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Gardening diary: February

Gardening diary: February

If your crops amount to an abundance of veges and fruit, there are a variety of ways to store your bounty.

February is a month for harvesting and eating home-grown produce, and if you are blessed with the ‘problem’ of having too many veges and fruit, you will want to store any excess.

Freezing

Blanch veges first in boiling salted water followed by a dunk in ice water and then pack in portions in sealable bags, expelling as much air as possible.

Saucing

Boil or steam-clean jars and lids for 10 minutes before filling with your hot sauce right to the top to minimise air in the jar.

Pickling

As above for jars and filling.

Drying

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, depending on your locale, you can use the sun as your drying source. Use a mesh screen (I use a wooden frame strung with chicken wire). Lay out the vege or fruit on the screen in the sun. Turn produce daily. Wash veges or fruit first in a solution of sodium meta-bisulphite or Camden tablets (available from home brew shops) to retard fungal growth.

Preserving

For jams and chutneys, sterilise jars. The high sugar content of these tends to act as a natural preservative. Store in the fridge once opened.

Earthing

Using either dry earth or sand, many root crops can be stored buried for several months.

Cold-storing

Wrap produce individually in glossy magazine or greaseproof paper and place in a single layer in a cardboard box or shelf in a cool, dark and dry room such as a basement or at the back of the garage. Onions and garlic can be plaited and hung up.

Always label or keep a record of your stored food, eating the oldest first.




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