want to use them, just crumble the frozen sprig in the bag.

My favourite way, though, is to make a mix of herbs like parsley, thyme, tarragon, sweet marjoram, summer savory, oregano and chervil, chop them well, press them into ice cube trays and top up with a little bit of water, then freeze. When frozen, store the cubes in a freezer bag and use as required. One big batch of freezing usually lasts me until the new herbs are ready in spring.
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Preserving chillies

Postby Colin_M » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:21 pm

Many people try to dry chillies. I guess there's a place for dried chillis in some recipies, but my preference is to freeze them.

No great secrets, other than if you need to wash them, ensure they're dry, then put them in a plastic bag & freeze.

Finally, frozen chillies are actually easier to use in cooking than fresh ones. You can chop them just as easily (straight from the freezer - no defrosting needed) and the risk of getting the chilli juices on your fingers is much reduced compared to using fresh ones.


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Postby Gilly C » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:33 pm

I have just treated myself to a dehydrator have had a play with it with strawberries yummy, and sliced apple and banana very pleased with results, going to dry tomatoes, as I am hoping for a glut now I have a greenhouse, herbs and maybe some flowers for crafts :)
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Tomato purree

Postby Primrose » Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:58 pm

We always purree our surplus tomatoes and the beauty of this method is that you never need to bother with exact quantities.
Fry chopped onions and garlic until soft.
Throw in generous supply of chopped tomatoes and a few basil leaves.
Cook until soft and mixture starts to thicken.
When cooled, whizz in a blender until smooth.
Bag off in appropriate size portions.
Use for pasta sauces, as a base for vegetable soups and to boost up caseroles/stews. Will store in freezer for 3 years. (Well, ours does, without any loss of flavour !)
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Postby Primrose » Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:01 pm

I endorse what Colin says about freezing chillis. The same applies to red and green peppers, if you want to use them for cooking. To save freezer space, cut them into quarters, remove seeds and pith and store in sealed bags. We never bother to blanch ours either.
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Roasted ratatouile

Postby Primrose » Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:09 pm

The flavour of this method vastly exceeds anything cooked from scratch in a frying pan.

Chop red peppers, aubergines, onions and courgettes into inch size chunks and roast in a tray in a hot oven, sprinkled with olive oil for about 30 minutes until looking slightly brown at the edges. (If you have spare space you can do this at the bottom of the oven when the Sunday joint is cooking)

Separately in a frying pan, cook down enough chopped tomatoes to make a soft liquid base. Add the roasted vegetables, seasonings, & stir until mixed. When cooled, bag up and freeze. Excellent as a pasta sauce.
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Re: Roasted ratatouile

Postby Colin_M » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:11 pm

Primrose wrote:Chop red peppers, aubergines, onions and courgettes into inch size chunks and roast in a tray. The flavour of this method vastly exceeds anything cooked from scratch in a frying pan.

Yep, this is a great approach isn't it.

Also, I find that it seems to cook aubergines more reliably than if I try to fry them. The problem with frying is that:
- You seem to need to just do a few at a time, so it's laborious
- If you're not careful, aubergines can absorb vast amounts of oil.

By contrast, the roasting/baking method needs hardly any oil and leaves them ready to absorb your herby/garlicy sauce, once you combine the mixture.


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Postby fish » Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:55 am

i try to be a traditionalist as best i can! all though i do freeze some produce i try where ever posible to use alterative methods,i all ways have in the back of my mind 'what if the leccy goes out?' itd only take one nutter in a sesena light aircraft to take out a power station and were all in the proverbial,the national grid damn near goes into meltdown during the adverts on coronation st when every one puts the kettle on!
so the main method i use is my kilner/parfait jars,i have collected over 150 over the last few years all for pence! folk chuck them out when the seals rot ! seals are cheap enough! in them goes apple,pear,black berrys,cherries,damsons,greengages,mirabelle plums,mincemeats,pickled onions,red cabbage,shallots and beetroots.i salt my french beans down and they keep for well over 18 months!i dry harricots and borlotti beans ready for the stew and soup making months.i also dry my herbs.and i also slice finely and dry citrus peel it keeps well and adds well to cakes and mincemeats.and of course my award winningjams,jellies,marmalades,chutneys,releshes and curds!
i also preserve and process meats,ever tried rabbit biltong? :shock:
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Postby Primrose » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:33 pm

Gosh fish, I'm amazed at your productivity and think you have a very good point about trying to use some of the "old fashioned" preserving methods. I'd do more of this if only we had the space to store them. Can you please explain exactly how you salt down your beans? I'd love to try this method. I remember as a very small child that my parents used to do this into glazed crocks during the war. But I don't recall that the end results were very successful as they turned a horrible brown colour and had to be soaked in water for 24 hours before use. Perhaps they used the wrong kind of salt or something?
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Postby fish » Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:51 pm

it all seems to work into the day well! i think the incentive is feeding the family and tasteing real food!cant beat home cured bacon and eggs for brecky!
as for the beans i use any old glass or plastic container! salt in the bottom,just table salt then layer beans and salt,the level will go down then add more! they dont generally lose too much colour,keep them in a dark cool pantry is best.then before using soak them in water for 12 hours,changing the water once.they will never taste the same as fresh but theyre free!
all though ime only 35 and dont remember the war time i still am very keen to live as they did,make do and mend is still a motto here! i make so many things for the home,i rarely have a quiet minute! :D
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Postby cevenol jardin » Sun Jun 17, 2007 12:51 pm

I am with fish on the non freezing options - i didn't even need a light or large aircraft this year - my other half UNPLUGGED THE FREEZER by accident (but it was still the doghouse) before we went away for a 2 week trip visiting relatives before christmas so i lost the lot.:evil:

I have a great book i'd recommend for anyone wanting to preserve with old methods. Every recipe i've tried has been great.
Keeping Food Fresh, Old World Techniques and Recipes
The gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivant. 1999, USA
Translation Diane Côté, Originally published 1992, by Terre Vivante
Excellent resource of handed down recipes and methods for preserving garden produce, contributed by members of Terre Vivant.
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Postby fish » Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:29 pm

hope he got a good slap! :roll: :lol:
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Postby Tigger » Mon Jun 18, 2007 1:08 pm

We freeze lots of produce (we've got 5 freezers), but we also bottle/jam/pickle/jelly/preserve/dry/etc fruit and veg. I don't find it particularly time consuming - a pan of jam bubbles away happily with little attention.

OH makes the bread once a week and we freeze that. He also does all the cakes and biscuits and puddings.
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Postby Hannabusses » Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:03 pm

at the mom i have a load (20ish) of artichokes that need picking and im keep to preserve them but i dont know how? can anyone offer any advice?
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