Tips for Fruit and Vegetable Storage

Fruit and vegetable storage can be safe and easy with these simple tips.

| March 2014

Safe Food Storage

With proper canning and freezing techniques, fruit and vegetable storage can be a breeze.

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For urban and suburban folk, finding proper gardening space can seem like an insurmountable task. Margaret Park offers a welcome solution with More Food From Small Spaces (Great River Books, 2013), with tips to grow healthy, organic vegetables and fruits while maximizing garden space. This excerpt from the chapter "Making Food Last" if for when the crops are in and you're faced with an important question: What do you need to know about fruit and vegetable storage?

You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: More Food From Small Spaces

More More Food From Small Spaces:
Dehydrating Fruit and Vegetables
Growing Your Own Vegetables in a Backyard Garden
How to Make a Solar Food Dryer

The goal of this chapter is to help you eat fresh vegetables as long as possible throughout the year. Fruit and vegetable storage is not likely to be a very time consuming task with small spaces, especially with an 8x16 foot plot. But if you do have a bumper crop that you need to move out of the garden — fall is usually the time when this happens — there are three options for food storage: canning, freezing and drying.

I have my definite preferences for fruit and vegetable storage. I always use a lot of canned tomatoes throughout the year and with concerns about the plastics that are used for lining the insides of commercially packed foods, I like to can my own. However, having some sundried tomatoes months later is desirable as well. This section of the book is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to food storage, but rather a personal account of suitable ways to make the food in your garden last longer. There are many books and sources of online information about canning, freezing and drying. My most unique offering in this chapter is showing how to make a simple, effective solar food drying arrangement that works very well to dry food with no power source other than the sun.

One of the saddest moments for the vegetable gardener is hearing news of an impending frost when tomato vines are still loaded with green tomatoes. After all, how many fried green tomatoes can a family eat? Since doing this intensive gardening, I’ve learned not to completely despair on these chilly fall nights. Many of these late tomatoes will eventually ripen if left out in bowls at room temperature. If the frost will only be light, it’s possible to preserve tomato plants by covering them with cloth or plastic overnight. If the temperatures are really going to dip, then it’s best to harvest all the tomatoes and give them a chance to ripen. I have been so very pleased with the number of these tomatoes that do eventually turn red. Last fall we were eating our tomatoes until the end of November.

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