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  • Jennifer Hoglin

Best Ways To Preserve Your Veggies

Now that we have reviewed the methods used to preserve our harvest, it's time to learn which of those methods works best for each vegetable. Every veggie is different and therefore, the best way to enjoy them as long as possible is different too. Listed here are notes for each type of vegetable on harvesting, the very best method for preserving, and a couple additional methods where they may be preferable to save time or effort (because sometimes very good is good enough when it saves you tons of time). I've included any special instructions and blanching times when appropriate for each. Links to the previous articles with further details on each method can be found by scrolling down to the bottom. Use this article as a reference whenever you have an abundance of produce and need ideas for the tastiest ways to keep them in your kitchen for as long as possible.



Asparagus

Harvest

  • When 6" - 8” tall and thicker than a pencil

  • Do not harvest in the first 2 years and harvest minimally in the 3rd year (2 stems max per plant)

  • Cut spears about 1" below the soil line with a knife, or snap off right at the soil line

Best preservation method

  • Freezing in sealed bags

  • Wash and remove tough ends

  • Into portion size bag with seasoning, seal

  • Blanch bags 4 - 8 minutes

  • Cool and freeze

Second best method

  • Standard freezing

  • Wash and remove tough ends

  • 3 - 4 minutes blanch

  • Ice bath to cool, package, and freeze


Beans, Green

Mascotte and Dragon Tongue beans

Harvest

  • Slightly immature when seeds are still tiny

  • If heat canning, harvest when they are a bit more mature to ensure they stay firm after processing

Best preservation method

  • Frozen, unblanched, whole or frenched

  • Wash and trim ends

  • Leave whole or cut into 3" pieces

  • Package and freeze

Alternate best preservation method

  • Canned and lacto-fermented

  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, or relishes

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best method

  • Freezing, blanched, in sealing bags

  • Wash and trim ends

  • Leave whole or cut into 3" pieces

  • Into bag with seasoning, seal

  • Blanch 6 - 8 minutes, cool and freeze


Beans, Dry

Harvest

  • Leave on the vine until pods are completely dry

Best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Shell beans and dry on cookie sheet for several days

  • Into airtight container, store in a cool, dry place


Beets, Turnips, Radish and Kohlrabi

Red Ace and Bolder beets

Harvest

  • Late fall, after at least one light frost, but do not let freeze completely

  • Cut off tops, leaving 1” stem

  • Leave root on

  • Storage types of turnips and winter types of radish will store for much longer than other, faster growing types

  • See the section on Greens for information on beet, turnip, and kohlrabi leaf preservation

Best preservation method (0°C, 90-95% humidity)

  • Cold storage (cool and moist)

  • Scrub and dry

  • Into zip top bag with paper towel, refrigerate

  • Alternate cold storage method

  • Do not wash

  • Into cardboard box with 2" - 4” sawdust top and bottom, and 1” sawdust between layers

  • Into root cellar or unheated garage

  • Do not store apples in the same location as beets. Ethylene from apples will cause bitter flavours

  • Beets will store for 1- 2 months, storage turnips for 4 - 5 months, winter radish for 2 - 4 months and kohlrabi for 1 - 2 months

Alternate best preservation method

  • Canned and lacto-fermented

  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, or relishes

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Freezing in sealed bags

  • Roast in oven until tender (approx. 1 hour at 400°F)

  • Remove skins and slice into bags with seasoning

  • Remove air, seal, cool, and freeze bags

Recipes


Broccoli and Cauliflower

Sprouting broccoli ready to harvest

Harvest

  • When head stops growing, and individual clusters start to spread out but are still firm

  • Cut just below the head and at an angle to encourage additional flower growth

  • For cauliflower, include some leaves when cutting to extend storage

Best preservation method

  • Standard freezing

  • Soak in salted water for ½ hour to remove insects and dirt

  • Cut into uniform sized pieces

  • Blanch 3 - 4 minutes

  • Cool in ice bath, drain, package and freeze

Second best preservation method

  • Freezing, unblanched

  • Soak in salted water

  • Pack in freezer bags, remove air, and freeze


Cabbage

Caraflex cabbage ready to harvest

Harvest

  • Entire plant (outer leaves and roots attached) in late fall, just before first frost

