Preserving fall produce

Gardens have not quite given up producing – know the best way to preserve fall’s produce safely.

Gardens have not quite given up producing this year. If you don’t have a garden, many farmers markets are still providing wonderful choices of fall produce. Many hearty vegetables can be enjoyed fresh, cooked fresh or preserved. The easiest way to preserve these delicious fall treats is by freezing them. Of course some food preservation methods may be applied as well to some varieties.

Carrots

Carrots can be canned, pickled or frozen to enjoy in the months ahead. If you decide to can your carrots, make sure you pressure can them, they are a low acid food and must be processed in a pressure canner to ensure a safe product. Sliced or diced carrots may be hot or raw packed and then processed for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds of pressure or in a weighted –gauge pressure canner at ten pounds of pressure. If you choose to pickle your carrots, check with a research tested recipe for proper brine proportions and processing times. Blanching and freezing carrots involves cleaning the carrots, and blanching for five minutes if left whole, two minutes if sliced or diced. Cool immediately in ice water, drain, and package leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, date and freeze your packages.

Broccoli

Broccoli can be frozen, it is not recommended for canning. To freeze broccoli, clean, blanch in boiling water for three minutes, cool in ice water for the same amount of time. Drain well, package leaving no headspace or air gaps. Seal, date and freeze your packages.

Winter Squash or Pumpkin

Winter Squash can be canned in one-inch cubes or frozen. To can squash or pumpkin remember it cannot be home canned in a pureed form, it is too dense to safely process. Winter squash or pumpkin must also be processed in a pressure canner because they are low acid foods. To can winter squash or pumpkin, wash; remove seeds, cut into one-inch wide slices, and peel. Cut flesh into one-inch cubes. Boil in water for two minutes, do not mash. Fill jars with cubes and cooking liquid. Process 55 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a weighted-gauge pressure canner at ten pounds of pressure. To freeze winter squash or pumpkin, cook until soft in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit after poking sides with fork or knife. Slice open, remove seeds and strings. Remove pulp from rind and mash. Cool, package, seal, date and freeze.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed fresh, roasted or pickled or frozen. To prepare oven roasted Brussels sprouts, trim one to two pounds of Brussels sprouts, wash and pat dry. Place into a large resalable plastic bag with three tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Seal tightly and shake to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and place into a 400 degrees F oven, bake 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every five to seven minutes to prevent burning. To pickle Brussels sprouts, utilize a research tested recipe for proper proportioned brine and correct processing times. Blanching and freezing is easily done by removing coarse outer leaves, washing thoroughly. Sort Brussels sprouts by size. Blanch in boiling water, small heads three minutes, medium heads four minutes and large heads five minutes. Cool in ice water for the same amount of time spent in boiling water. Drain well, package, being sure to remove all air, seal and freeze.

Michigan State University Extension recommends utilizing research tested recipes when preserving produce, resources such as Michigan Fresh and the National Center for Home Food Preservation serve as reliable resources. Enjoy your fall produce, either now as you pick it or later in the chilly months.

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