Pickling and fermenting
Gardeners have been preserving for millennia now. You can pickle with vinegar and ferment with salt, keep your vegetables in big pieces or slice them up fine. Among the vegetables that lend themselves best to preserves are radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, green and yellow beans, hot peppers and onions. Asparagus also preserves well, but don’t expect a harvest the first year.
Sauces, jams, jellies and cordials
Berries (including straw-, rasp-, black- and blue-, not to mention elderberries and currants) are classic jam and cordial material, but they’re just the beginning. Consider onion for marmalade, basil or arugula for pesto and mint for syrup. Jellies and chutneys can also be made from rhubarb, grapes and hot and sweet peppers. And don’t forget tomatoes for sauce or ketchup.
Cellaring and storing
An old technique that is being brought back by chefs such as Magnus Nilsson of Faviken in Sweden, cellaring involves harvesting vegetables (often roots) at the beginning of autumn, cutting off the leaves and, basically, burying them in sand in a cool, dark place. Storing is less involved: Just remove any greens and keep veggies at the back of your refrigerator. Prime candidates include beets, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, turnips, rutabagas and potatoes.
You don’t need a food dehydrator to extract the moisture from mushrooms (make sure yours are safe!), tomatoes (great on pizzas) and all manner of herbs: Try oven drying or simply leaving produce out in a thin layer on a hot day.
Think you have to get everything out of the ground before it freezes? Think again. Crops such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, leeks, spinach and sorrel can not only survive a frost, but may even become sweeter and tastier under a layer of it. And how amazing to have fresh produce in the dark days of November.
Too good to save
Don’t wait to devour produce such as sweet peas, baby carrots, eggplant, melon, zucchini flowers and other edible blooms such as nasturtiums. They’re at their most perfect when you pluck them from the ground.
Look for Globe Style’s special harvest issue, complete with recipes for some of the techniques above, this fall.
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