There is always some urgency to stock up on winter storage crops in October while they are abundant and available. Be ready ahead of time! Learn how to harvest then store your fall produce the right way, right now.
To get vegetables with the best flavor, it’s important to know when to harvest them at the right time. Here are some signs that your favorite veggies are at their freshest:
Knowing how to store is essential for long-lasting, quality produce. Different vegetables need different temperatures and moisture levels to stay fresh, which means that some vegetables will stay better in your fridge better than others. What is the best way that those veggies last in the fridge? Canning in jars. Not only is product preservation accomplished in canning jars, but…Picked relishes, anyone? Or, maybe even, salad in a jar?
Some precursory, general harvest storage tips:
Wash & Chop.
More than ever, a good cleaning of everything is vital. But even more, washing your produce beforehand of storage and cooking helps to make the cooking process quicker and easier. You should clean and prep your fall veggies as soon as you get home. Consider apple cider vinegar solutions, lemon juice, or even specially-designed produce washes to get the job done sufficiently. Also, performing the cleaning process with a brush is recommended to really remove the dirt.
Now, chopping is sort of like an inherited gift for some, and very much so a practiced skill for the rest of us. Pre-chopping your produce even further accelerates the food prep and cleanup time. Here are tips on how to chop up some of the most popular fall harvest items:
Greens like Kale: De-stem the bundle and slice it into a chiffonade.
Radishes: Slice into thin disks on the mandoline and store them in a glass food storage container submerged in icy-cold water that will preserve the crunchiness or crispness of the crop for up to 10 days. Refresh the water every few days. To make them last in the fridge for two weeks or more, pickle them in a heated mixture of red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, water, bay leaf, and mustard seed.
How to Chop Up Broccoli: Pull or cut away any leaves from the stalk and hold it down on a cutting board with your non-dominant hand. Cut away the outer layer of florets. Continue cutting off the rest of the florets. Halve or quarter the larger florets into smaller pieces if needed, and cut away the woody outer skin from the stalk.
Carrots: Peel the carrots. Remove the tops first, as that draws moisture from the carrots. Roughly chop them into 1 to 2-inch pieces. This is the cut you’ll use for things like stocks and sauces where the carrots are intended for flavoring, not for consumption. You’ll also use rough chunks if you plan on pureeing them into soup or mashing them. Or, you can go ahead and make smaller dices now for the upcoming stews, soups, sauces, and salads that you’ll be making. If you want to be fancy, you can julienne them for stir-fries and sautés.
Onions: Cut half an inch off the top, then turn the onion to rest on this flat end and slice in half vertically. Remove and discard the skin. Rotate the onion and slice vertically down through the onion, still leaving the root end intact.
Potatoes: Ah, the versatile potato. You can slice it, wedge it, stick it, or cube it. First, you should always cut a flat part to stabilize the potato when you make slices. Slice the potato lengthwise to make even slices. Then stack the slices together and cut lengthwise to make sticks. Then cut them together perpendicularly to make small diced cubes.
Winter Squash (including pumpkins): We all know how tough chopping up tough winter squash can be, so always use a large, sturdy knife. Trim the ends of the squash first. Then cut the squash in half at the neck, if you have a variety like butternut squash. Otherwise, just cube it.
Take Heed to Each Produce Type.
Glass jars are quintessential, archetypal in the food storage department due to their airtight and impermeable design that keeps out leaching. Along with the low chemical reaction rate found in glass, this allows for the greater preservation of food. So dropping your prepped and ready fall harvest in these containers should get the job done. Particularly, Hermes clamp jars can work great because of their easy to open and close construction paired with wide mouth openings for easy product filling and access.
But there are some types of produce that have a bit more special adjustments:
Label your produce in their respective glass jars with a simple strip of masking tape and a marker.
Now, think of your fridge shelves as production lines or like the shelves in a warehouse or store aisle. Put your different produce items in their own designated zones so that you can quickly get to exactly what you need based on your categorization. You’ll know where everything is because you put it in there as so and labeled! Maybe the bottom shelf will be for the harder, heartier crops like the squash while the top shelf will be for your broccoli. Of course, the crisper bins will hold the delicate greens.
And there you have it. Your fall produce is now harvested, cleaned, chopped, prepped, labeled, and ready to go for any of your upcoming fall recipes and Thanksgiving dishes. Happy cooking!