Does anyone preserve their own fruits and vegetables? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-26-2008, 06:35 AM
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Methods for preserving food include canning, freezing, pickling, drying, curing, and root cellaring. I'm hoping to order a few books on these methods soon, but I'd love to hear from people who have used these methods. Which are the least expensive, and which are the simplest to learn?
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#2 Old 06-26-2008, 10:28 AM
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I have canned fruit, jellies and jams. It is rewarding, but surprisingly hard, hot work. You do have a pretty expensive outlay in the beginning (especially the pressure cooker if you are going to do vegetables) but it eventually pays off in savings on prepared canned foods, not to mention that everything tastes WAY better.



An excellent resource is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, written by the same people who make Mason jars.
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#3 Old 06-26-2008, 10:42 AM
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I go for easy, I freeze. Freezers run under $200 to buy (I'm not sure how much to run; I think mine was estimated just under $30 a year).



Tomatoes I blanche (brief dip in boiling water then move to ice water), skin, chop, bag.



Onions and peppers I chop (I do a variety of coarsenesses for different uses), lay out on a cookie sheet to freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag.



Squash I cut into bite-size pieces and bag (for soups and stews) or puree and bag (for hiding in spaghetti sauces and chilis so my husband will eat them ). The texture's not good enough for use in veggie fajitas and such, but it's good enough for the uses above.



Raspberries and blackberries I just wash and bag; maybe cut them in half if they're big.



Strawberries and peaches I slice small and bag. Texture isn't like fresh (adding sugar helps with that), but they're very good in cereal, frozen treats, and such.



Greens I chop very fine and bag. Again, I hide these in sauces.



Corn on the cob I blanche and bag.



Cabbage I cook like I want it in the crock pot and bag in single serve portions.



Last night I froze a bunch of herbs; just washed and froze as whole leaves. I plan to use them as if fresh, but this is the first time I've tried it.



Is there a useful way to preserve cucumbers without making pickles? I think I'm about to be overrun by them...
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#4 Old 06-26-2008, 10:56 AM
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I've been buying some extra organic strawberries recently while they're in season and cheaper. I washed them, cut out the stems, and layed them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. After they were frozen I transfer them to a big freezer bag.



That's about the extent of my stock-piling. HTH!
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#5 Old 06-26-2008, 11:04 AM
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I grew up canning, freezing, drying, etc. My family made over 100 quarts of spaghetti sauce each year, and we generally used most of it before tomato season came again. We also canned applesauce and made jams and jellies from whatever fruits were locally available. Blueberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, rhubarb, strawberries... We also washed and froze a LOT of blueberries. Those have always been a favorite snack.



When I moved out on my own a few years ago, the only preserving I felt up to doing on my own was picking, washing and freezing blueberries. My dad's cousin has a pick-your-own blueberry farm. I picked about three gallons--not a good year--and spent the rest of the day washing them. It took up over half the space in my freezer. I had no place in my apartment to put a chest freezer, so I was just using the freezer that is part of my fridge.



I don't think I'll even get to do that much this summer. Blueberry season is upon us, and I'm moving, and I just don't think I can squeeze in a blueberry trip. Maybe, if I can find a blueberry farm within half an hour's drive. My dad's cousin's farm is an hour and a half away.

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#6 Old 06-27-2008, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bios View Post

I go for easy, I freeze. Freezers run under $200 to buy (I'm not sure how much to run; I think mine was estimated just under $30 a year).



Tomatoes I blanche (brief dip in boiling water then move to ice water), skin, chop, bag.



Onions and peppers I chop (I do a variety of coarsenesses for different uses), lay out on a cookie sheet to freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag.



Squash I cut into bite-size pieces and bag (for soups and stews) or puree and bag (for hiding in spaghetti sauces and chilis so my husband will eat them ). The texture's not good enough for use in veggie fajitas and such, but it's good enough for the uses above.



Raspberries and blackberries I just wash and bag; maybe cut them in half if they're big.



Strawberries and peaches I slice small and bag. Texture isn't like fresh (adding sugar helps with that), but they're very good in cereal, frozen treats, and such.



Greens I chop very fine and bag. Again, I hide these in sauces.



Corn on the cob I blanche and bag.



Cabbage I cook like I want it in the crock pot and bag in single serve portions.



Last night I froze a bunch of herbs; just washed and froze as whole leaves. I plan to use them as if fresh, but this is the first time I've tried it.



Is there a useful way to preserve cucumbers without making pickles? I think I'm about to be overrun by them...







Thank-you so much for this post! You've helped me tremendously.

My husband & I have been discussing the cost of pressure canners, they are EXPENSIVE!!!

I already have a foodsaver, and this upcoming Spring I'm putting out my first garden and I've been trying to decide if I wanted to invest in a pressure canner or not, when I already have a great tool to store my extra surplus.



Tomatoes are a biggie for me, they are one of my very fav. vegetables/fruits (?) and I wasn't for sure how well they could be frozen.



Great thread, rainforests1!





