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There are different methods of food storage and preserving
Below are the methods I use the most but there are many others you might want to try as well.
Finding methods of food storage is important when becoming self sufficient. Store, freeze and preserve different foods when there is excess of it. That’s what fills the gap in the low harvest periods.
Use methods of storage and preservation of food that works for you. Make the most out of your crop when it produces well. Don’t let it go to waste.
Even the most experienced gardener has periods when their fresh vegetables are not producing that well. To have food in the freezer, long time storage and preserved food available is essential for those periods when being self sufficient
Below are my methods of food preservation at home
When done right frozen steamed vegetables keeps well and are very similar quality to the fresh product when reheated
I freeze as much as possible. Its easy to do and its very handy to have frozen free flow vegetables in convenient sized bags. Simply pull a bag of steamed home grown vegetables out when you are low on fresh vegetables in the garden and all you need to do is reheat them in hot water
Broccoli, beans, cauliflower, snow peas, peas and zucchini all freeze very well. Even cherry tomatoes freeze well. Frozen cherry tomatoes are great for sauces and stews
Cherry tomatoes and zucchini I freeze raw and put them in freezer bags.
With the other vegetables I mentioned I quickly blanch first before freezing and put them in portion sized bags. These are very handy to have in winter and reheat very well.
How I freeze my vegetables
First of all you want to freeze them as fresh as possible.
Don’t wait until the vegetables has been sitting in the fridge for too long and starting to go limp or leave them in the garden too long until they start to go to seed before picking and preparing for the freezer.
Instead you want to pick the vegetable in it’s prime and prepare for the freezer straight away. That way you have the best possible result and very close to the fresh product.
Prepare the vegetable how you normally would. Cut them or trim them the way you like it.
For the steamed veg
Just quickly steam or blanch in boiling water. Under cook them slightly then you refresh them in ice water. Make sure they are really cold then drain them in a colander until the are very dry. You don’t want excess water on the vegetable so make sure they have drained off properly.
Spread the vegetables out on large trays. Just a single layer then put them in the freezer. You want them to freeze quickly (snap freeze). If your freezer has a quick freeze button on it then press that and have it on until the veges are frozen properly. Leave them for a few hours or overnight until they are frozen all the way through
Now you can just put them in convenient sized bags.
I mainly do zucchini and cherry tomatoes frozen raw.
Cherry tomatoes I just discard any green bits. Wash them and dry them properly, then spread them out a single layer on a tray in the freezer. Quick freeze if you got it. Once frozen just put them in bags,
I use mine mainly for pasta sauce, stew or other sauces. You can hardly tell the difference between using fresh or frozen cherry tomatoes once the sauce is ready
Zucchini just take the stalk off and cut the way you would like and spread a single layer out on a tray then freeze. I normally slice, cube and grate (The grated zucchini I use in baking, fritters or chutney)
Eggs can also be frozen
Simply just crack the eggs and put 3-4 in a small zip lock bag then freeze.
In winter the hens lay a lot less and it can be handy to have frozen eggs to pull out. They are fine for baking or making scrambled eggs.
It’s best to defrost the eggs slowly. Overnight in the fridge is best.
Picking fruits like apples and pears and preserve them
I freeze them or make sauce, chutneys and jellies out of them.
Apples and pears can be frozen very easily and then used in baking for the rest of the year.
They can be peeled, cored and cut then frozen raw in freezer bags.
I make a lot of apple sauce and freeze it. It’s a great way to preserve apples. When frozen in convenient sized bags it’s easy to defrost a bag at time when I need it.
The apple sauce is a great accompaniment for roast pork and I use it in baking too. The addition of apple sauce adds flavor and moisture to many baked goods.
We eat apple sauce for breakfast or afternoon snack too when we have it. Just the apple sauce slightly warm in a bowl with milk or as a topping on yogurt or porridge.
There is a lot of wild apple trees around where we are. Sometimes we just stop on the side of the road and pick from them.
I don’t have any fruit trees myself but a few of my friends do and they are happy for us to come and pick some.
Dill also freezes well.
Other herbs like parsley, basil or rocket I make into pesto or other paste’s. That way I can keep them in a jar for months and use a spoon when needed.
If you have the space to plant big crops of things that can be stored for a long time. That is the best step towards becoming self sufficient.
