Many gardeners either have or are in the process of collecting seasonal autumn harvests. If you’re one of them, congratulations on growing successfully! It’s now the time to enjoy the deliciousness that is homegrown food.
But before digging in, have you ever thought about how it would be a shame to have spent all that time and effort growing, to only to enjoy your vegetables for a short space of time? While we agree, everything tastes better fresh, in the interest of sustainability, we feel it’s better to find ways to preserve what you have grown than to let it go to waste.
Similarly, if you’re not quite ready to enjoy your homegrown fruits and veg despite them having been ready for harvest, why not find ways to make sure they are stored in perfect conditions until you find the perfect recipes to make with your autumn harvesting vegetables.
Until then, check out this list of how to store and preserve these autumn vegetables:
Aubergines are best harvested before their skin loses its shine. While habit might tempt you to keep everything in the fridge because ‘it will last longer’, you would be surprised to know that aubergines actually last longer at room temperature. They are also light and heat sensitive. Meaning they should be kept in the shade and out of sources of heat.
A tip for when you are harvesting beetroots is to ensure the soil is dry to prevent it from attaching to plant roots too much. After harvesting, the ideal way to store and prepare them is to cut their tops off, 2 inches from their root and to refrigerate them in a plastic bag. Storing them this way should allow for them to last well between 1 to 2 weeks.
Despite being known for their limited harvesting window, Chillies are amazing in how they can be stored and preserved to last longer.
Common varieties such as birds eye chillies, with a waxy texture, can be left out to become dried out, in warm, sunny climates at the optimum temperature of 25°C. In cooler climates like the UK, this isn’t achievable during an autumn harvest so we would recommend using a dehydrator instead.
Alternatively, they can also be pickled. This method will keep them fresh and moist and applies to most type of chillies. Simply take your preferred choice of pickled chilli recipe and place them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Generally, courgettes last best when stored in the refrigerator crisp drawer. However, they can go even longer when stored in oil. After grilling courgettes, bottle them in oil to store and preserve. This method (oil preserving) enhances the natural taste of courgettes. You can even add some herbs and spices to flavour the courgettes to your preference.
Leeks, once prepared can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week. However, did you know that frozen leeks can last up to a year? It seems like a no-brainer if you’re hoping to get longevity when eating your crops. Keep the leeks you want to use soon in the fridge and the leftovers in the freezer.
Bonus tip: Try freezing cooked leeks with other vegetables like cooked carrots and potatoes so you have a ready to blend soup mix.
Sweet potatoes have the potential to last a month when harvested and stored in the correct way. Again, in line with the common theme of autumn harvesting vegetables is keeping them in a dark, cool environment. To make them last even longer, be sure that they get adequate air exposure and circulation.
While a month of sweet potatoes seems great, you can definitely make them last longer. Whether you’ve already committed to cooking them or your harvest is still raw, sweet potatoes can go a lot further when frozen. Freeze them mashed, boiled, diced or baked!
Before you get to work…
Remember, that with anything that you preserve by freezing, the sooner and fresher the fruit/vegetables are, the better they will last and taste! In fact, this goes for all methods of preserving your harvests. Keep on top of what’s in your garden to get the most of your crops.