Author Topic: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)  (Read 24967 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« on: September 06, 2015, 04:21:38 PM »
This thread is currently a work in progress. I'm updating it and organizing it as I have time. In the meantime, hopefully the information presented is helpful to all Mustachians of the homesteading/radical homemaker stripes.

Introduction

In 2014 there was this thread about preserving the harvest. While this thread isn't technically throwing down a gauntlet, both its predecessor and the well-frequented gardening thread are in this subforum, so I'm putting it here for now. Mods, feel free to move it if you see fit.

What I hope to accomplish is presenting a guide to the best way to preserve the local bounty of fruits and vegetables, organized by type. I'm a big believer in trying to live within my own bio-region as much as possible. Even if you rely heavily on things imported from outside of your region, nearly every fruit/veg has a "peak" season where price is lowest and quality is highest. Learning to preserve and store food at its prime is an excellent hobby. It won't necessarily save a ton of money, but the quality of food heading into the lean winter months will blow your mind. For me, this is something I tally up on my emotional balance sheet more than my financial one.

Okay, let's get into this (again, sorry for slow updates) Post #0 will be Best Methods for Fruit

Apples

You have two main options here. First is to dry slices and make chips. If you don't have a dehydrator, I highly recommend the large Excalibur models. They're pricey but well worth it if you plan to preserve many things. Remove any bruises/blemishes, core, then slice 1/4" with a chef's knife. (Mandolines don't work very well because of the skin.) An apple corer can also cut ring slices quite effectively.

The second choice is canning applesauce. I'll get into the details further as I update.

Apricots

No personal experience preserving these but store-bought dried apricots are awesome, so I'd start there. Unless you're incredibly patient, after removing the pit they need to be sliced thinner.

Bananas

Not in my bio-region so I don't buy them, but if they were I'd dry them (1/4" slice).

Frozen bananas (hello Arrested Development) are an excellent treat.

Blackberries (and other large-seeded berries like muberry and raspberry)

Freeze in single layers on baking sheets to avoid clumping, then pack into bags for storage.

Blackberry jam can be canned. You can use a food mill to remove the seeds.

Blueberries

Freezing is your best option to preserve a fresh-like taste.

Canning can work.

Dried blueberries sound like a good idea but I find them very disappointing taste-wise.

Cherries

The main bottleneck here is pitting. I'm lucky enough to have a local orchard that allows you to run them through a high-speed mechanical pitter for a nominal fee. Once pitted:

Freezing works well. To prevent clumping, lay out on baking sheets in a single layer, place in freezer for at least an hour before packing into freezer bags.

Drying is also a good method. Unless you want them to take forever in the dehydrator, you will have to halve the pitted cherries.

I'll let others chime in about good canning recipes.

Citrus

Your main option is to preserve the peel for future flavoring. You can dry the peel plain, candy it, or preserve it in salt. Recipes abound.

Our own Erica has this handy guide. It's specific to lemon (ideally Meyer lemon) peel but many of the same principles apply: http://www.nwedible.com/ways-to-use-lemon-peel/

Currants

Canning them in preserves and jellies is well-known.

Personally, I'd dry them, at least based on the taste of both options I've had from the store.

Dates

No personal experience. I'm guessing drying is the best option.

Figs

Figs: drying is good, but it depends on the variety. Some have a thicker outer skin before the juicy seed cavity and these don't dry as well as the varieties with a thinner skin, in my experience. Up here, Desert King is a common variety, and these don't dry as nicely as something like Black Mission.

All figs make superior jam (but are borderline acid, so add some lemon juice), chutney, and sauce. Their flavor is particularly well paired with balsamic vinegar, cherries, thyme, or black pepper.

Grapes

If you grow your own, or live in a growing region, you could experiment with making your own raisins or grape jellies. I have no personal experience. The only vineyards here are exclusively for wine production.

Kiwi

No personal experience.

Melons

They can be dried or frozen, but honestly? I wouldn't bother. Enjoy them as the late summer, early fall local delicacy they are.

Nectarines

I haven't tried preserving these. From eating preserved products, drying, freezing, and canning are all equally good options. The first two will preserve more nutritional value.

Papaya

Not in my bio-region. Supposed to be good for drying.

Peaches

I haven't tried preserving these. From eating preserved products, drying, freezing, and canning are all equally good options. The first two will preserve more nutritional value.

Pears

I haven't tried preserving these. From eating preserved products, drying, freezing, and canning are all equally good options. The first two will preserve more nutritional value.

Persimmons

No personal experience. From what I've read, the challenge is getting ones that are dead ripe. Persimmons have a way of going from bitterly astringent to candy-sweet overnight.

Pineapple

Not in my bio-region but if they were, I'd dry them.

