At harvest time there is an abundance of local fruit and vegetables – often too much to eat fresh. That’s why it makes sense to preserve it and enjoy it later. Advantage over bought canned food: The homemade products are free of additives and only had to be transported over short distances.
Provisions from the jar: boil down
Boiling is a common method of preserving. Cherries, pears and peaches, for example, are suitable for this, but also beetroot, peas, beans, carrots or tomatoes. If you don’t have a special preserving pot, you can use the oven: First, rinse the preserving jars with boiling water or place them in the oven at 140 degrees for about ten minutes to sterilize them.
Cook in the oven at 180 degrees
If necessary, peel the vegetables or fruit, wash them, cut them into pieces of the same size and put them in the glasses. Fill with cold water to just below the brim. Alternatively, you can preserve vegetables with a decoction of salt and herbs, fruit with sugared water. Clean the edges of the glass with a clean cloth. Close the jars tightly, fill a dripping pan with water and place the jars in it. Place in the oven on the lowest shelf and heat up to around 180 degrees. Turn off the oven when the liquid in the jars begins to bubble.
Leave the jars in the closed oven for about 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Stored in a cool and dark place, preserves can be kept for several months.
Preserve jam, chutney and compote
Potting is a little quicker. Fruit is mainly boiled first and then filled into sterile glasses. This method is suitable for chutneys and jams, jellies and compotes.
Pickles: pickle vegetables
Sour pickling is particularly easy. A suitable base stock is a mixture of one part vinegar, two parts water, sugar (about 20 g for 1 liter of water), salt (about 30 g for 1 liter of water, do not use iodized salt!) and spices and herbs to taste .
Place the chopped raw vegetables in sterilized jars and fill up with the hot liquid. Very firm vegetables can be pre-cooked. Important: completely cover the vegetables with the stock. Close the jars tightly, leave to cool and let the vegetables mature in a dark, dry place for a few weeks. It lasts a good two months. After opening, keep in the refrigerator and consume soon. The pickles taste good with sandwiches, fondue or raclette.
Very healthy: ferment
Lactic pickling, also known as fermentation, must be distinguished from sour pickling. It is well suited for all firm vegetables such as cabbage (sauerkraut), cucumbers, carrots, beans, pumpkin or peppers. Vital substances are largely spared. The vitamin C content even increases and vitamin B12 is produced. Special fermentation pots are suitable for pickling in lactic acid, and screw-top jars or Weck jars are also suitable for smaller quantities.
Chop or slice the vegetables, mix in a bowl with salt (about two to five percent of the total amount) and press vigorously with a tamper until enough liquid has escaped. Then layer in a clean glass. Make sure that the vegetables remain under the brine and do not come into contact with oxygen. If there is not enough liquid, fill up with boiled salt solution (20 to 30 g salt to 1 l water). Close the jar, but not too tightly, as the fermentation will release gases that need to escape.
The lactic acid bacteria now convert the sugar into lactic acid. Mold and other undesirable bacteria cannot exist in the acidic environment. The ideal temperature for this fermentation process is 20 degrees for the first few days. Then store in a cooler place.
An ancient process: drying
Drying or desiccation is the oldest method of preserving food. Many types of fruit are suitable, such as apples, apricots or plums, but also tomatoes, mushrooms and Herbs. Fruits and vegetables should first be cleaned thoroughly, if necessary peeled and pitted and cut into pieces.
Drying in a convection oven works very well: mushrooms and herbs need a temperature of around 50 degrees, fruit 50 to 70 and vegetables around 80 degrees. If you don’t have a convection oven, you can hold the oven flap slightly open with a wooden spoon. Depending on the size, thickness and water content of the fruit, drying takes between six and twelve hours, and three to four hours for herbs. Fruits, for example, are ready when they feel leathery and bend.
Practical for drying: dehydrators
You can save energy with special electric dehydrators. They keep the selected temperature very constant for hours and give off less heat to the room air. Since they usually consist of several levels, different types of fruit and vegetables can be dried at the same time.
Airtight storage cans and jars or foil bags are suitable for storing dried fruit and vegetables.
Fresh in the cold: freezing
The easiest and most popular method of preservation is freezing. To do this, vegetables should first be blanched, i.e. briefly placed in boiling water and then immersed in ice water so that they retain their natural color. Depending on the hardness and size of the vegetables, the cooking times are between two (peas, peppers) and seven minutes (artichokes, whole carrots).
Washed and chopped herbs can be frozen straight away. With delicate fruit such as strawberries or raspberries, it is advisable to place the individual fruits on a tray and freeze them before placing them in a freezer bag. That way they don’t stick together later. At temperatures of at least minus 18 degrees, fruit and vegetables will keep for about a year. If they are vacuumed beforehand, the shelf life is significantly extended.
In a vacuum: vacuuming
The method of storing food in a vacuum, i.e. in an air-free space, is relatively new. Fresh fruit, vegetables or meat are “shrink-wrapped” in plastic bags after a vacuum sealer has completely sucked the air out of the bag. Soft fruits like berries should be frozen before vacuum packing, while gas-forming varieties like cabbage, peas and beans should be blanched.
The vacuum-packed food can either be stored in the refrigerator, where it lasts three to four times longer than simply wrapped food, or it can be frozen.