Grow Your Own, Nevada! Spring 2012: Preserving your harvest


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  • Peak of flavor and texture Limit holding time for produce to be processed (freezing, drying or canning) Thoroughly wash and trim just prior to processing
  • Ideal storage temp is 35-40, but will keep several months @ 40-50 F
  • Onions can lay on top of the ground if no rain is predicted. Save the largest garlic heads for planting next year Garlic does best in absolute darkness at 35-40 F
  • Skin should be very firm when harvested and after curing Cook any that show signs of decay
  • Prep by cutting tops to ½” and rubbing off excess soil. Let dry if moist. Single layer in gallon freezer bags. Stackable.
  • Fruits kept more than 1 year; vegetables after 18 months
  • It’s that water loss that effects the texture of frozen foods that have thawed. High water foods, zucchini and melons, are good examples of how mushy things can get. The quicker you can freeze the food the smaller the ice crystals that will form. The enzymes that cause food to rot, turn brown and lose nutrients, are still active unless the food has been blanched to destroy them or treated with citric or ascorbic acid to preserve color.
  • If you’re freezing a large quantity, set the freezer temp to -10 the day before. Limit quantitiy to that amount that will freeze in 24 hours. i.e. 2-3 lbs per cubic foot of freezer space. Fruits kept more than 1 year; vegetables after 18 months Avoid UFO’s; always label and date?
  • You can freeze melons, but the high water content will give you mushy fruit Pears are better canned or dried
  • You can also steam the apple slices or make applesauce. Crush 3 500 mg. uncoated Vit. C tablets in ¼ cup warm water. Pour the solution onto 1 quart of sliced fruit.
  • Sugar/syrup not needed for food safety. Heaviness of the syrup may depend on sweetness of the fruit. A very light 10% syrup = ½ cup of sugar + 4 c. water, medium 30%=1-3/4 c + 4 c. water Heavy is 2-3/4 c. sugar+ 4 c. water.
  • Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color and nutrients; underblanching stimulates enzyme action and is worse than not blanching.
  • If it takes more than 1 minute to bring water back to boil, you’ve added too much veg
  • If it takes more than 1 minute to bring water back to boil, you’ve added too much veg
  • Storage conditions important – cool, dark location Impact of flavor: think of dried apricots or dried onions Fiber and minerals (Iron and potassium) are concentrated
  • Heat and light sensitive nutrients: Vit. C, B vitamins
  • The lower the moisture content the better Berries, cherries, grapes, plums, melons need no pre-treatment. Light colored fruits benefit: apples, apricots, peaches, nectarines
  • Apricots, plums and pears are shown. But apples, cherries and grapes are also good choices
  • Pre-treatment not only preserves color, it also preserves nutrients, esp. Vits A and C
  • Most drying times are approximate. Food dries more quickly at end of drying times so watch closely. To test for dryness, cut a few cooled pieces in half. No visible moisture, stickiness should remain. If folded in half it shouldn’t stick to itself. May be pliable but leathery. Berries should be dried until they rattle when shaken. Conditioning allows the remaining moisture to distribute itself among the pieces., reducing the risk of mold. Take cooled, dried fruit and place loosely in glass or plastic jars. Seal containers and let stand for 7-10 days. Shake the jars daily and check for moisture/condensation. If any signs of condensation, return to the dehydrator for more drying.
  • Note that blanching times for drying may be different than for freezing, usually less time
  • Ready at 120 F You want the veg to retain some heat
  • Grow Your Own, Nevada! Spring 2012: Preserving your harvest

    1. 1. Kerry Seymour, MS, RDWestern Area Nutrition Specialist
    2. 2. What would you liketo learn aboutpreserving foods?