Plums

Drying works.

Cooking down into a plum or sauce is a VERY versatile condiment all on its own, or as a base for many sweet-savory Asian or BBQ type sauces and glazes.

Rhubarb

Culinarily, this is typically classified as a fruit. Typically I've chopped rhubarb and frozen it.

If I had enough of a harvest that freezer space looked a premium, I'd dry the slices. Rhubarb is excellent in jams/jellies/preserves but I find the taste is best when the sauce is fresh, not after it's been canned. YMMV.

Strawberries

Dried strawberries are worth the price of a large dehydrator alone.

For a basic strawberry jam, I really like the one printed in the book "Canning for a New Generation". With really prime, local fruit I have found very little sugar is necessary.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2015, 06:42:40 PM by Thegoblinchief »
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Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 04:22:07 PM »
This reply will the the home for vegetables

Asparagus

Beans (Shelled/Dry)

You want these to be completely dry before trying to shell and store. Depending on the variety and your climate, they may dry down on the vines, or you may need to pull the plants and hang them up in an out of the way spot (garage or basement) to dry further. Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener has excellent info on varieties and how to winnow large quantities.

Beans (Green)

I do not have personal experience with canning beans.

I like green beans both dried and frozen. Both methods require blanching in a boiling water bath for about 2-3 minutes first.

Another method many like is pickling them, either as a lacto-fermented pickle or as a brined pickle (e.g. "Dilly Beans").

Broccoli

After some discussion below, you can blanch and freeze broccoli but thawed broccoli just isn't the same as fresh. It's watery and kind of blah. Eat what you can fresh, find more during the winter at winter farmer's markets, and "preserve" it via cooked uses (cream of broccoli soup, casseroles, etc.).

Carrots

Store fresh in either fridge or a root cellar.

Dehydration is another option with good eating results.

Peas (Snap or Shelled)

Freezing, after blanching for 2 minutes, is the best method for both kinds of pea. Freezing retains the sweetness of a freshly picked pea far better than drying or canning.

If you only want to extend the season a few weeks, I've seen recipes for refrigerator-pickled snap peas that look good but haven't been able to try yet.

Peppers (Hot)

Dry them whole or halved. The choice whether to de-seed them is up to you. Some recipes and uses call for the peppers to be seedless, others whole.

Peppers (Sweet/Mild)

You can remove seeds, slice/dice and either freeze or dry.

For deeper, more complex flavor, consider charring on the grill or roasting in the oven before freezing/drying. Be warned: the peppers will be quite messy/sticky to work with.

Potatoes

Ideally you will have a space that functions as a cool, moist enough root cellar to preserve these fresh. Failing that, you can dry potatoes either raw (must be cooked before eating) or cooked (hash browns are supposed to taste exactly like potato chips when dehydrated).

Tomatoes

These preserve very well any way you do it - canned, dried, or frozen and cooked into sauce/dishes later.

Zucchini

Dried 'chips' are a very tasty snack eaten out of hand. They can also be rehydrated in winter soups and stews.

I also like shredding zucchini and measuring the correct portion for batches of zucchini bread into freezer bags.

Winter Squash/Pumpkins

The main option here is to roast in the oven, scoop out the flesh, and puree it. The puree can be frozen or dried as leather. In the US, at least, it is not considered safe to can using home equipment.

Another option is to dry the raw flesh in slices or diced up. This allows you the option to cook into a puree OR use the squash in dishes that need the flesh whole, not pureed. I haven't (yet) experimented with this but hope to soon.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 04:07:50 PM by Thegoblinchief »
Presenter at Camp Mustache Canada 2017

Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2015, 07:17:06 PM »
Following!

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2015, 05:39:49 AM »
The list of different fruits should be mostly complete now.

Please, anyone, feel free to start posting experiences/recipes/tips. This will help me get the guide updated faster!
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Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2015, 06:54:29 AM »
Well, we are in the thick of this up here!  V. timely!

I have been preserving my produce (or food from the farmers market) for 25 years now, but every year I learn something different to do.  Of course the dewpoint is in the upper 60's this week, so not the best week to have simmering pots.

This year, the bumper crop of 2 kinds of plums demands various treatments; I am drying some, making preserves and canning/freezing whole fruit.  I never use as much sugar as most recipes call for.

Hedgerow jelly.  The idea for this came from my current fave preserving book from the River Cafe in London.  I used my wild apples, beach plums, elderberries, blackberries,rosehips and black cherries-- all from my yard. 

Will follow, GC, thanks for doing this!

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2015, 06:56:54 AM »
Im following.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2015, 08:09:36 AM »
Of course the dewpoint is in the upper 60's this week, so not the best week to have simmering pots.

