For most of you long time gardeners this post will be old hat for you. When you have gardened for a long time you learn how to store what you have grown and eating from the garden every day of the year is quite easy. But for those of you just starting out on your garden adventures here’s a look at what we have stored for the winter, fresh, canned, and frozen! Our different storage options combined with our cool and cold season gardens mean we eat something from the garden almost every day of the year!!
Fresh Items in Storage
Lets start with the fresh un-preserved foods we have in storage:
Potatoes – In a book I once read it said if you ever want a chance of providing most of your own vegetables for your family then you have to learn to grow A LOT of potatoes. We started out with about 150 pounds of potatoes in storage this year. We don’t have a root cellar so we are storing them in coolers in the garage. This is our first year storing them this way and it’s not working out as well as we had hoped. We have already seen a little mildew on a few so we have opened the lids and are keeping them in a dark corner. Next year I think I’m going to build a nice big wooden crate for them that will allow more air flow. We have about 100 pounds left and that should last us a few more months.
Onions – We ended up with over 50 pounds between the two varieties we grew. These too have been moved out to the garage where it is cooler. The Candy onions are not a real long storing onion so we maybe only have a month or two left before we will have to cut these up and move them to the freezer. The copra on the other hand should last until May!
Green Tomatoes – We also still have around 20 pounds of tomatoes ripening in the garage. About 1/2 of them are really ready to eat, so if we don’t use them up soon we will put them in the freezer. The others will sit and slowly ripen over the next month or so. None of these are as tasty as vine ripened but they are still garden grown!
Apples – We have a big box of Fuji apples that we bought from a local farmer. We keep these out in the garage where it’s cool as well. Most of these will be eaten fresh but they are also there so we can make a nice homemade apple pie or two for Thanksgiving.
We don’t do a lot of canning. We have a pressure cooker but we really hate using it. Most of what we can, we do in the water bath canner.
Pickles – Our cucumber harvest was pretty small this year so we didn’t can many pickles, in fact we only did a half batch and most of them are already gone, but we still have a few.
Beets – We also pickled beets this year and we have 5 bottles of them left. They turned out AWESOME so I don’t expect they will last much longer as Valerie and I are eating them like crazy. Next year we are doing a ton more.
Tomatoes – Most of our canning efforts went to tomatoes. We ended up with 65 quarts this year which is our best year yet. It will feel good to not have to ration bottles of tomatoes all winter. We will use these in soups, casseroles, and sauces until we have fresh tomatoes again in July.
We like to freeze veggies and fruits. Yes I know if the zombie apocalypse ever happens we won’t have a freezer but we know how to can, we just prefer freezing as it preserves the flavor and nutrients better.
Peaches – These also came from our local farmer and we have 16 quart bags we use for pies, cobblers and breakfast toppings.
Tomatoes – This is something new for us this year. We read about freezing tomatoes on several blogs and as the season ended this year and we were sick and tired of canning tomatoes we decided to give this a try. We have 5 gallon sized bags that we will use in soups and as salsa.
Green Peppers – We ended up with 3 gallon sized bags for the year, these will be used to flavor all kinds of dishes and will last over a year in the freezer
Peas – We had a ton of peas this year. 2 gallons from the garden and another 2 that we bought again for our favorite local farmer, who our oldest daughter works for.
Broccoli – This spring/summer was one of our best years ever for broccoli. The over abundance of broccoli allowed us to freeze a bunch this year. We have 3 gallon bags total.
Strawberries – It was a good year for strawberries, we have 3 gallon sized bags in the freezer -these will be used for yogurt toppings, smoothies and breakfast all winter long. We would normally have that many bags of raspberries too but with the move, our new patch just produced a little this year.
Pumpkin Seeds – We have a few pints of seeds and we will add about that many more when we use up the rest of the pumpkins.
Corn on the cob – We love corn on the cob and have been freezing it for 5 years now. This year we are trying something different, we froze them with the husks still on. This is supposed to keep them fresher and tastier so we will see how it does. We have 10 bags of 4 ears each.
Sugar Peas – We have a gallon bag of these to add to stir fries all year
Melons – A lot of folks think we are weird to freeze melons, but they really turn out good. Valerie and the kids eat them partially thawed as a snack and we also use them to flavor smoothies.
Summer Squash – We also always freeze a gallon or two of what ever summer squash we’ve grown. Zucchini, patty pan, or yellow squash always make a great addition to our winter soups
And of course we also have the winter cold frames where we grow lettuce, carrots, spinach, chard and other greens all winter long!!
So there you have it! Our cupboards and freezer are packed full for the winter and now we can relax and enjoy the bounty of the garden all winter long!