The nights might be drawing in and the air may have a bite, but the season makes up for its changing weather with the sudden burst of fruits and vegetables grown in home soils. If you’ve tried your hand at growing your own produce this year and aren’t quite sure what to do with your crops, read our quick guide to the best ways to make them see you through the cold season.
Of course, your garage might be the perfect place to store your harvest, providing that it’s dry and that you can keep the temperature down – and if it’s damp and draughty? Call our repair service to make sure your door is working as it should be.
Freezing is the fastest and easiest way to preserve fruits and vegetables, and you may find it worthwhile to purchase a dedicated chest freezer to keep in your garage. You may choose to blanche vegetables prior to freezing (which stops enzyme action and retains quality), but you can also freeze them fresh, like fruit. Make sure to store them in vacuum-sealed bags to prevent ice crystals from forming, and help keep them looking good.
Jams, Chutney and Preserves
A simple way to make your fruit harvest last longer is to turn them into jam – which can also be used as a delicious home-made gift in a few months’ time! Start by removing any stems, cores or thick skins, then chop or mash the fruit down before cooking with sugar. For vegetables and more savoury fruit, you can mix them with sugar, vinegar and seasoning to create delicious chutneys. Make sure that your jars are vacuum-sealed to ensure safe preservation.
Using your harvest to infuse oil or alcohol is a creative way to make your stocks last longer. Herbs and spices (chillies, garlic etc.) work best in olive oil, thanks to its long shelf life, while you can make some exciting alcohol infusions with almost any distilled spirit – why not try a few at a time to spice up your cocktail making? The simple taste of vodka makes it a popular choice, and light spirits like gin, white rum and tequila can easily be infused with citrus, fruit or spices. The process will only take a few days, but during this time you will need to agitate the mixture and strain it before consumption.
Create a “root cellar”
A root cellar is a cool, dry space dedicated to storing fruits and vegetables that have a medium-shelf life and don’t need much processing once they’ve been harvested. This space can be as big as a basement, or as modest as a porch – the most important thing is that it’s kept consistently cool. If you’ve got space in your garage for a root cellar of sorts, they are ideal for carrots, potatoes, apples, onions and similar produce.
There are many methods for drying out foods; some are best suited to laying out on a baking tray in the oven, where others can simply be air dried over a few days. Do your research and make sure you understand the best kind of drying for your produce, and make sure you have an appropriate amount of space. Once dehydrated, you will need to keep your fruits and vegetables in airtight containers.