Preserving fall produce
The garden may seem like it is done, but cold weather crops are still producing. Follow these tips to preserve your bounty.
Gardens have not quite given up producing during the end of the fall season. Many farmers markets still provide wonderful choices of fall produce. Some popular fall vegetables are carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, winter squash, and pumpkin. These hearty vegetables can be enjoyed raw, cooked or preserved.
There are several different ways to preserve various types of fall produce. It is recommended to store preserved items for up to a year so they can be refreshed the following season.
Carrots can be canned, pickled or frozen to enjoy in the months ahead. Make sure you pressure-can carrots, because they are a low-acid food and must be processed in a pressure canner. Also use a research-based recipe to ensure a safely preserved product. Follow these tips to safely preserve carrots in a jar:
- Pressure canning: Choose fresh carrots, clean them with cool running water and a brush, then slice or dice the carrots. Carrots may be hot or raw packed and then processed. Process 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds of pressure or in a weighted–gauge pressure canner at ten pounds of pressure.
- Pickling: Another great way to preserve is pickling. To pickle your carrots, check with a research-tested recipe for proper brine proportions and processing times.
- Freezing: Freezing carrots involves cleaning the carrots and requires blanching for five minutes if left whole, two minutes if sliced or diced. Cool immediately in ice water, drain, and package leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, date and freeze your packages.
Broccoli is best preserved frozen; it is not recommended for canning. To freeze broccoli, clean, and soak in a light saltwater solution to remove any insects that may be in the broccoli flower. Then blanch in boiling water for three minutes, cool in ice water for the same amount of time. Drain well and package, leaving no headspace or air gaps. Seal, date and freeze your packages. For best quality, store for no more than one year.
- Pressure canning: Winter squash can be canned in one-inch cubes or frozen. Cut flesh into one-inch cubes. It is not safe to puree pumpkin or squash. To preserve winter squash or pumpkin in a jar, wash, remove seeds, cut into one-inch-wide slices, and peel. Boil in water for two minutes, and do not mash. Fill jars with the cubes of squash and cooking liquid. Process 55 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a weighted-gauge pressure canner at ten pounds of pressure.
- Freezing: To freeze winter squash or pumpkin, cut in half, remove seeds, bake on a cookie sheet with the cut side down until soft in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until tender. There should not be resistance when the squash is pierced with a fork or knife. Scoop out pulp, separating it from the rind. Mash, cool, package, seal, date and freeze.
Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed fresh, roasted, or pickled or frozen.
- Oven roasting: To prepare oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, trim one to two pounds of sprouts, wash and pat dry. Place into a large resalable plastic bag with three tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Seal tightly and shake to coat. Place Brussel sprouts onto a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit bake 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every five to seven minutes to prevent burning.
- Pickling: Another way to preserve Brussels sprouts is to pickle. Use research tested recipe to determine proper proportioned brine and correct processing times.
- Freezing: You can also preserve Brussels sprouts by freezing. It is easily done by removing coarse outer leaves, washing thoroughly. Sort Brussels sprouts by size. Blanch in boiling water, small heads three minutes, medium heads four minutes and large heads five minutes. Cool in ice water for the same amount of time spent in boiling water. Drain well and package, being sure to remove all air, then seal and freeze.
Enjoy your fall produce, either now as you pick it or later in the chilly months. Michigan State University Extension recommends utilizing research-tested recipes when preserving produce, resources such as Michigan Fresh and the National Center for Home Food Preservation serve as reliable resources.