Preserving Your Harvest for Winter Delights

Welcome, fellow garden lovers, to the season of growth and renewal as spring descends upon us!

As the vibrant colors of spring reappear in gardens, it's time to tend to your seedlings, prepare your soil, and watch your plants grow into a bountiful harvest by summer.

Meanwhile, you can also plan for winter and preserve some of your harvest early. Let’s delve into a few techniques that will keep your harvest fresh longer to be enjoyed in winter and beyond.  

Assess your harvest

Before delving into preservation techniques, it's important to assess your harvest first. Make sure to get rid of any damaged or spoiled produce, as they speed up the decay of the rest of your harvest. Select only the best for storage, provided that they are ripe but not overripe. 

Selecting good-quality produce also lowers the risk of spoilage during preservation, allowing for the best results in preserving your crops during the winter months.

Curing your crops

Curing is one of the most basic forms of harvest preservation. This process toughens the skin, and prolongs the shelf life of vegetables. Crops like winter squash and pumpkins are typically cured in a warm and dry area for several weeks. Make sure your vegetables are fully ripe and given enough time to develop a tough skin before storage. 

Due to their toughened skin, cured vegetables can last for long periods of time in most conditions. They last the longest in cool, humid environments with limited natural light. Ideal storage spaces include garages and basements as they are similar to root cellars. 


Dehydration is one technique for preserving garden harvests | Vego Garden

Since ancient times, people understood that dehydration will prevent food from rotting. Dehydration is the most effective way to preserve and store fruits and vegetables like peppers or mushrooms at room temperature.

Depending on where you live and your home environment, simply slice your fruits or veggies, and leave them in the sun for a day or two for dehydration to set in.

You can also use an oven or electric food dehydrator to get the job done. Be sure to seal your dehydrated produce in an airtight container to prevent moisture from reentering. In this state, dehydrated vegetables can be stored indefinitely.

Fermenting vegetables

Fermenting or pickling is a form of preserving garden goodies | Vego Garden

Fermentation is a unique preservation method in that it doesn’t prevent bacteria growth, but takes advantage of it instead. This process allows safe Lactobacillus bacteria to break down vegetables, and in doing so creates an acidic environment that is uninhabitable for other bacteria. 

To start fermenting, just create an environment that allows the bacteria to thrive. As opposed to other harmful bacteria, Lactobacillus tolerates salt well - so simply put your produce into brine solution that is 2 to 5% salt to encourage their growth. 

A simple method for fermenting vegetables is to coat them in salt and press into a glass jar, squeezing out moisture until it is on top of the vegetables. Let it ferment until the vegetables taste sour enough, and keep it submerged in water throughout the fermentation process to prevent fungi and unwanted bacteria from setting in. 

Winter storage tips 

Once you have chosen your preferred preservation method, here are some general tips to follow for storing your winter crops. 

  • Check your stored produce regularly for spoilage and get rid of decaying items promptly.
  • Use older items first to prevent waste.
  • Make sure to store your fruits and vegetables separately, as they emit different gasses that can lead to rotting.
  • Keep a record of what you have in storage so you can find them easily when needed.

By following these simple protocols, you will continue to enjoy the abundant flavors of your garden throughout the winter months.  

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