Yeah, we had a very hot/humid week that's just broken and cooled off. I was running the A/C while canning applesauce last week and still miserable.

Quote
Hedgerow jelly.  The idea for this came from my current fave preserving book from the River Cafe in London.  I used my wild apples, beach plums, elderberries, blackberries,rosehips and black cherries-- all from my yard. 

Interesting idea. I'm not a fan of jelly myself, only jams/preserves, but the flavor combo sounds wonderful. Apple cores are a natural pectin source. I've seen a number of recipes that use them as an additive in the preserving kettle. Another option I've heard of but haven't tried yet is Pomona's Universal Pectin. It's a citrus-derived pectin that sets w/out any sugar (it's activated by calcium that's included in the packet).
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Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2015, 11:20:48 AM »
Figs: drying is good, but it depends on the variety. Some have a thicker outer skin before the juicy seed cavity and these don't dry as well as the varieties with a thinner skin, in my experience. Up here, Desert King is a common variety, and these don't dry as nicely as something like Black Mission.

All figs make superior jam (but are borderline acid, so add some lemon juice), chutney, and sauce. Their flavor is particularly well paired with balsamic vinegar, cherries, thyme, or black pepper.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2015, 01:47:52 PM »
This thread could be gold for a potential homesteader-in-training like myself. Following.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2015, 06:06:42 PM »
I like this thread!

We have really upped our canning (water bath only at this time) over the past few years. Peaches and pears we can quite often on their own (maybe some sugar/honey). Freezer room is at a premium, so that's why we can them. Applesauce and apple butter. Lots of pickling along with some salsa, chutneys, relish. We also ferment sauerkraut.

Pumpkins and winter squash keep so well in the basement or root cellar (except for delicata squash in my experience). I do freeze batches of pumpkin puree and we also can a batch of pickled pumpkins each year. They have been a big hit as an addition to Thanksgiving dinner.


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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2015, 06:08:32 PM »
I have used the pomono pectin, but I don't really care for the results-- gummy to me.  I don;t use much jelly either, but you can melt it and use for glazing, add spicy stuff and make a dipping sauce etc.  Looks beautiful in the jars!

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2015, 06:41:39 PM »
We have really upped our canning (water bath only at this time) over the past few years. Peaches and pears we can quite often on their own (maybe some sugar/honey). Freezer room is at a premium, so that's why we can them. Applesauce and apple butter. Lots of pickling along with some salsa, chutneys, relish. We also ferment sauerkraut.

Nice! Peaches aren't available locally (just a touch too cold for commercial production) and I've yet to find a way to get decently ripe fruit via the supermarket. Seems so hit-and-miss. Plus, I'd dread buying pounds and pounds only to discover they were clingstone *shudder* but that info is never available.

I like pears, but not nearly as much as apples. But perhaps I'll buy a few the next time I'm at the apple orchard. They grow a small amount and they're struggling this year because hail damage forced them to cut prices.

Quote
Pumpkins and winter squash keep so well in the basement or root cellar (except for delicata squash in my experience). I do freeze batches of pumpkin puree and we also can a batch of pickled pumpkins each year. They have been a big hit as an addition to Thanksgiving dinner.

Storage depends on variety and also species. Delicata are definitely the shortest-lived in storage, but all C pepo varities will decline in flavor after a month, even if they aren't developing soft spots. C maxima varieties, on the other hand, are the ones you want to be just breaking into in December and onwards.

Pickled pumpkins sounds...interesting. I'm accepting that I'm just not a pickle person, despite wanting to like them. Glad your guests liked them!

I have used the pomono pectin, but I don't really care for the results-- gummy to me.

Good to note. I've not actually tried it myself.
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Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2015, 07:13:10 PM »
Following! I will contribute once I read through what is posted already.

I canned a ridiculous amount of B&B pickles and Butternut Squash from our garden haul the last few weeks. Planning to do a long weekend of chicken stock and vegetable soup making & canning in the next few weeks. Then canning the pumpkins once they aren't decorations anymore. Yay for cooler weather!
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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2015, 09:11:59 PM »
Persimmons: there are two main types, astringent and non-astringent.

Astringent types, like hachiya, tend to be elongated, like an egg, and must be dead-ripe to be edible. They will ripen off the tree, going from firm to quite squishy. At this point, astringent persimmons are and very sweet. They are excellent made into a puree that can be added to quick breads or made into a persimmon pudding. I've never heard of astringent persimmons being preserved via canning. The pulp freezes well, and theoretically should dry well as a leather, though I've never personally done this. I would not attempt to can the pulp from non-astringent persimmons. In addition to issues with acidulation, I believe this pulp would be too dense to can safely.