Find long term food storage methods that works for you and your situation so you can enjoy your homegrown foods all year around
Store, mince and freeze garlic
The garlic should be harvested when the soil it grows in is really dry to prevent the garlic from going moldy when storing.
After the garlic has been dug up, we leave it to dry in crates for a few days to a week somewhere shady with airflow so the dirt on the outside is really dry and crumbles or falls off easily.
Then I brush the outside clean with a nail brush and cut the long, thin string like roots off so they are really short. I hang them in bunches upside down from the green stalks for a couple of weeks until the green stalks are totally dried.
Now I can cut the stalks off to really short stumps or I can plat it then hang and store the garlic in a cool, dark, breezy spot and use as needed. Garlic keeps really well for about 6 months like this.
The remaining garlic I turn into puree and freeze it.
Basically, I just peel and chop it fine in the food processor with enough olive oil to cover it all. Put it in zip lock bags and freeze it in small to medium size batches. That way I can just defrost a bag at the time and use a spoonful in the cooking when needed.
I use a food processor to crush my garlic quick and easy.
I also mix some of the pureed garlic with soft butter and chopped parsley. Roll it in cling film like a log then freeze the butter log. Then I have garlic butter available when I need it too.
Garlic butter can easily be used in cooking or melt some on your meat or seafood instead of a sauce
Long time storing of root vegetables
I dig up my root vegetables before the ground gets too wet. They don’t store as well if they are in wet ground when dug up.
I place the root vegetables in crates with newspaper on top and bottom. Don’t wash them or remove the dirt, then keep them in a dark cool place with plenty of air circulation. They keep well (a few months) especially the potatoes.
Read about how to grow stunning potatoes effortlessly at home here
Food crates like these are good for longtime storage of vegetables. They stack on top of each other and allow for great airflow
If I notice they start to go soft and won’t keep well for much longer then I make batches of soup and freeze it.
Carrots can be blanched and frozen or made into hummus or chutney. I pickle beetroot if I have any.
I try not to let anything go to waste. Using different methods of food storage and preserving depending on what food it is.
I spend more time in the garden and the kitchen and less time in the supermarket. Just the way I like it!
My tomatoes will stop ripening in Autumn. There is usually a few green tomatoes left on the plant that wont ripen.
I pick all the green tomatoes before the frost gets to them and make jam and chutney, which is an excellent accompaniment for cheese and roast meat.
You can find a green tomato chutney recipe here
I also make green salsa. A great table sauce for a BBQ or as a salsa for Mexican dishes.
Sometimes I just crumb the green tomatoes and fry them in butter and serve as a side vegetable with meat.
Home made Tomato chutney
Wild mushrooms can be found growing in the paddocks, garden, parks or forest depending on the variety.
Birch bolete mushrooms mainly grow in the garden and parks. They dry and store really well.
I prefer to slice them thin, dry them by spreading the mushroom slices out on a news paper and leave somewhere warm and dry until they are ready. They need to be totally dry otherwise they don’t store well.
The time for this varies a depending on how thin the slices are, temperature etc. It can be anything from overnight to a couple of days. I then store them in zip lock bags in the cupboard.
They store really well for at least one year if I dry them properly. Once dried they are easily added to soups, stews and sauces.
I prefer the flavor and texture of the birch bolete when dried first. The flavor tends to intensify and the texture are firmer.
Drying mushrooms is easy in a food dehydrator.
The food dehydrator is also great for fruit, vegetables and meat.
If you have chantarelles, morelles or black trumpets in your area. They can be dried easily too. Just spread them out on news paper and leave somewhere warm and dry until totally dried. Mix them around every now and then so they dry evenly.
The black trumpets and the brown chantarelles dry rather quickly because they are quite thin. Yellow chantarelles takes a bit longer because they are meatier.
I just hydrate the dried mushrooms again in hot water before I’m about to use them. Then add them to soup, sauces, tarts or stews. (The soaking liquid is full of lovely flavor so be sure to use it in your sauce or stew as well). You can also fry the mushrooms in a frying pan after they have been hydrated
These are the main methods of food storage and preserving that I do at home with my home grown and gathered food. There are many more things you can do. Pickling and fermenting are some examples. Find the best food storage and preserving techniques that works for you and start making your homegrown food last longer.
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