Preserving Surplus Crops

Much of what we grow is best eaten fresh. I’m sure that many a pea doesn’t even make it as far as the kitchen and ripe sweetcorn cobs will have gone straight from the plant to the BBQ. The end of the growing season is the perfect time to invite friends for seasonal feasts of veggie soups and light stews. But much as fresh is best it’s also good to squirrel certain crops away, preserving them for enjoying over the winter months.

So, what crops store well and are worth keeping?

Herbs

Some fresh herbs, including basil, parsley and coriander, can be grown in pots on the windowsill. Herbs can also be washed, chopped and frozen in ice cube trays with a couple of teaspoons of water. No need to defrost, just plop them into whatever you are cooking.

Herbs can of course be dried. Simply hang bunches out of direct sunlight until brittle and then crumble into clean jars.

Olive oil, infused with a few sprigs of herbs, will add a wonderful flavour to roast potatoes and other vegetables.

Tomatoes

Early autumn is when the greenhouse needs to be cleared to make space for tender plants. So, accept that those last few green tomatoes are just not going to ripen and turn them into chutney. Fried green tomatoes are good enough to have had a song written about them so why not give them a try?

Tomatoes can also be dried, in an oven or dehydrator or frozen whole for use in soups and stews.

Onions

Onions have now been lifted and dried. To store plait the leaves together and hang or just put them all in a net bag. Hang in a cool dark place such as a shed or garage and use as required.

Potatoes

The most important thing when storing potatoes is to exclude light. Exposure to light will turn them green, and green potatoes are poisonous. So, store them in paper bags, in total darkness at a temperature of between 5 and 10°C.

Apples

Wrap the best quality fruits in paper and store or invest in a fruit press and enjoy juice and/or cider.

Squash and Pumpkins

Kept so that they don’t touch, in a cool dry place these will keep for months.

Some General Tips

  • Store only fully mature fruit and vegetables.
  • Do not store any items that show signs of damage. To keep them perfect take care when handling.
  • Allow the vegetables to dry and brush off any excess soil. Don’t wash them until you are ready to use.
  • Keep the storage area cool, dry and dark.
  • Every couple of weeks take a peek at your stored fruit and veg and discard or discard any showing signs of rot.