Organizing the Crop Harvest
We are harvesting daily! Every day we go out to the garden to harvest ripe fruit and vegetables. Currently, we are harvesting pears, peaches, figs, peppers, okra, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, beets, and bell peppers.We take our Truper wheelbarrow out to fill up with our daily harvest. Yes, we are filling a wheelbarrow almost daily!
It's great to have a large harvest, but what to do with the all the crops once we get them in the kitchen? We need to organize and store them until we can actually preserve them. A good tool for that is large plastic containers, so that you can organize the food by categories of the name of the crop. For example, one plastic bin for all the squash and another for all the tomatoes. Organizing by categories helps you see all of the food, so that you will know the quantity you have on hand. Knowing that makes it easier to process the food for preservation. Another reason to categorize the food is that heavy items such as squash can sometimes flatten softer foods such as tomatoes.
|Categorize the Harvest|
Another important item in the food harvest is a place to store all the crops until you have a chance to preserve them. Food last longer in a cool dry environment. I have an extra refrigerator that I use to help me in storing the food until I can preserve or eat it all. If you don't have an extra refrigerator, make sure to clean out your refrigerator to free up some space for your harvest bounty. Also you may have to can, freeze, pickle, or dehydrate in smaller quantities to use up your harvest before they spoil.
To help in preserving and using up my harvest, I decide what I need for winter use. For example, I know I want to have some pear wine and that will take about 30 pounds of pears. So I will wash the pears when they are ripe and freeze them to make pear wine later in the month. I also know that I will need pears to make pies and turnovers. I put some pears on the counter to process into pear pie filling for the freezer later on in the evening. I know I will also want dehydrated pears to snack on in the winter, so I immediately slice up pears and place on my counter top dehydrator.
|Canning Tomatoes Outside over Open Fire|
To help food preservation to go smoother, you will need to have your supplies on hand. You will need to have a dehydrator out and ready to go. You will also need to have clean containers ready to be filled, such as canning jars and freezer bags. If you a vacuum sealer, you need that out and on the kitchen counter as well. You will need large plastic bowls, peelers, knives, and cutting boards within easy reach to process foods. You will also need large pots and colanders for water blanching. You will need your water bath container and your pressure container for canning in good working order.
If your kitchen is like mine, during summer harvest it is over filled with summer's bounty. It is busy dehydrating, water blanching, canning, making jams, filling freezer bags, and wine fermenting in a corner. Although it feels overwhelming at times, it is a true blessing to have food to preserve and eat that you have grown in your own garden.
Also, to help use up summer's bounty you can make a double batch of a recipe and freeze half of it for an easy weekday meal later in the year. For example, make a double batch of fresh from the garden vegetable stir fry. Use half of it for your supper today and freeze the other half for use in October or November. It will be a welcome remembrance of your summer bounty in the fall as well as to help preserve your food for later use!
Have a happy preserving your summer harvest and homesteading day!