Fall is here, and winter is soon on its way. As gardeners, we often want to put all of our summer-grown crops to good use before they expire. To satisfy your craving for home-grown produce throughout the cold season, harvest and store your fruits and vegetables now. Other garden goods, such as flowers and herbs, can also serve numerous functions. Follow these tips to use up your garden before it goes bad.
Don’t let fresh fruit go to waste. One popular way to preserve fruit is via canning. Fruit should be gathered at its peak of quality and thoroughly rinsed to remove all dirt and to boost the effectiveness of the preservation process. Water-bath canning is the ideal method for canning fruit chunks and making jams.
Fruits can also be dehydrated to create delicious, healthy snacks. To prevent hard or crusty skins, dehydrate fruits between 125°F and 135°F. If you prefer to store your fruit long-term, freezing is also a good option. Freezing fruit in freezer bags or air-tight containers can keep it fresh up to a year.
Like fruits, vegetables can also be canned or frozen to slow down spoilage and loss of quality and nutritional value. Instead of the water-bath canning method, veggies should be preserved with a pressure canner. The high temperatures inside the pressure canner help to destroy any bacteria inside the jars, ensuring safe consumption later on.
Oil-packing is another way to preserve your garden vegetables. Olive oil acts as a natural preservative, helping to prevent spoilage by protecting the food from oxygen. Many types of veggies can be preserved in olive oil, including sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet peppers, eggplants, and baby artichokes.
No one wants to see their lovely flowers droop. Instead of letting your flowers succumb to their frosty environment, consider cutting a bunch to create a colorful arrangement for yourself or a friend. Cut stems should be placed in water immediately, and commercial preservatives can be added to extend the life of the cut flowers.
No matter what you do, flowers will eventually wilt. If you wish to enjoy your flowers for years to come, consider drying them to preserve their color and beauty. Dried flowers are the perfect accent to decorating projects, seasonal wreaths, and keepsake bouquets. They can also be flattened and used in photo albums, baby books, and family scrapbooks.
Fresh herbs have many uses, from giving instant flavor to otherwise bland dishes to offering natural medicinal properties. Herbs can be stored fresh, frozen, or air-dried for later use. Tea-lovers can also use freshly gathered herbs in their hot beverages. Tea made from fresh herbs maintains 50 to 90 percent of the plant’s effective ingredients.
Pleasant-smelling herbs can also be used to make potpourri or herbal sachets. These projects are simple to make and can provide long-lasting, alluring scents that drift through the house. Essential oils can be added to enhance the scent of the herbs but should be used sparingly to prevent overpowering the herbs’ natural scents.