Michelle
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#7 Old 06-27-2008, 03:05 PM
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Thank-you so much for this post! You've helped me tremendously.

My husband & I have been discussing the cost of pressure canners, they are EXPENSIVE!!!

I already have a foodsaver, and this upcoming Spring I'm putting out my first garden and I've been trying to decide if I wanted to invest in a pressure canner or not, when I already have a great tool to store my extra surplus.



Tomatoes are a biggie for me, they are one of my very fav. vegetables/fruits (?) and I wasn't for sure how well they could be frozen.



Great thread, rainforests1!





Michelle

Thank you. How much do pressure canners generally cost? I'll have to do a lot of research on these over the next few weeks.
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#8 Old 06-27-2008, 03:21 PM
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Thank you. How much do pressure canners generally cost? I'll have to do a lot of research on these over the next few weeks.



around a hundred dollars. i bought one last year. canning is hot and sweaty work as someone said. i canned about 200 jars last year. i do use my freezers but i dont need electricity to store canned jars--they just go on shelves in the basement. i think it is definitely worth the investment.
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#9 Old 06-27-2008, 05:26 PM
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We can a lot of our veggies.
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#10 Old 06-27-2008, 08:05 PM
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How long do canned tomatoes last before they spoil? What about dried tomatoes bagged with a foodsaver?

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#11 Old 06-28-2008, 06:50 AM
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around a hundred dollars. i bought one last year. canning is hot and sweaty work as someone said. i canned about 200 jars last year. i do use my freezers but i dont need electricity to store canned jars--they just go on shelves in the basement. i think it is definitely worth the investment.



The price seems pretty reasonable. I was expecting it to be higher. Are you able to can any food or is it just certain ones? I'm hoping to start by next Summer so I'm not in any rush. I'm favoring root-cellaring at the moment, but I'll have to read more.
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#12 Old 06-28-2008, 07:08 AM
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The price seems pretty reasonable. I was expecting it to be higher. Are you able to can any food or is it just certain ones? I'm hoping to start by next Summer so I'm not in any rush. I'm favoring root-cellaring at the moment, but I'll have to read more.



i can whatever veggies i have--different soups, stews, spreads and pattie mixes. you cannot can low acid vegetables in a water bath canner--you need a pressure canner. you can google to see which ones are suitable for water bath canning if that is the route you wish to take.
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#13 Old 06-28-2008, 07:35 AM
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Some safety issues: pressure cookers (or canners) are not cheap, but please don't be tempted to buy a used one, at say, a garage sale. The older ones can be very dangerous to use. The same is true for canning jars - be very careful about buying them at flea markets and places like that. The tiniest nick on the mouth of the jar can compromise your seal. Same goes for the jar lids (the flat part with the rubber seal, not the screw-rings.) These should be purchased new each year, (check the expiration date) and never be re-used.



I don't mean to be an alarmist. If you want to "put up" lots of fresh food and don't have chest freezer, canning is a great way to go, but it is not a process to be used casually. People who try to "wing it," without doing their homework can not only seriously hurt themselves during the process, but even hurt the people who later eat what was canned!
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#14 Old 06-29-2008, 07:36 AM
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I have one last question. If you don't garden, can you still use these methods? I was hoping to buy fresh produce from the local Farmer's markets.
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#15 Old 06-29-2008, 08:33 AM
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of course--i dont garden at all. i kill simple houseplants wayyyyy too easily to consider gardening!!!
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#16 Old 06-30-2008, 09:26 AM
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of course--i dont garden at all. i kill simple houseplants wayyyyy too easily to consider gardening!!!

Well every review of the books have focused on gardeners. I was curious as to why that is, but it is good that other people can use these methods as well. I'm not good at gardening either. It's just too complicated.
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#17 Old 06-30-2008, 10:27 AM
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When you garden, you have more of a veggie than you can use at peak season, if you plant enough to get some before and after peak season. So canning gets more tempting. Certainly you can can (dance, anyone? ) stuff from the Farmer's Market; I do that with stuff I don't grow enough of myself.



Just don't assume if you kill houseplants you can't garden! I've given up with indoor plants, but I can read the directions on a pack of seeds and do ok.
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#18 Old 06-30-2008, 01:10 PM
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When you garden, you have more of a veggie than you can use at peak season, if you plant enough to get some before and after peak season. So canning gets more tempting. Certainly you can can (dance, anyone? ) stuff from the Farmer's Market; I do that with stuff I don't grow enough of myself.



Just don't assume if you kill houseplants you can't garden! I've given up with indoor plants, but I can read the directions on a pack of seeds and do ok.



ha--i also dont like bugs and wormy things and getting dirty!! plus, i just dont have time with all the cooking i do.
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#19 Old 07-02-2008, 07:19 AM
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I make sauce out of my tomatoes and freeze it. That's about it, really. I don't know that I would trust my own sterilization of food and things. I am growing cucumbers and dill this year, so if they both produce ok I'm going to try to make some dill pickles!

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