Non-astringent types, like Fuyu, are wide and squat like a satsuma orange. These varieties are sweet and edible while still firm and crisp like an apple. They are excellent fresh in winter salads, and pair well with cured meats and strong cheeses. Non-astringent persimmons can be preserved in all the same ways as apples or pears, though they are borderline acid as I recall, so care should be taken if canning. I make a persimmon and apple chutney from non-astringent persimmons that is very good. I've also dried them; the Fuyu types dry like candy.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2015, 09:21:55 PM »
Pears:
Certain varieties store for several months in the fresh state if kept cold or cool.

Pear Varieties - Days storage life at:
30–32°F / 40–42°F
Bartlett 30–45 / 15–20
Bosc 50–70 / 30–40
D’Anjou 120–140 / 70–80
Comice 79–90 / 45–55
Winter Nellis 160–180 / 90–100

If cool/cold storage is not an option, pears are well suited to most preservation methods.

I prefer to dry pears. Peel, core, and halve, quarter or slice depending on size. Drop pear pieces into acidulated water. Dry until pieces are leathery. Condition and store at room temperature, or freeze as desired.

Pears can also be canned. All of the "cookie spices" - cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc. - pair very well with pears. Infuse these spices into a light or medium syrup before canning if desired.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2015, 05:09:25 AM »


Pears can also be canned. All of the "cookie spices" - cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc. - pair very well with pears. Infuse these spices into a light or medium syrup before canning if desired.

I love canning some pears with a touch of cinnamon and vanilla bean. They are good on their own, but really good on top of oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles all winter.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2015, 06:01:27 AM »
I prefer to dry pears. Peel, core, and halve, quarter or slice depending on size. Drop pear pieces into acidulated water. Dry until pieces are leathery. Condition and store at room temperature

Is peeling necessary? I leave the peel on when drying apples.

I'm assuming the water step is to avoid browning? Again, I haven't found that necessary with apples, but if it's more necessary with pears, I'd do it.
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2015, 06:17:27 AM »
Oh, I NEED one of these dehydrator thingys!  A friend is going to let me borrow one to try this week.  I dry herbs in bunches on my wooden clothes dryer when the dewpoint falls, but I have probably over 100# of plums this year I could dry.  Freezing some, canning some.

I will wait til October to do the applesauce as there is still so much tomato/other fruit to do.  My favorite apple for this is Empire which gives an amazingly juicy sauce.  I leave the skins on(lovely pink sauce) cut in 5-6 pieces and put in my heavy 7 qt pot with the bottom covered with water or cider, cook them down and when cool I put them through a stainless colander, rubbing them through.  I prefer this to my food mill.  Then can in water bath in pints.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2015, 06:38:12 AM »
I swear I have NO affiliation with Excalibur but the 9 tray model (no timer) has unequivocally been my best purchase this year. Heck, maybe even best purchase of the past few years.
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Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2015, 06:49:27 AM »
Thanks, GC, ridiculous that I don't have one of this so will get on it!

I think it's important to consider how you would like to eat and cook in the winter; do you want to have more ingredients or more finished dishes?  Canned tomatoes are great for me as they go in so many dishes; I also like to have some frozen tomato-corn-white bean-herb sauce that can be thawed, cooked and eaten with a grain/pasta or diluted with stock into soup in a very short time.  A friend who is a beginning gardener was so excited to have slews of cukes, she canned 54 jars of pickles.  She and her DH needed, maybe, 12!

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2015, 07:40:20 AM »
I prefer to dry pears. Peel, core, and halve, quarter or slice depending on size. Drop pear pieces into acidulated water. Dry until pieces are leathery. Condition and store at room temperature

Is peeling necessary? I leave the peel on when drying apples.

I'm assuming the water step is to avoid browning? Again, I haven't found that necessary with apples, but if it's more necessary with pears, I'd do it.

Necessary? No. Recommended? Yes. The peel is quite tough when dry. Pears brown quite quickly - more quickly than apples, I'd say, and I typically am working with enough quantity that it's worth it to add in the acidulation step. I actually peel, then drop the whole peeled pear into acidulated water. Then I quarter and core the quarters, dropping the quarters back into the acidulated water as I go. It's more complicated to write it than to do it.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2015, 07:45:59 AM »
Roughly how much acid per volume of water? It'd be either vinegar or lemon juice (what I have) or I could get something.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2015, 08:01:58 AM »
This thread has got my mind spinning with possibilities. It was a struggle for us to use everything in our garden this year - sadly, some things withered on the vine/bush/tree. And this was just a first year garden - I know that it will only get bigger and more productive as time goes on. It really hits home that we need our cabin built ASAP so I can set up a "preserving station".

One thing I'd really like to know...what is the "mess factor" involved in all this?

