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Reduce Food Waste with Vegetable Preservation

Reduce Food Waste with Vegetable Preservation

As the warmth of summer sun nourishes our veggies it is often a time of abundance of fresh vegetables in our gardens and markets. It is the perfect time to consider how we can extend the joy of summer's harvest throughout the year. Not only does preserving vegetables allow us to enjoy their flavours and nutrients year-round, but it also helps to reduce food waste. Here are a few key methods of preserving vegetables.

Freezing is perhaps the easiest method of preserving summer vegetables. Whether you're dealing with surplus courgettes or a bumper crop of capsicums, freezing allows you to lock in freshness and flavour with minimal effort. To freeze vegetables, blanch them briefly in boiling water to halt enzyme activity, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, pack the vegetables into airtight containers or freezer bags and store them in the freezer. From sliced squash for stir-fries to diced tomatoes for pasta sauces, frozen vegetables offer endless possibilities for quick and convenient meals.

Pickling transforms ordinary vegetables into tangy, flavourful treats. By submerging vegetables in a brine of vinegar, water, salt, and spices, we can create pickles that are both delicious and long-lasting. Cucumbers are perhaps the most famous pickling candidate, but don't overlook other vegetables like carrots, beets, and green beans. Homemade pickles add a burst of flavour to sandwiches, salads, and charcuterie boards, making them a pantry staple worth mastering.

Drying is a method of preservation that removes moisture from vegetables, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and mould. While it requires a bit more time and patience than other methods, drying vegetables can yield satisfying results. Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are particularly well-suited to drying, as their concentrated flavours intensify during the process. You can use your oven on its lowest setting or use a dehydrator (borrow one, as they are super helpful but not needed for most of the year) to create crispy kale chips, dried vegetables offer a shelf-stable option for snacking and cooking.

Fermentation is a form of preservation that harnesses the power of beneficial bacteria to transform vegetables into tangy, probiotic-rich delights. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled vegetables are all examples of fermented foods. To ferment vegetables, simply submerge them in a brine of saltwater and allow the naturally occurring bacteria to work their magic. Fermented vegetables not only have a long shelf life but also boast a unique depth of flavour that can elevate any meal.

By preserving summer vegetables, we not only ensure a steady supply of nutritious ingredients year-round but also honour the hard work you or commercial growers have put into the garden.

Tip Tip: Regardless of your preserving method, make sure you always use sterilized jars and store your preserves in a cool dark location. 

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