Extend the life of your quarantine garden

Extend the life of your quarantine garden

Preserve the fruits, vegetables and herbs you grew while in quarantine

  • Have you grown a quarantine garden for fun, out of necessity or to pass the time over the last few months?
  • Consider canning and preserving fruits, veggies and herbs so you can use them this fall and winter.
  • Try out some new pie recipes to satisfy your cravings for sweet and savory comfort foods.

[3 MIN READ]

During the pandemic, you may have taken up a new hobby - gardening. If you’ve been cultivating your green thumb over the past few months by growing vegetables you may be wondering how you can preserve your bountiful harvest. By preserving, canning, drying and freezing, of course!

In most climates and areas of the country, you’ll need to pick all the fruits and vegetables in your garden by the end of September. So, let’s get started!

Read on to learn how you can preserve, can or freeze your fruits, herbs and vegetables this fall to ensure you have healthy and vitamin-packed meals throughout the colder months.

Canning Produce 101

Whether you’ve been growing strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers or squash, you can preserve them for months into the future. There are two types of canning to try: hot water canning and pressure canning.

Hot water canning is used for highly acidic foods with pH values of 4.6 or less. Use hot water canning for tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, fruits and jams. Low-acid foods with pH values above 4.6, such as potatoes, apples, asparagus, kale and Brussels sprouts, require a pressure canner.

You’ll need a few essential canning supplies to get started:

  • Canning jars with lids
  • A ladle for filling
  • A water bath canner for highly acidic foods or a pressure canner for low-acidic foods
  • Jar lifters for removing jars from hot water
  • A clean cloth to wipe down jars

Finding the right canning recipe for your fruits and veggies

You’ll want to follow a tested canning recipe that uses the right weight and measurement for the produce, salt, water and any additional acids (such as lemon juice) to properly preserve your foods. For instructions on how to make a tasty raspberry jam, pickle cucumbers or can tomatoes for your next hearty spaghetti sauce, check out the recipes provided by the National Center for Food Preservation.

Drying and preserving herbs

The herbs in your garden or outdoor planters can easily be dried and used to spice up your meals and flavor your teas throughout the year.

For sturdy herbs like parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme, simply picking them and exposing them to warm, dry air in a well-ventilated space will give you the start you need. For some tender-leaf herbs like basil, oregano, tarragon and mint, you may need to follow additional steps like hanging them upside down or placing them in a brown paper bag to allow a cooler drying area. Avoid placing any herbs in the sun, as it could dry them out too quickly. For guidelines on how to dry the herbs in your garden, you can find instructions here.

And if you have any herbs growing in an outdoor pot that you can’t bear to part with, you can always bring them inside without needing to dry or cut them down. In the colder months, your potted plants can stay safe indoors.

Baking and “freezing down” your garden vegetables

Another option for your fruits and veggies is to make pies and freeze them for later. For your carrots, onions and peas, consider making a chicken pot pie that you can freeze and unthaw for dinner on a cold winter night.

If you have an apple or peach tree in your backyard, consider baking a sweet pie to freeze. Nothing tastes better than a homemade pie shared with family and friends over the holidays.  

Finding ways to stay healthy and safe

With the help of your garden, you can spend your fall and winter enjoying canned jams, fruits and veggies, dried herbs and delicious pies. It’s a great way to extend the life of your fall harvest, and savor delicious foods you’ve grown and preserved yourself.

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Using your garden produce for canning recipes and baking pies can help you extend the life of your quarantine garden. What are your favorite canning and pie recipes? Share @providence. #canning

Related resources

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Battling food insecurity during a pandemic

Food and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The economic impact of COVID-19 on agriculture and the way we eat

From the kitchen of Chef Tse: Nutritious family dinners

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

 

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