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2015, 08:29:12 AM »
The "mess factor"--hahahahhaaha.  Come on over and we'll show you mess.  No actually, I try to clean up each night so only what I will need is out in the morning.  There are jar rings everywhere, though, and freezer bags  have already labelled waiting for the food, the big stock pot I can in lives on the stove for the duration ( I have 6 burners).  Fun, though, and I always think how happy we'll be when it's -10F and, magically, food!

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2015, 08:43:44 AM »
One thing I'd really like to know...what is the "mess factor" involved in all this?

Mess isn't a huge factor. It's efficient use of space. With canning, you need space on the stove for a big-ass pot PLUS whatever pot(s) you're cooking with. You also need space on a flat surface to put the finished jars to rest for ~24 hours to ensure the seal is good.

For other methods (drying, freezing) you don't need that space, but all 3 methods need a decent section of counter-top for the prep. I also make sure to grab a big bowl or the washtub i use for camping dishes because the ordinary small compost bucket fills up way too fast when prepping lots of produce at once.

An article I found very useful in arranging the kitchen workflow is this one:

http://www.nwedible.com/time-and-motion-study-of-strawberries/

I spent a minute or two making sure the entire work area makes sense for what I'm currently prepping before actually starting work.
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2015, 08:59:06 AM »
Roughly how much acid per volume of water? It'd be either vinegar or lemon juice (what I have) or I could get something.

Not vinegar. Never with fruit. I just sprinkle some citric acid in a bowl. Maybe a generous teaspoon in a big bowl? No need to overthink it. Bottled lemon? Maybe a tablespoon in a big bowl?

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2015, 06:01:54 AM »
Favorite way to preserve broccoli? Store frozen broccoli is kind of meh to me but is home frozen better? Anyone tried dehydrating yet?
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2015, 06:16:55 AM »
I have blanched and frozen broc and, yes, it was pretty good; we don't grow enough to preserve now as we prefer kale and collards, but you have little kids so you need those little "trees".  B sprouts are our all time fave fall veg and the plants will still be OK well into the fall/early winter; homegrown, this veg is so far superior to store bought, I have converted many sprout haters.  You should try drying some so you can tell us about it!

Retired63-- you can root around for some sweet potatoes, but you will be disappointed as many will be little skinny long roots.  Here, they really beef up at the last moment this month.

Canned 10 pints of plums this weekend; I used a very light syrup--10cups of water to 1 cup of sugar with some lemon juice--and the raw pack method.  Gorgeous in the jars!


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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2015, 06:35:46 AM »
Favorite way to preserve broccoli? Store frozen broccoli is kind of meh to me but is home frozen better? Anyone tried dehydrating yet?

Re: home frozen broccoli - it's not better in the kind of way that will change your mind about frozen broccoli, probably. I've done it, but the broccoli still has that watery, not-fresh texture going on. Since it's a veg the whole family really likes we can take down a lot fresh, so don't usually have to preserve. When I've had a serious glut, I've made stuff like cream of broccoli soup base or chicken and broccoli casserole and frozen that that. Not an item I would ever BUY with the intent to preserve, unlike apples or tomatoes.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2015, 06:48:13 AM »
I think it's important to consider how you would like to eat and cook in the winter; do you want to have more ingredients or more finished dishes? 
Excellent point and cannot be repeated often enough.

A friend who is a beginning gardener was so excited to have slews of cukes, she canned 54 jars of pickles.  She and her DH needed, maybe, 12!
Hahaha. Been there, done that. Love the idea of pickles way more than I actually like eating them. Got carried away with chutney the first year and made four or five batches (of 20+ jars each). Still eating that five years later.

I've taken this summer off from preserving (no garden so have to buy in everything anyway) and it has been worthwhile. I'll hopefully use up everything I still have over this winter and start fresh next year. Although I am going to dehydrate apples over the next couple of months. Really hate those couple of months when apples aren't really nice anymore but soft summer fruits haven't arrived yet.

In the list of veg one method for beans that isn't mentioned is drying them on the vine and storing the dried beans. Or maybe that's what you meant by dehydrating but to me it's a slightly different method. Someone who actually knows what they're doing can offer more information on whether you leave them on the vine to dry or hang the plants to dry - I'm never sure which it is.
Edited to add: okay, went back and see you specified green beans. Drying on the vine would be for other types of beans, like pinto and so on. Could perhaps be added to the list.

One other method of preserving I've read about is for random smaller amounts of greens, in particular kale. Dry them in a dehydrator and put the dried stuff through a blender to end up with a green powder. A spoonful can be sprinkled in soups and stews (or smoothies, if that's your thing) for a vitamin boost.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 06:52:02 AM by Moonwaves »

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2015, 07:27:42 AM »
Surprised that tomatoes are not in the list.
I dry them (in a low oven on parchment); make tomato jam, as well as rosst in the oven to make tomato sauce (freeze)

Apples - I cook for crisp or pie filling, then freeze; also apple chips dried in low oven. Don't really have to worry about storage - way to easy to eat all the chips from many apples as soon as they are ready!