  • Long season varieties will store longer than early varieties

Best preservation method

  • Cold storage (0°C, 90 - 95% humidity)

  • Directly into root cellar

  • Hang upside down by roots

  • Will store 3 - 4 months

Alternate best preservation method

  • Canned and lacto-fermented

  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, or relishes

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Freezing then cooking

  • Whole outer leaves frozen in freezer bag

  • Thawed and used for cabbage rolls (no need to precook cabbage)


Carrots and Parsnips

Carrots bagged and ready for the fridge

Harvest

  • Late fall, after at least one frost

  • Cut off tops, leaving 1” stem

  • Leave root on

Best preservation method

  • Cold storage (cool and moist)

  • Scrub and dry

  • Into zip top bag with paper towel

  • Refrigerate

  • Alternate cold storage method (0°C, 95-100% humidity)

  • Do not wash, gently brush off excess soil

  • Cure in a cool, dry, dark place for 1 - 2 days

  • Into cardboard box with 2-4” sawdust top and bottom, and 1” sawdust between layers

  • Into root cellar or unheated garage

  • Carrots will last longer (3 - 4 months) than in the refrigerator and parsnips will last around 6 months

Alternate best preservation method

  • Canned and lacto-fermented

  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, or relishes

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Frozen in sealed bags

  • Wash, trim, and slice

  • Into portion size bag with seasoning, seal

  • Blanch bags 8 - 10 minutes

  • Cool and freeze

Third best preservation method

  • Standard freezing

  • Wash, trim, and slice

  • 3 - 5 minutes blanch

  • Ice bath to cool, package, and freeze


Corn

Harvest

  • When silks are fully brown, check kernels are full, sweet and emit a milky (not watery) substance when punctured

  • Harvest just before using or processing for maximum sweetness

Best preservation method

  • Frozen on the cob in sealed bags

  • Husk cobs, trim and pack into bags, remove air and seal

  • Blanch 7 - 11 minutes, turning halfway through

  • Cool bags in ice water, pat dry, and into freezer

Alternate best preservation method

  • Frozen kernels in sealed bags

  • Husk cobs, cut corn from cobs, pack into bags, add seasoning, remove air, and seal

  • Blanch 6 minutes

  • Cool bags, pat dry, and into freezer

Second best preservation method

  • Frozen cream-style corn

  • Husk cobs, cut corn from cobs and scrape cobs well

  • Add to large pot along with ¼ cup boiling water and 1 tsp cornstarch for every cup of kernels

  • Bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes, remove pot to ice water bath and stir to cool

  • Package into containers and freeze


Cucumbers

Cucumbers for pickling

Harvest

  • at any stage that is best for your storage preferences (approximately 3" long for sweet pickles, 6" long for dill pickles and 8" long for slicing)

  • harvest in the morning for maximum hydration and keep them cool

  • keep about 1/2" of stem on fruit

  • field slicers will store longer than greenhouse types, as they have thicker skin

Best preservation method

  • Canned as pickles or lacto-fermented

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Frozen slices for salad

  • Wash and thinly slice to make 2 quarts, add 1 sliced onion and 2 Tbsp salt, let stand 2 hours; drain and rise, drain and rise again

  • Combine with 2/3 cup each oil, vinegar, and sugar; add 1 tsp celery seed

  • Cover and refrigerate overnight, pack into containers (leaving 1” headroom) and freeze


Eggplant

Harvest

  • When fruit has a glossy shine

  • Frost injury will occur below 7°C

Best preservation method

  • Frozen in a cooked dish

  • Use your favourite recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Standard freezing