    3. 3. Overview Why preserve foods? Keeper Crops Freezing Drying Canning Resources
    4. 4. Why preserve foods? Keeps foods safe to eat Keeps maximum nutrients Maintains eating quality Flavor Texture Color
    5. 5. Whichever methodused… Harvest produce at its peak Limit holding time Thoroughly wash and trim just prior to processing
    6. 6. How to decide which method to use? Pros and cons Varies by type of produce Effect on nutrients Length of storage
    7. 7. Produce for cold storage/ root cellars Potatoes Onions and garlic Winter squash Beets and carrots
    8. 8. Preparing potatoes Cure for 2 weeks Darkness 50-60 F Good ventilation Cull damaged tubers Pack, cover and store – 35-50 F
    9. 9. Preparing onions and garlic Cure for 2 weeks Onions can cure outside if dry Cool, dark place Cull damaged bulbs Pack and store in dark, dry 35- 45 F
    10. 10. Preparing winter squash Harvest with stem Cure for 10 days at 75-80 F Store in ventilated, low humidity at 35-60 F Check often
    11. 11. Preparing beets and carrotsChoose good keepers Sow late June or July1) Store in the ground Cover with 12-18” straw/leaves2) Refrigerate3) Layered in clean, damp sand
    12. 12. Advantages of preserving by freezing Ease of preparation Easy to process small batches Maintains fresh flavor Retains majority of nutrients
    13. 13. Disadvantages offreezing Need for freezer space Need to pre-treat Texture changes Discoloration of some fruits Decline in quality after time
    14. 14. What happens when a food is frozen? Water in cells expand and cells burst Enzymes remain active
    15. 15. Optimum freezerconditions Rapid chilling to 0 F Minimize fluctuations of temp Use appropriate “freezer quality” storage containers Always label and date
    16. 16. Freezing fruit No treatment needed: Berries Cherries Currants Grapes Rhubarb Plums
    17. 17. Freezing fruit Place whole berries, grapes, halved plums or cut rhubarb on freezer-safe trays. Freeze ‘til solid Package in zip-lock bags
    18. 18. Freezing fruitPre-treat apples, apricots, peaches and nectarines Ascorbic acid ½ tsp. crystals or 3-500 mg. tablets in ¼ c. water/qt of fruit
    19. 19. Freezing fruit Sugar or syrup pack preserves flavor and texture Place fruit in rigid freezer container Add just enough syrup to cover
    20. 20. Freezing fruit pie fillings Make preferred recipe Preferred thickener: tapioca or tapioca flour Freeze in foil lined metal pie pan, zip-lock bags or rigid containers Thaw just enough to spread in pie shell
    21. 21. Freezing veggies Harvest as close to processing time as possible Wash and drain before shelling or trimming Wash again!
    22. 22. Blanching veggies Blanching: scalding veggies in boiling water or steaming Retains color, flavor and texture Blanching time is specific to each vegetable
    23. 23. Blanching veggies 1 gallon water/pound of veg Add veg to boiling water Cover and bring back to boil Start counting blanching time Drain; immerse in cold water
    24. 24. Steam Blanching Preferred for broccoli, pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potatoes Bring 1-2” water to a boil Add veg to steamer basket in single layer Cover and immediately start counting blanching time
    25. 25. Freezing veggies Drain thoroughly Dry pack: Pack, leave headroom, seal Tray pack: spread in single layer on freezer safe tray Freeze firm Package leaving no head space
    26. 26. Drying veggies:Advantages  Storage convenience  Intensifies flavor  Concentrates certain nutrients  Quality maintained for ~1 year
    27. 27. Disadvantages of drying Loss of certain nutrients Need to pre-treat Discoloration of some foods
    28. 28. Drying options Solar Solar oven Oven Dehydrator
    29. 29. Drying fruit Suitability for drying varies Uniform slices and pieces Whole fruits need to be “checked” Need for pre-treatment varies
    30. 30. Drying fruit Best choices for drying:
    31. 31. Pre-treatmentApples, apricots, peaches, pears Sulfuring or sulfite dip Ascorbic acid Ascorbic acid mixtures Fruit juice dip Honey dip
    32. 32. Drying the fruit Place uniform pieces of fruit in single layer, not touching Follow directions for method and fruit Test for dryness Condition Package, label and store
    33. 33. Drying veggies Suitability for drying varies Prepare only as much as can be dried at one time Uniform slices and pieces Blanching required for most(not onions, peppers, mushrooms)
    34. 34. Best choices for drying Beets (cooked) carrots Corn garlic Horseradish mushrooms Onions parsnips Peppers potatoes
    35. 35. Drying veggies After blanching, dip briefly in cool water Drain onto drying trays Arrange in single layer Wipe excess water underneath tray Place in dehydrator
    36. 36. Drying veggies Process for recommended time Check frequently toward the end Dry until crisp and brittle Package, label and storeTip: Avoid drying strong flavored veggies with other foods
    37. 37. Books Putting Food By - Stephen Schmidt and Janet Greene So Easy to Preserve – Coop. Extension U. of GA The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest - Carol Costenbader
    38. 38. Resources National Center for Home Food Preservation University of Minnesota Extension ood-safety/preserving/freezing/
    39. 39. Questions?
    40. 40. Contact Information Kerry Seymour, MS, RDEmail: Phone: (775) 784-4848
    41. 41. Thank You!