How To Keep Your Veggies Fresh – Fermentation, Freezing, and Dehydrating Method

We are now in the winter, which means the cold season, so only a few vegetables are available to grow in your garden. It may seem disheartening, but no need to lose hope. We can always store and preserve veggies for later use. The question is, how to keep your veggies fresh?

Every year, before going towards the winter, I always make sure that I preserve my veggies so I can use them in the later season. With the right preservation techniques, you can give your immune system a boost and improve your overall health – preserving most of the nutritional value.

I have 3 preservation techniques (my favorite is the first one) that I will share with you today:

  1. Fermenting Vegetables: A tasty journey that’s good for gut health.
  2. Freezing your Vegetables: A quick method to lock in the freshness.
  3. Dehydrating Vegetables: A fun and easy way to make your veggies last.

The Magic of Fermentation

You might wonder, “What’s the secret recipe?” Well, the key ingredient is none other than salt. We need about 3-5% of this salt based on the total weight of our vegetables. You can use any unprocessed salt, but the pink Himalayan variety gives an extra kick.

Follow this easy guide:

  • Dissolve your salt at the bottom of a jar by mixing it with filtered or unchlorinated water.
  • Now we get to the fun part! Peel your fresh veggies and cut them into small pieces.
  • Pack the vegetable pieces into your jar.
  • Fill the jar with more water until your veggies are completely submerged.
  • To ensure everything stays under the water, use a larger vegetable (like a cabbage leaf) or any kind of weight to keep the vegetables submerged.
  • The final touch – you have to ‘burp’ (open) your jar daily to avoid the build-up of CO2.

The Magic of Fermentation

How Long Should I Ferment My Vegetables?

This is one of the most asked questions. The answer? It’s really up to your taste buds! You can ferment them for a few weeks or even up to several months depending on the flavor intensity you’re after.

Chill Out: Your Friendly Guide to Freezing Vegetables

Whether you’ve just had a huge harvest from your garden or just getting ready for the next season, freezing is a fantastic way to make sure no veggies go to waste.

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  • Prep those veggies. Give them a good rinse in cold water to get rid of any dirt or little creepy crawlies. You can also chop them according to your liking.
  • Boil the veggies for a short period then immediately dunk them in ice water. This stops the cooking process and helps the vegetables keep their delightful color, flavors, and texture after freezing. (a.k.a blanching)
  • Tap Dry your veggies. This step is crucial – the dryer your veggies, the better they’ll freeze.
  • Pack your vegetables in freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Leave a small space (about 1/2 inch) at the top for expansion during freezing.
  • Place your baggies or containers on a flat surface in the coldest part of your freezer.

Bonus Tips about Freezing Your Veggies

Not every vegetable needs blanching. Leafy greens, for instance, can skip this step. While some vegetables, like corn and peas, can be frozen just as they are. Just give them a good wash, remove their outer layers, and into the freezer they go! Remember that your frozen vegetables will last about 6-12 months in the freezer. But try to use them within the first few months for the best quality.

How to Dehydrate Vegetables At Home

This simple process not only extends the life of your favorite greens but also packs them with a flavor punch. Whether you’re making homemade seasoning, lightweight hiking snacks, or just cutting down on food waste, dehydrating veggies is a super way to go!

Here’s the process:

  • Select the freshest and most vibrant vegetables. Peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and those lush leafy greens are excellent choices.
  • Wash them thoroughly and dry. To ensure a smooth drying process, cut them into uniform, thin pieces.
  • If you have a dehydrator handy, that’s better! Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for temperature and drying times. If not, no worries! Your trusty oven can get the job done just as well. Keep the door slightly open using a wooden spoon and set it to the lowest possible temperature (around 52°C)
  • Arrange your prepped veggies on dehydrator trays or oven-safe baking sheets. Do not overlap them.
  • Fire up the dehydrator or oven. The drying process can vary vastly, anywhere from 4 to 12+ hours, depending on the type and size of the vegetable and the drying method used. To ensure even drying, rotate the trays from time to time.
  • Your vegetables are ready when completely dry and brittle. If they snap easily when broken, voila, you’ve done well! But be careful not to over-dry them, or they can turn tough and chewy.
  • Once they’re cool, store your dehydrated treats in airtight containers in a cool, dark, and dry place. If stored well, they can last several months to a year.

What You Need To Know When Dehydrating Your Veggies

Consider using mesh screens for smaller vegetables or leafy greens. This helps improve air circulation. Also, don’t forget to label your containers with the vegetable type and date for easy identification. And here’s the fun part – you can easily rehydrate your dehydrated vegetables by soaking them in water for several minutes. They’re now ready to be used in your favorite recipes!

So there you have it, gardeners! Three effective, fun, and healthy ways to store your vegetables during the cold (and even other) season. Enjoy the process and relish the satisfaction that comes with preserving your own food. Talk about a delicious way to be self-sufficient and healthy!