  • Peel and cut into ½” thick slices

  • Blanch 4 minutes in water with ¼ cup lemon juice added

  • Ice bath to cool, package, and freeze


Greens

Turnip greens

Harvest

  • While still young and tender, before plant bolts

  • Harvest in the morning, preferably when there is still dew on the leaves

  • For tougher greens, such as kale and collards, remove a few leaves from the bottom of each plant as needed and allow to continue to grow

Best preservation method

  • Standard freezing

  • Wash, drain, and large chop

  • Stir fry until wilted, 2 - 3 minutes

  • Package into bags, cool, and freeze

Second best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Wash and dry well

  • Dehydrator or oven at 110°F for 6 - 8 hours, or sun dry for up to 2 days

  • Dry when crisp and crumbly

  • Store whole in an airtight container

  • Or grind in a coffee grinder and use as a greens powder for smoothies

  • Can use any greens for this including carrot, radish, and turnip tops, mustard greens, chard, spinach, kale, and collards

Recipes


Herbs

Herbs hung to dry

Harvest

  • leaves and stems before flowering

  • Harvest seeds once completely dried

Best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Hang drying, dehydrator or oven at 110°F for 4-12 hours, or sun dry for up to 1 day

  • Strip the leaves, crumble, and store in airtight container in a cool, dark place

  • Not deal for tender herbs such as basil, cilantro, and chervil

  • Great for teas

Alternate best preservation method

  • Freezing

  • For less tender herbs: wash, blot dry, strip off leaves, chop or leave whole, pack into container, seal, and freeze

  • For all herbs: puree or grind into a paste with oil or water, portion into measured blobs or ice cube trays, freeze, transfer to containers, into freezer

Second best preservation method

  • Canning

  • Think jellies (mint jelly!)

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Vinegars and oils

  • Place 1 cup washed and dried herbs (can add garlic) into sterilized quart jar

  • Add 3 to 3 ½ cup vinegar or oil

  • Seal and place in cool, dark spot for 4-6 weeks

  • Strain through plastic colander than through coffee filters until clear

  • Pour into hot, sterilized, dry jars, seal and store in a cool, dry place


Lettuce

  • Use covers and cold frames to extend season

  • Best used fresh


Mushrooms

Harvest

  • Use only mushrooms you are 100% certain are edible

Best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Wash quickly (don’t soak), trim off 1/8” of stem end, thinly slice or chop

  • Dehydrate at 120°F for 8 -12 hours for dehydrator, 12 - 18 hours in an oven, or 1 - 2 days in the sun

  • Done when leathery and tough

  • Cool, package in airtight containers

Second best preservation method

  • Standard freezing

  • Wash quickly, trim 1/8” off stem ends, leave whole or slice

  • Blanch 3 minutes for sliced, 5 minutes for whole

  • Cool in ice water, package, and freeze


Onions, Garlic, Shallots

Braided and hung onions

Harvest

  • When tops have fallen over (onions and shallots) or 1/3 of leaves have browned and dried (garlic)

  • Must be cured in warm (27°C if possible), dry place for 2-3 weeks until skins are totally dry

  • Trim tops and roots once cured

Best preservation method

  • Cold storage (cool and dry) (0 - 10°C, 65 - 70% humidity)

  • Once cured, pack into mesh bags, braid stems or store in any box with slats or holes (good circulation is key!)

  • Onions will store 6 - 7 months, garlic will store 3 - 5 months

Onions second best preservation method

  • Tray freezing unblanched onions

  • Peel and chop or slice

  • Spread in a single layer on baking sheet, freeze

  • Package within 12 - 24 hours and freeze

Onions alternate second best method

  • Drying chopped onions

  • Peel and chop

  • Dry at 120°F for 12 - 24 hours for dehydrator, 24 -- 36 hours for an oven or 2 - 3 days in the sun

  • Done when brittle and papery

  • Cool and package in airtight containers

Recipes

  • Preserving Garlic Videos (for minced garlic, garlic salt, garlic butter, lacto-fermented garlic and honey fermented garlic)


