Many people today are working towards becoming more self sufficient and generally trying to be less wasteful. As the growing season comes to an end, a lot of home gardeners are overwhelmed with the abundance of veggies left in the ground. Every year they wait too long and much of it goes to waste. Freezing your left over greens and canning your beets and carrots is a simple, and fun, way to preserve your veggies and continue benefiting from your garden throughout the winter. It actually doesn’t take a lot of time and can be a rewarding family day – or weekend depending on what’s left in your garden.
Preserving your veggies is a wonderful way to make winter cooking healthier, more convenient and definitely more affordable. You will feel good every time you pull out a bag of your very own frozen kale to go into your pasta or soup. You know exactly where it came from and it’s in a perfect, meal size portion that you can easily throw into the pot or frying pan.
A popular way to freeze your greens is to de-stem, wash, blanch, cool and bag it. All greens (except for Collards and Swiss Chard stems) should be blanched in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes, where as collards and stems need 3 minutes. Then they need to be put directly into cold water to stop the cooking process. After that you simply drain the water and as much excess moisture as possible from the greens before you put them into freezer bags, label them and throw them into the freezer. For an in depth description on how to properly blanch and freeze your greens, click here.
Your veggies such as carrots and beets can be jarred – pickled or fermented are great and easy options. It may seem like a daunting task to take on, but once you get started it doesn’t take more than a couple hours total to do a batch. Fermenting is an old idea that is becoming very popular again. With the growing knowledge of how important probiotics are for our overall health, people are eager to learn more about how to ferment their own veggies.
Lets not forget about the various jams and jellies that can be made from your berries and other fruits. If you’re new to making jam and want to try something very simple, try slow cooker freezer jam. You simply throw the fruit and sugar into your crock pot and turn it on for the day. You can mash it up at the end of the day, put it into jars and then freeze it. It’s also a wonderful way to make your house smell
It’s possible to preserve all the veggies in your garden in one way or another, and all of your hard work will pay off on cold winter days when all you need to do is open a jar for a healthy side dish to go along with your dinner. The jars also make wonderful gifts for Christmas! You can’t go wrong learning how to preserve food and it can make a substantial difference in the overall picture of becoming self sufficient and reducing waste. Feel free to leave comments below on your favorite ways to preserve your garden and make it last all winter long!