I don't can as I don't have the room to store equipment or results, nor do I have the inclination to juggle boiling hot glass jars.

I may make some pepper jelly, or I will pickle them.  In the past we have let some small red hot peppers dry on the plant and stored them.

Cucumbers - refrigerator pickles. Wish there were more options this year. DH says he saw a recipe for cucumber chips - dry and season to eat like potato chips. Anyone else do this??

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2015, 10:45:20 AM »
A good way to make use of excess basil is to make pesto.  As soon as my basil grows enough I cut it down and make a batch.  Then you can freeze it into ice cube trays for easy use all through the winter.

Also, for too much fruit, making vinegar is something fun to do (I love watching it grow in the dark :)) and it tastes delicious.  I've really gotten interested in fermentation and my next project is to venture into hard cider.  Especially since I'm going apple picking today as a volunteer and we'll be "paid" in apples.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2015, 12:29:20 PM »
Surprised that tomatoes are not in the list.

Oversight on my part. Added it - to be honest, I don't think there's a bad way to preserve tomatoes. If anyone has specific recipes they really love, I'll add them as links (either to a forum post in the thread or to an outside site) in that section.

Quote
Cucumbers - refrigerator pickles. Wish there were more options this year. DH says he saw a recipe for cucumber chips - dry and season to eat like potato chips. Anyone else do this??

We had a poor year for cucumbers here, so I haven't tried drying any but it's definitely a thing listed in my dehydrator cookbooks. Haven't seen the chip recommendation, but definitely used as a garnish on winter salads. If you want something that's even closer to a potato chip, try zucchini chips.

Not a preserving use, but last year we found a great way to use up our excess cucumbers was using them instead of lettuce on top of tacos/burritos/etc.

One other method of preserving I've read about is for random smaller amounts of greens, in particular kale. Dry them in a dehydrator and put the dried stuff through a blender to end up with a green powder. A spoonful can be sprinkled in soups and stews (or smoothies, if that's your thing) for a vitamin boost.

I've done this. Eh, it's okay.
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2015, 01:35:13 PM »
What a great thread! Following.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2015, 01:35:34 PM »
Astringent types, like hachiya, tend to be elongated, like an egg, and must be dead-ripe to be edible. They will ripen off the tree, going from firm to quite squishy. At this point, astringent persimmons are and very sweet. They are excellent made into a puree that can be added to quick breads or made into a persimmon pudding. I've never heard of astringent persimmons being preserved via canning. The pulp freezes well, and theoretically should dry well as a leather, though I've never personally done this. I would not attempt to can the pulp from non-astringent persimmons. In addition to issues with acidulation, I believe this pulp would be too dense to can safely.

In our experience the astringent persimmons can also dehydrated by slicing while somewhat firm but not yet squishy (it is probably best to take the skin off). If you were to bite the fruit at this point it might be bitter, but the bitterness seems to go away during the dehydrating.  This seems consistent with the Japanese method of making Hoshigaki (Dried Persimmons), a labor intensive delicacy: http://www.rootsimple.com/2012/11/how-to-make-hoshigaki-dried-persimmons/

We tried drying some pureed pulp into leather but had mixed results. It might have been our technique as it was our first year with a persimmon tree and with access to a dehydrator. Assuming we have fruit again this year, will try a couple more methods and report back.
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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2015, 02:09:19 PM »
We tried drying some pureed pulp into leather but had mixed results. It might have been our technique as it was our first year with a persimmon tree and with access to a dehydrator. Assuming we have fruit again this year, will try a couple more methods and report back.
Interesting, thanks.

I wonder if it would work better as a mix with apple? I had not-great results drying prune plum puree at 100%, but when I mixed it about half and half with apple puree, that vastly improved the final texture without really diminishing the "plum-ness" of the leather's taste. Commercial leathers are often an apple base with a more expensive flavoring fruit like berry added, so perhaps this is a standard practice in leather making? I dunno - this is my first year tackling fruit leathers, but perhaps a blend for persimmon leather would be good?

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2015, 02:26:32 PM »
Cherry tomatoes: Halve them and put them on a cookie sheet in a low (225-250) oven for 1.5-2 hours for delicious "sun dried" tomatoes. I packed them with olive oil and kept them in the fridge, but you could keep them dried or can them.

