There are plenty of reasons for preserving fruit and veg. You may have got a good deal at the supermarket that you’re unable to use all at once or your own harvest may have been more successful than you predicted, for example. However there’s no need for waste as preserving not only means you have fruit and vegetables available at different times of the year when they might not be in season and allows you to sample familiar foods with a different taste and texture. Learn how to preserve left over vegetables this winter to save money and get more creative with your cooking.
Preserving fruit and veg in the freezer
If you have room in your freezer, this is usually the simplest way to preserve. Berries and cherries respond well to freezing and can often be used still frozen, such as for smoothies or baking. Harder fruits such as apples and pears tend to work best if stewed before freezing.
Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips and squash are also easily frozen, simply blanch them first. The same technique can be used for peas, cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and legumes. Leeks, spinach, aubergines and courgettes can be cooked before freezing. Vegetables cooked into soups, stews or ratatouille also freeze well, while frozen tomato sauce can be a lifesaver on numerous occasions! You can even freeze fresh herbs for a better result than dried.
Freezing is an efficient method of preserving ripe or slightly overripe produce and the results are best eaten within three months of freezing.
Preserving fruit and veg by pickling
Pickling is how to preserve left over vegetables creatively. You can go for a simple vinegar or brine or you can spice up your pickling mixture. You can pickle vegetables separately or in a mixture and use them in salads, sandwiches and with cold meats – they’re also great just for picking at and much healthier than crisps! All you need is a good supply of ingredients, a pan and some clean, sterilised jars.
Pickling is essentially the process of using a salt and/or vinegar mixture to prevent the growth of bacteria. Not only vegetables but also some fruits can be pickled, but the process works best for produce that is mature but not overripe. Like freezing, most pickled produce is best eaten within three to six months.