Stock Up The Pantry With Your Seed Pantry Crops!
It’s easy to get a little carried away when sowing your veg seeds and now you’ve got a wonderful bumper crop to deal with! If, like us, you’ve ended up with so much Courgette that the thought of another Ratatouille doesn’t tickle your taste buds, it might be time to turn them into something different!
There’s plenty of ways to preserve your produce if you can’t use them right away, and it’s really satisfying to see your belly, cupboards and freezer stocked up with home-grown produce for the winter months. Here’s a round up of the ways to store your excess bounty.
Quick and easy, freezing your produce in Tupperware or bags is great way to store even small quantities. Simply blanch or steam your crop, which helps to kill bacteria and maintain the vitamin content, allow to cool and bag up. Label your freezer-bags with the date and you’re ready to freeze! Some vegetables, like tomatoes and french beans can even be frozen after picking after just a good rinse.
Suitable crops: Root veg, onions, sweetcorn, tomatoes, courgette, all types of beans, brassicas, soft fruits and tree fruits (on their own or in sugar or syrup) and herbs too!
Britain isn’t exactly known for it’s tropical climate, but whilst drying in the sun might not be feasible, the drying process is still easy to do indoors. If you’re a seasoned Grow Your Own-er then you might even consider buying a dehydrator!
How to do it
Apples: Core and slice into rings and soak in slightly salted water (1tsp of salt to 1litre of water) to prevent them from browning. Dry the rings and thread them on a string, hang them indoors, well spaced, for 3-5 days. You can also dry Chillies or Mushrooms this way, although it may take a little longer.
Tomatoes: Cut in half, cover with a little salt and dry in a cool oven. Store in air-tight containers or olive oil (you can add a little dried Basil or Oregano).
Peas and beans: Blanch or steam before rinsing in cold water. Lay on a clean tea towel and dab off any excess moisture, dry on trays in a cool oven or airing cupboard until hard. Allow to cool before packing into air-tight containers and store in a cool, dry place.
Suitable crops: Onions, tomatoes, chillies, mushrooms, apples, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries … the list goes on, I’ve even been known to make cucumber crisps this way.
Chutneys and Pickles
Sugar and spice and all things nice, who doesn’t relish a little chutney with cheese and crackers? This classic preserving method is a great way to store onion, cabbage, beetroot, cucumber or any other random assortment of surplus you might have – even plums and pears make a great addition!
How to do it – Any-Veg Chutney
1kg seasonal fruit or vegetables, diced into 1cm cubes
500g cooking or eating apples, peeled and diced
250g onions, peeled and diced
375ml white wine (or cider) vinegar
250g light soft brown sugar
250g dried fruit, chopped
1-3 tsp dried chilli flakes (or ginger)
1/2 tsp salt
Place the vegetables and fresh fruit into a large pan, with the dried fruit and sugar. Add the vinegar and 250ml water to the pan with the chilli/ginger and salt.
Heat the mixture gently, stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved before slowly bringing to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 hours, stirring regularly so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. When the chutney is rich, thick and reduced it is ready (you can test this by dragging a wooden spoon through the mixture: it should part enough to reveal the base of the pan). If it seems a little dry before this stage, add a little boiling water. Allow to cool a little.
Pot the chutney while warm into sterilised jars. Seal with plastic-coated screw-top lids and leave to mature for at least 2 weeks before using.
Flavoured Oils and Vinegars
Used as salad dressings or flavourings for steamed puddings, flavouring vinegar with fruit, vegetables or herbs is a delightful and simple way of using up small quantities of surplus garden produce. Fruit, vegetables or herbs are steeped in vinegar over a period before straining the liquid and heating with sugar. Even Violas, Lavender and Rose petals can be used to add a delicate flavour.
Suitable Crops: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, apples or vegetables such as cucumber, celery, horseradish, peppers, Chillies, garlic, mint, thyme, tarragon, basil, marjoram (singly or in combination).
How to do it
For Herbs, half fill a 1L jar with fresh herb leaves, or clean petals (for Violas, Lavender or Rose flavours) and top up your jar with white wine vinegar. For Fruits and vegetables, use roughly 500g to every 600ml of vinegar with the exception of Garlic or Chilli where you should use around 50g.
Cover and allow the mixture to steep for 7-10 days in the fridge. Stir or shake each day. Herb and Vegetable vinegar can then be strained into a bottle and sealed, ready to use. You can even mix the vinegar with a little oil for a richer dressing. For Fruit vinegar, after steeping, strain the mixture and place the liquid into a pan with 350g of sugar.
Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool a little, then bottle and seal into sterilised jars.
So there you have it – a rough and ready guide to reap the rewards of your Grow Club success! We’d love to hear about your GYO journey – please tag us in your success stories (and heroic failures too!) on Instagram and Facebook.
Seed Pantry Team 🌼
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