Top 9 ways to preserve your fruits & vegetables

Preserving fruits & vegetables

Is your refrigerator bursting at the seams with fresh fruits and vegetables?

Preserving your fruits and veggies is an important step in ensuring that they stay fresh, nutritious, and delicious.

Before they go bad, take a look at some of PostHarvest’s favourite ways to preserve them.

Whether you are preserving them by drying, pickling, fermenting, or canning, there are a number of different methods that you can use to preserve your favourite produce.

Here are our top nine tips for preserving your fruits and veggies:

  1. Dehydrating
  2. Freezing
  3. Pickling
  4. Fermenting
  5. Canning
  6. Air-tight storage
  7. Preserves
  8. Herb Vase
  9. Repackage leafy greens

Dehydrating

Dehydrating food with the use of either a dehydrator or freeze dryer is one of the simplest and most efficient forms of home food preservation.

Dehydrated food extends the shelf life while transforming the flavour and texture.

Dehydrating or freeze-drying fruits and vegetables also makes them lightweight and easy to store, making them a convenient option for on-the-go snacks or meals.

There are a lot of various dehydrators on the market, so do your homework before purchasing one.

Once you have a dehydrator, experiment with different recipes and techniques to find what works best for you.

Freezing

Freezing foods is another common form of food preservation/food storage.

Make sure to freeze fresh produce at peak freshness for use later. For example, peeling and freezing brown, overripe bananas to use at a later time in smoothies.

You can freeze chop onions and spring onions inside an empty water bottle or re-sealable bag. Once they are frozen, simply shake or take out what you need and return the rest to the freezer.

Store your chopped produce in the freezer to keep it fresh longer. You can either freeze your produce raw or blanch it first – this will help prevent browning or discolouration as well as preserving the nutrients in your frozen produce.

Freeze your fresh produce in olive oil or fat to create healthy and delicious frozen food treats. This is a great way to preserve berries, apples, peaches, mangoes – almost any fruit that you enjoy can be preserved this way!

Pickling

Pickling your fresh produce in a mason jar with a vinegar or brine is a great way to transform and preserve fruits and veggies.

Not only does pickled produce in mason jars make for good storage space, but it’s also a great snack that is both tasty and nutritious.

Plus, pickled vegetables make for a great garnish on salads and sandwiches.

Fermenting

Fermented foods are not only a great form of food preservation but also a great dietary option for gut health.

Unlike pickling, fermentation doesn’t require an added acidic liquid or heat and can be accomplished with as little as glass jars and salt as a natural preservative (although more typically goes into it).

It’s one of the oldest and most basic means of preserving food. The process typically takes longer than pickling and ultimately alters the food’s colour, flavour, and texture.

Given the presence of organic acids brought on through the fermentation process, homemade fermented food can then be categorised as pickled and fermented. Fermented foods and drinks include things like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, coconut yoghurt, miso, and tempeh.

Canning

The preservation methods in this list are all great options but canned foods are one of the most effective ways to preserve food long-term.

Water bath canning is probably what you think of first when you want to can produce for later, but it’s not meant for every food.

Because water bath canning processes food at a lower temperature than pressure canning, it should only be used for foods with naturally high acidity, like many fruits (and tomatoes).

Yes, if you’re determined on water bath canning your vegetables, it is doable., you’ll just need to raise their acidity by pickling them in vinegar or adding lemon juice. But to keep your food safe to eat, only use a water bath canner when your recipe specifically calls for it.

Canning your fresh produce using the pressure canning method allows for storing food without refrigeration, making it perfect for out-of-the-way pantries or cupboards.

A pressure canner is a heavy-duty piece of equipment with a vent, a pressure gauge, and screw clamps. It is capable of heating the food in the canning jars to hotter than the temperature of boiling water.

Here’s the basic rule: all low acid a.k.a. alkaline foods must be processed in a pressure canner, not a boiling water bath. What does that mean? It means that any unpickled vegetable, including vegetable soup stocks cannot be safely processed in a boiling water bath.

Airtight storage

Using an airtight container to keep your own food fresh for longer is a simple way to preserve food yet it is highly effective for more than one reason.

Whether you’re wanting to preserve food like berries, tomatoes, mushrooms, or herbs and spices, using an air-tight container will help keep your food fresh while also keeping produce items separate from other ethylene gas releasing produce.

Preserves

Try preserving your fruits and veggies by making preserves like jams, chutneys, sauces and compotes.

The cooking process for these recipes often uses sugar as well as preservatives like pectin or citric acid to extend their timeframe for consumption – just be sure not to eat too much of these preserves as the nutritional value isn’t as great for your health as some of the other methods listed to preserve food.

Herb Vase

Preserving fresh herbs is actually one of the simplest forms of food preservation.

All you need to do is wrap damp paper towels around the bases of your asparagus or herbs, or try storing them upright in a glass with about an inch of water. This will keep them hydrated and slow down wilting.

Soft herbs like parsley, coriander, dill, mint and basil can be stored upright at room temperature in a glass with cool water.

Chop any leftover herbs and store them in an ice cube tray, fill with water and place them in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, just pop as many cubes as you need into your cooking.

Hard herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, sage and chives, will last longer if stored in the fridge – wrap them in dry kitchen paper before putting them into airtight containers or resealable bags.

Repackage leafy greens

You can make bagged salad last longer by transferring the leaves to a bowl or storage container, placing a couple of sheets of kitchen paper on top and tightly wrapping the whole thing with a wax or cling wrap to exclude as much air as possible. This will help it to stay crisp and prevent the leaves from wilting in the fridge.

If you’ve bought whole lettuce, remove the individual leaves and leave them to soak in a bowl of cold water for a couple of hours.

Rinse them, shake off the excess water (or use a salad spinner) then spread the leaves out on a clean muslin or tea towel before rolling it up. Pop the whole thing into a large, airtight food storage box and keep it in the fridge.

You’ll be surprised how long the leaves stay crisp and fresh and you’ll have a supply of pre-washed leaves to hand whenever you want to whip up a green salad.

Summary

Many of us are guilty of throwing away our fresh produce when we’ve bought too much and it begins to over-ripen.

This, however, doesn’t have to be the case. Follow us on PostHarvest for more tips and free courses on how to be eco-friendly, and play your part in reducing food waste. You can also read more articles like this here.

Whether your home food preservation is via drying, pickling, fermenting, canning, or freezing, there are many different methods available to help you keep your favourite produce fresh and delicious all year round.

So what are you waiting for? Start preserving those fruits and veggies today!

Also, if you have more tips, comment below! We would love to hear from you.

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