Peas

Snap peas

Harvest

  • As soon as peas fill the pod, in the afternoon is best

  • For dry peas, leave on the vine until pods are completely dry

Best preservation method, garden peas

  • freezing in sealed bags

  • Shell, wash and drain

  • Into bag with butter and seasoning, press out air, seal

  • Blanch bags 4 minutes

  • Cool bags in ice water, pat dry, and freeze

Best preservation method, snow and snap peas

  • Tray freezing

  • Wash and trim ends, remove strings

  • Blanch 3 minutes, drain, pat dry

  • Spread in a single layer on baking sheet, freeze

  • Package within 12 - 24 hours and freeze

Second best preservation method, garden peas

  • Standard freezing

  • Shell, wash and drain

  • Blanch for 2 minutes

  • Cool in ice water, drain, package, and freeze

Best method dry peas

  • Drying

  • Shell beans and dry on cookie sheet for several days

  • Into airtight container, store in cool, dry place


Peppers

Hungarian wax peppers, my favourite

Harvest

  • When fully mature in size with thick flesh

  • Can be picked green or allowed to ripen to red/orange/yellow

Best preservation method

  • Tray freezing, no blanching

  • Wash, cut out stem, seeds and white membrane

  • Spread in a single layer on baking sheet, freeze

  • Package within 12-24 hours and freeze

Second best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Wash, cut out stem, seeds and white membrane, chop

  • Dry at 120°F for 8 - 12 hours in dehydrator, 18 - 24 hours in an oven or 1 - 2 days in the sun

  • Done when leathery and completely dry

  • Cool and package in airtight containers

Recipes


Potatoes

Harvest

  • Once tops die off and are removed

  • Harvest before temperatures reach -3°C; break off tops yourself if it is getting late in the season and they are not dying off themselves

  • Cure tubers at room temperature and out of light for 10 - 14 days to dry out skins

Best preservation method

  • Cold storage (4°C, 85 - 90% humidity)

  • Warm area of root cellar or cool area of pantry for longest storage

  • Store out of light to prevent the production of glycoalkaloids (the green pigment that can make you sick)

  • Do not store with apples (the ethylene with promote sprouting)

  • Will store 6 - 7 months

Second best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Wash, peel and cut into 1/2” strips or 1/8” slices

  • Dry at 120°F for 12 - 18 hours in a dehydrator, 18 - 24 hours in the oven or 2 - 3 days in the sun

  • Done when brittle and semi-transparent

  • Cool and package in airtight containers


Rhubarb

Or you could just eat rhubarb this way!

Harvest

  • When stalks are as thick as your thumb by twisting the stalks (don’t cut them)

Best preservation method

  • Freezing

  • Wash, trim, and cut into 1” pieces

  • Pack into containers leaving ½” headspace, seal, and freeze

Alternate best preservation method

  • Add to baked goods and freeze

  • Think pies, cakes, crisps, etc.

Second best preservation method

  • Canning

  • Think jams, jellies, preserves, butters

  • Use a modern recipe

  • Wash, trim and cut into 1” pieces

  • Add ½ cup sugar to each quart, let stand several hours, then boil hard for 1 minute

  • Pack into hot sterilized jars, covering with hot juice, leaving ½” headspace

  • Process 10 minutes for pints and quarts

Recipes


Summer Squash

Assorted summer squash

Harvest

  • Includes zucchini, yellow squash and pattypan

  • When small and firm with under ripe seeds (refer to seed package for ideal size)

  • Leave 1" of stem on fruit

  • Be careful, skin is easily damaged

Best preservation method

  • Freezing unblanched

  • Wash, trim ends, slice ¼” thick

  • Into freezer bags, remove air, seal, and freeze

Alternate best preservation method

  • Canned and lacto-fermented

  • Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, or relishes

  • Use a modern recipe

Second best preservation method

  • Freezing in sealed bags

  • Wash, trim ends, slice ¼” thick

  • Pack in bags, add butter and seasonings, press out air, seal

  • Blanch 5 minutes

  • Cool in ice water, pat dry, and freeze

Third best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Wash, cut into 1/8” slices, do not peel

