Preserving the Last of the Summer Vegetables

Are you coming to the end of the veggie gardening season but have produce left and don’t want it to spoil?   Or maybe thinking ahead to a little later in the fall and don’t want to waste anything from the garden? Summer vegetables can be prolific at times. Some weeks I have much more than we can consume, even though we love them and eat them a couple of times a day.

10 tips for preserving summer vegetables - the gardeningcook.com/summer-vegetables

There is nothing quite like the taste of vegetables that you grow yourself.  They can be roasted, stir fried, or steamed on the stove top and taste so much better than those bought in the store.

I have been using the veggies all summer, and haven’t had a lot of extra,  but now it looks as though I will may have a bit of excess and I hope to be able to enjoy them in the winter when my garden is long gone.

I am not much of a canner – it is a lot of work and takes time that I just don’t have.  For me, preserving the taste of summer means that I have to rely on what I can freeze or dry.  If you are interesting in canning some of your veggies, Amazon has a great water bath canner with a steel rack that will make light of the work for you. (affiliate link)

Here are a few tips about some of my favorite veggies and how to extend the season on them.

Tomatoes:  One of my favorite3 summer vegetables.  I just plunge them in boiling water till the skins crack and then into a cold water bath.  They can then be stored either whole or chopped and frozen until I need them.  Also just wonderful to roast in the oven and make into a fabulous marinara sauce.  Dehydrating tomatoes is also a great way to go.  Here is one of my favorite reader tips:  Randy says:   “I have been dehydrating foods for over 30 years, and just recently discovered that my husband will eat dried tomatoes like they are candy! He loves to grab a small handful on-the-go. I use grape tomatoes for full flavor, and since they are now in full production, I can pick them every day and not let any go to waste. Slice them in half, place them on the dehydrator tray, lightly salt and pepper them, and in they go at 140 degrees for about 5 hours. Yum!”  Looks as though a dehydrator is on my list of things to buy, Randy!.

Corn:  Just blanch for 3 or 4 minutes, cool and then scrape off the kernels and freeze.  If you prefer whole corn on the cob, blanch for about 6 minutes and then freeze.

Peppers:   Very easy. They freeze well without blanching.  Just chop or slice them and freeze on a cookie sheet until solid and place into zip lock bags.  Scoop out what you need when you are cooking.

Beans:  Top and tail.  Cut into pieces.  Put into boiling water for 2 minutes and then into an ice bath.  Freeze.  Timing is important.  Blanch as soon as you can after picking for best flavor.  So easy.

Peas:  Little chance of these making it to the freezer, let alone the dinner table. They are my favorite raw snack.  But if you DO want to freeze, shell them, blanch for about 2 minutes and cook in ice water and put into freezer bags.  Don’t defrost before cooking or they will be soggy.

Carrots:  Another one that I will not likely have extra.  I don’t even have the patience to wait until they really get long.  If you have a mild winter, you can just leave them in the garden under mulch.  In colder regions, pull them up before a hard frost and freeze after blanching for a few minutes.  You can also use them in cakes and muffins.

Cucumbers:  Freeze them. Yes…that’s right.  Just pop a few cukes into the freezer at the end of the season to use early next year in chilled soups. Peel the cucumbers, chop them into chunks, drop them into plastic bags and put the bags in the freezer. 

Onions:  Many onions can just be kept cold over the winter but vidalia onions don’t keep too well that way.   Chop these and freeze them in plastic containers.

Broccoli:  Frozen broccoli is tasty and keeps its texture.  Just cut up the heads into small florets so the pieces will blanch uniformly. Blanch cut-up florets only for a minute before you freeze them. Cool the blanched broccoli, then pack it into plastic bags and freeze.

Fresh Herbs: You can dice these and add olive oil in ice cube trays.  You’ll have just the right size for any recipes all winter long.

What do you do with the last of your summer vegetables so that they do not go to waste?  I  would love to hear your comments below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  2 comments for “Preserving the Last of the Summer Vegetables

  1. Randy Lyon
    08/11/2014 at 9:40 am

    Carol, Fantastic tips! I share your thought about not wanting to let my garden’s bounty go to waste! I have been dehydrating foods for over 30 years, and just recently discovered that my husband will eat dried tomatoes like they are candy! He loves to grab a small handful on-the-go. I use grape tomatoes for full flavor, and since they are now in full production, I can pick them every day and not let any go to waste. Slice them in half, place them on the dehydrator tray, lightly salt and pepper them, and in they go at 140 degrees for about 5 hours. Yum!

    • admin
      08/11/2014 at 9:49 am

      Hi Randy. What a wonderful tip! I’ll add it to the article so that other people can try the tip to. (I’ll give you a shout out! I don’t suppose you have a photo of the dried tomatoes do you? Would love to add that too. Thanks for visiting! Carol

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