Pumpkins: Halve, scoop out the seeds and roast at 300-350 for an hour or until soft. Scoop out the flesh and blend with a stick blender or a food mill and freeze. I've done this for years and it's great for pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin soups, etc. Basically anything you'd use commercial canned pumpkin for.

Green onions/chives: Chop and freeze. You're not going to want to put them on top of your baked potato, but they're still good in soups, casseroles and pasta dishes.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #37 on: September 14, 2015, 05:05:43 PM »
Tomatoes if you're planning to cook with them: throw them, whole, into a ziplock bag and toss them in the freezer. It really is that simple.


Paste tomatoes- slice and dehydrate, store in jars. Rehydrate with warm water to throw on pizza. For paste, prep them dry in a food processor and add water until you get the consistency of a tomato paste.


Basil - either pesto or move inside and preserve on the plant. Or both, ideally...

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #38 on: September 17, 2015, 01:16:55 PM »
Basil - either pesto or move inside and preserve on the plant. Or both, ideally...

How much sunlight does basil need to be happy indoors? I don't have any plants in good enough shape to attempt it this year but maybe next year?

Question for those of you who've been dehydrating long than me: with fruits like apples, do you stick to a strict, flat single layer of slices or do you overlap them (like in a tart) figuring the shrinkage as they dry keeps them from failing to dry in a reasonable time period.

Discovered my favorite orchard grows delicious sweet plums the size of a small child's fist. Too late (time and budget) wise to pick that many but we picked about 6 pounds to eat and experiment with.

Also nabbed a 1/2 peck of pears to experiment with as I go through my next 3 bushels of apples.
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #39 on: September 17, 2015, 02:39:31 PM »

Question for those of you who've been dehydrating long than me: with fruits like apples, do you stick to a strict, flat single layer of slices or do you overlap them (like in a tart) figuring the shrinkage as they dry keeps them from failing to dry in a reasonable time period.


I just dried apples, in a low oven, I think overlapping will lead to slices being stuck together. Of course, you are using a different system.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #40 on: September 17, 2015, 03:51:57 PM »
Basil - either pesto or move inside and preserve on the plant. Or both, ideally...

How much sunlight does basil need to be happy indoors? I don't have any plants in good enough shape to attempt it this year but maybe next year?

Question for those of you who've been dehydrating long than me: with fruits like apples, do you stick to a strict, flat single layer of slices or do you overlap them (like in a tart) figuring the shrinkage as they dry keeps them from failing to dry in a reasonable time period.

Discovered my favorite orchard grows delicious sweet plums the size of a small child's fist. Too late (time and budget) wise to pick that many but we picked about 6 pounds to eat and experiment with.

Also nabbed a 1/2 peck of pears to experiment with as I go through my next 3 bushels of apples.


You know, I don't know for sure how much sun basil really needs. Mine gets quite a lot (house set up for passive solar heating - I grew tomatoes in the kitchen in January last year.), so I don't know if it can do with less. It's pretty cheap to try, though. I've just started some new plants to move inside - planted last weekend. May be too late where you are, though. Actually, I think I started my last indoor batch inside. Again, basil seeds are cheap, so maybe try on a sunny windowsill.


On the apples, I always do strictly a single layer, but in this case, your climate may work to your benefit. Our humidity is crazy high, and you might be okay with an overlap. Again, apples are cheap -try a small area of the dehydrator and see.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2015, 01:05:29 PM »
How dirty do you let the boiling water bath water get before you replace it? My applesauce likes to leak even with a full 1" headspace (NCFHP guideline is only 1/2"), but I hate having to reheat a huge kettle all over again between batches.
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #42 on: September 19, 2015, 02:34:06 PM »
I typically only end up with a glut of two things from my garden (excluding  herbs, wich I dry in abundance): chilies  and sweet peppers. My two cent on preserving  is that dried chilies is by far the most versatile and the most space-effective.  Tends to both  mellow  strength and enhance flavour.

For peppers I only bother  with one metod: charing and then peeling, de-seading and freezing. Chared peppers added  to lasagna, tomato soup  or any type of taco is a must-try.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #43 on: September 19, 2015, 03:32:47 PM »
I shudder to think of all the food that I was unable to use up because I am not set up to "preserve" right now. Tomatoes, cucumbers,  blackberries, beans, apples (three varieties), plums...and more.

At the end of the season here I've had to call up family and neighbours to tell them to come and get whatever they want. The thought of good food rotting on the vine or branch or on the ground is even more upsetting than us not getting the food ourselves. I only expect this situation to exist for another season or two. I hope this thread will become a fixture in my forum time here going forward. Thanks for your efforts Chief....

