What to do with the bounty from your garden? Freeze it, pickle it, dry it, store it! Here are 10 quick fixes to enjoy healthy, nutritious vegetables and fruit all winter long!
1. Freezing Mint
Preserve your mint harvest by freezing the herb in ice cubes. Spoon 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs into each compartment of an ice cube tray. Add about 1 inch of water to each compartment and put the tray into the freezer. Remove it when herb cubes are frozen. Lift the cubes from the compartments and put into a plastic freezer bag. Label the bag and put it back into the freezer.
Photo Credit: Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock.
Freezing vegetables is one of our favorite ways to keep the harvest. It’s quick, easy, and frozen vegetables taste more like they were picked fresh from the garden that day.
Also, freezing maintains the nutrition of fresh foods. You just need plastic freezer containers or flexible freezer bags.
Use vegetables at peak flavor Whenever possible, harvest in the cool part of the morning and freeze within a few hours. Wash vegetables thoroughly in cold water.
Blanch your vegetables. (Lower into vigorously boiling water for a few minutes, then plunge into very cold water for a few minutes.). Drain and pack tightly into freezer bags, leaving a half an inch of head space. If you prefer that your vegetables don’t freeze in a block, you could freeze on a tray first.
See our complete article on how to freeze spinach or other greens (with pictures).
Get more information on how long you can freeze all types of food.
2. Got Basil? Make Pesto!
If you have a couple healthy basil plants, harvest all the leaves and make pesto! See our delicious recipe for Basil Pesto.
Photo credit: Dmytro Mykhailov/shutterstock
3. Pickle Your Veggies!
Got an abundance of cucumbers? Just make fridge pickles. No canning needed. Enjoy delicious pickles in no time! See how to make refrigerator pickles.
We have many more pickling tips and recipes! For best results when pickling, use white distilled or cider vinegars with 5 percent acidity. Use white vinegar when light color is desirable, as with fruit and cauliflower.
Use pickling salt, not iodized salt. Pickling salt has no additives. Iodized salt makes the brine cloudy and may change the color and texture of the vegetables. It may also leave a sediment at the bottom of the jars.
Photo Credit: vkuslandia/Shutterstock. See our Crunchy Dill Pickles recipe.
“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”
–Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. president (1743–1826)
4. Freeze Your Berries
Spread unwashed berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put the sheet into the freezer. When the berries are frozen, transfer them to a plastic container or freezer bag.
See our post on how to freeze blueberries.
5. Bake Zucchini Bread!
Zucchini isn’t always great when frozen. We love to bake mini loaves of zucchini bread and freeze! Remove a loaf whenever you need it. It’s great for last-minute gift ideas!
See our recipe for zucchini bread and more zucchini recipes.
To just freeze zucchini, wash and grate the squash. Quickly dip grated zucchini in boiling water, then drain and cool. Pack premeasured amounts into freezer bags or plastic containers, leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal, label, and freeze. Use for zucchini bread, soups, and stews in winter.
6. Oven-Dry Tomatoes
Dry your tomatoes and other produce to keep them longer! Dried tomatoes add color and flavor to salads, pizza, soups, pesto, and sauces.
7. Make Jam
With just two ingredients—fruit and sugar—you can make a fridge jam in no time! This recipe does not require canning. See our easy berry jam recipe.
8. Freeze Your Corn
Wouldn’t it be divine if we could have truly sweet, summertime corn at our fingertips the year round? Now you can! See how to freeze corn.
9. Make Herbal Vinegar
Herbal vinegar is inexpensive and easy to make. Make with any herb including basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, garlic, thyme, and sage to add pizzazz to salad dressings, soups, and sauces.They also make great gifts to friends! See how to make herbal vinegar.
10. Learn the Best Way to Store “Keeper” Crops
Little or no special equipment is required to put these goods away until you want them:
Apples: Apples keep well for about 6 months at temperatures above freezing but below 45°F. If you don’t have a root cellar, a double cardboard box in a cool basement can approximate the conditions.
Carrots: After harvesting, remove the green tops and brush off any excess dirt. Put the carrots into a cardboard box and pack dry sand around them. Store the box in a cool basement.
Onions and Garlic: Hang mature, dry-skin onion bulbs in a mesh bag in a cool, dry, airy location. Braided onions and garlic also can be hung.
Photo Credit: JIL Photo/Shutterstock. A garlic braid isn’t a new hairstyle, but rather a great way to store your harvest.
Root Vegetables: If covered with a thick layer of mulch (hay, dried leaves, straw), carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsley, parsnips, radishes, and turnips can be left in the ground well into the winter and harvested into the spring. Learn more about storing potatoes in the root cellar and storing beets.
See our full list for storing fruits, vegetables, and herbs!