  • Dry at 120°F for 6 - 8 hours in a dehydrator, 6 - 8 hours in an oven or 8 - 10 hours in the sun

  • Done when crisp

  • Cool and package in airtight containers

Recipes


Tomatoes

Spiced Tomato Jam (great for cherry tomatoes)

Harvest

  • When fully ripe and slightly soft

  • Mature, unripe tomatoes can be laid on newspaper with newspaper covering them at 15 - 20°C until ripe

  • Tomatoes that are not mature (will have a matte green colour instead of a shiny green colour) will likely not ripen at all

  • Temperatures below 10°C can cause chilling injury to fruit (that's why we don't store tomatoes in the refrigerator)

Best preservation method

  • Canning tomato puree

  • Wash, core and quarter

  • Puree in a food mill

  • Heat to boiling, boil 5 minutes, pour into heated jars, add lemon juice (1 Tbsp/pint or 2 Tbsp/quart) and salt (1/2 tsp/pint or 1 tsp/quart)

  • Process 35 minutes for pints or 40 minutes for quarts

Alternate best preservation method

  • Canning raw pack whole tomatoes

  • Scald tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, remove to cold water, peel and core

  • Add lemon juice (1 Tbsp/pint or 2 Tbsp/quart) to hot jars, pack tomatoes tightly

  • Add boiling water or juice if necessary to leave ½” headspace

  • Process 40 minutes for pints or 45 minutes for quarts

Alternate best preservation method

  • Drying

  • Wash, core and slice into 1/8” thick

  • Dry at 120°F for 8 - 10 hours, turn and dry an additional 6 - 8 hours in a dehydrator, or 18 - 24 hours in an oven or 1 - 2 days in the sun

  • Done when brittle and crisp

  • Cool and package in airtight containers

  • For ‘sun-dried tomatoes’ partially rehydrate, add basil and garlic, and cover with olive oil in a clean jar (can be stored at a pantry for 2-3 months)

Ready for the freezer and when I have more time to make into sauce

Second best preservation method

  • Freezing whole tomatoes

  • Wash and core

  • Optional to scald tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds and peel first

  • Spread in a single layer on baking sheet, freeze

  • Package within 12 - 24 hours and freeze

  • Or package directly into containers and freeze

  • Can thaw and make into preserves later (very easy to peel once thawed)

Recipes


Winter Squash & Pumpkin

Mature, but not fully ripened pumpkins

Harvest

  • When fully mature and fully coloured (check seed packages), skins should be too hard to pierce with a fingernail

  • For kabocha, hubbard and buttercup squashes the stem should also be dry and corky

  • Delicata and dumpling often have a dark orange ‘ground spot’

  • Leave 1” of stem on fruit

  • Plants cannot survive frost, but mature fruits on the vine can stand as cold as -3°C

Best preservation method

  • Cold storage (10°C, 70 - 75% humidity)

  • Cure in warm area with good circulation for 2 - 3 weeks first (except for acorn squash)

  • Wash rinds with 10% bleach solution to prevent rot

  • Ensure well spaced out for good air circulation

  • For mature fruit that is still green, store in a warm location (20°C) until fully coloured then transfer to cooler temperatures

  • Will store for 6 - 7 months

Second best preservation method

  • Freezing puree in sealed bags

  • Wash and cut into quarters (or smaller)

  • Steam or roast until tender, 45-60 minutes

  • Remove seeds, scoop out pulp, mash, or use a ricer

  • Add butter and seasonings, pack in bags, press out air, seal, freeze


*Remember to add 5 minutes to all sterilization and processing times to adjust for our elevation here in Calgary.


Related Articles


Harvesting Your Fruits and Veggies


Cold Storage of Your Harvest


Freezing Your Harvest


Drying Your Harvest


Water Bath Canning Your Harvest


Best Ways To Preserve Your Fruits (coming soon)

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