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #44 on: September 19, 2015, 04:10:33 PM »
At the end of the season here I've had to call up family and neighbours to tell them to come and get whatever they want. The thought of good food rotting on the vine or branch or on the ground is even more upsetting than us not getting the food ourselves. I only expect this situation to exist for another season or two. I hope this thread will become a fixture in my forum time here going forward. Thanks for your efforts Chief....

Call it a gleaning party!

You have electricity at your shed - is it a time or storage space consideration?
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #45 on: September 19, 2015, 04:44:39 PM »
How dirty do you let the boiling water bath water get before you replace it? My applesauce likes to leak even with a full 1" headspace (NCFHP guideline is only 1/2"), but I hate having to reheat a huge kettle all over again between batches.

I do a full day "session" of up to several rounds of canning without replacing water, just topping up the water as needed. BUT - I am concerned that you are having leaking at 1" headspace. I'd be wary of underfilling - you risk early oxidizing in the jars with a too-large headspace, especially since you are a low sugar preserver.

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #46 on: September 19, 2015, 04:52:11 PM »
How dirty do you let the boiling water bath water get before you replace it? My applesauce likes to leak even with a full 1" headspace (NCFHP guideline is only 1/2"), but I hate having to reheat a huge kettle all over again between batches.

I do a full day "session" of up to several rounds of canning without replacing water, just topping up the water as needed. BUT - I am concerned that you are having leaking at 1" headspace. I'd be wary of underfilling - you risk early oxidizing in the jars with a too-large headspace, especially since you are a low sugar preserver.

Should I use the 1/2" headspace and just accept the mess then? I tried that in the big new pot to see if it was the old pot and siphoning that created so much mess (remember my emails to you?). The water was quite cloudy and dark with 1/2" space.

And I guess technically I was using more like 3/4" space (up to necks of the jars) rather than a full 1" the second batch today. There was a noticeable amount of floating apple pulp in the water, but it wasn't darkened like the first round.

All the seals have been 100% good. When you say early oxidizing, would that be actual spoilage, or just color loss like can happen with jams or pickles when the food is above liquid level in the sealed jar? Because I could give a crap about that.

Ah, canning. I have such a love/hate relationship with you...
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“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #47 on: September 19, 2015, 05:44:51 PM »
At the end of the season here I've had to call up family and neighbours to tell them to come and get whatever they want. The thought of good food rotting on the vine or branch or on the ground is even more upsetting than us not getting the food ourselves. I only expect this situation to exist for another season or two. I hope this thread will become a fixture in my forum time here going forward. Thanks for your efforts Chief....

Call it a gleaning party!

You have electricity at your shed - is it a time or storage space consideration?

Our current shed has power, with a fridge etc...but it shall pretty much forever be a nice tool shed - where we keep cold beer in the Summer. :) I hope to design our future cabin in such a way to make food processing and preserving as easy as possible. I'd even consider designing a dedicated outbuilding to keep the mess away from the main house. I'm not sure yet what design elements would help with food processing/harvesting (tons of counter space would be a start I would guess)...but I'm jumping the gun...we haven't even settled on a final cabin design yet. ;)

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Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #48 on: September 19, 2015, 06:52:10 PM »
I shudder to think of all the food that I was unable to use up because I am not set up to "preserve" right now. Tomatoes, cucumbers,  blackberries, beans, apples (three varieties), plums...and more.

At the end of the season here I've had to call up family and neighbours to tell them to come and get whatever they want. The thought of good food rotting on the vine or branch or on the ground is even more upsetting than us not getting the food ourselves. I only expect this situation to exist for another season or two. I hope this thread will become a fixture in my forum time here going forward. Thanks for your efforts Chief....

You can dry, freeze or pickle most things. I am not going to be able to preserve everything, I am probably doing better this year than ever before. One issue I usually have is that many things produce small amounts over a long period of time. It can be hard to have enough harvest at any one time to process. This is part of the reason I haven't gotten in to canning, the set up and time doesn't seem worth one jar of something.

Work in progress. I will note that I am really enjoying the dried apples. Don't have to worry about shelf life at this point because they are getting eaten quickly, but that could be a concern.

Thegoblinchief

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    • The Goblin Chief
Re: Preserving the Harvest A-to-Z (WIP)
« Reply #49 on: September 19, 2015, 07:17:17 PM »
G-dog: yeah, freezing and drying are by far the best when things come in small batches. My canning this year has all been big purchases from farmers.

On shelf life, if you're storing the dry foods in Mason jars or thick plastic (Ziploc freezer bags) you're looking at least 12 month storage life. Dried apples specifically have a stated shelf-life of 20-25 years, though I think that is assuming vacuum packed.
Presenter at Camp Mustache Canada 2017

Read my urban homesteading adventures here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/food-forest-lagomorphs-and-tiny-dinos-in-the-city/

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.” - Bill Mollison