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Harvesting and Storing Vegetables

Most foods are best eaten fresh but many of us will still be harvesting and storing vegetables. So, if you really can’t face chopping another tomato, stuffing another courgette or peeling another onion then here’s some help.

Harvesting vegetables

Freshly harvested Parsnip - F1 Panorama from Suttons
Harvest your veg while they’re still in their prime
Image: Parsnip Seeds – F1 Panorama from Suttons

Whilst watering and feeding your plants keep eye on their development. Unless you are entering monster veg classes at your local show it’s best to be harvesting and storing vegetables whilst they are in their prime. This usually means whilst they are still young and tender.

Water the plants the evening before and pick the veg early in the morning. Alternatively, harvest your veg on a cool evening. The key thing being not to pick during the heat of the day and to get the veg into a cool environment, such as the house, as soon as possible.

Vegetables will start to lose their vitamin levels as soon as they are picked so harvesting and storing vegetables is best done on the same day, where possible.

Storing & preserving vegetables

Asparagus officinalis Mondeo from Suttons
Asparagus can be blanched and frozen to enjoy all year round
Image: Asparagus officinalis Mondeo from Suttons

Less than perfect veg really needs to be eaten fresh with only perfect, blemish free specimens being stored. Different methods of storage include:

Freezing vegetables

The following veg can all be blanched and frozen:

Drying vegetables

Some veg can simply be dried naturally and left in a cool dark place until needed. This includes:

Other veg, for example tomatoes, will need to be thoroughly dried, in the sun, oven or a dehydrator and then stored in oil.

Preserving & pickling vegetables

Pepper Chilli Seeds - Longhorn F1
Extend your chilli harvest by preserving your favourite varieties
Image: Pepper Chilli Seeds – Longhorn F1 from Suttons

The term “preserve” covers jams, jellies, salsa, chutneys and pickles. Whole books have been devoted to the huge range of recipes available with ingredients including the following:

Leaving vegetables in the ground

Leave winter veg such as sprouts, cabbage and leeks in the ground until needed. The same applies to root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips but these can also be lifted and stored in boxes of sand.

Using fruit & vegetables for brewing

Rhubarb (Rheum) Champagne from Suttons
Turn rhubarb stems into wine or lemonade to prolong the taste of summer!
Image: Rhubarb (Rheum) Champagne from Suttons

Wines and beers can be made from many vegetables. Beetroot and ginger is an old family favourite of mine. Other home-grown veg that can be fermented and supped includes:

Lead image: sanddebeautheil-GETTYIMAGES

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