Storing Fruits and Vegetables for the Winter

It’s late fall, which means in many parts of the country people have harvested the last of their summer garden produce. The message here today is, don’t let anything go to waste.

Are you drowning in zucchini, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes, thanks to your garden? Too much produce is a great problem to have, but can sometimes leave gardeners wondering how to get the most out of their harvest.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of throwing any produce away. There’s always a way to store fruits and veggies for long-term survival.

Storing food, after all, is a domestic skill that’s been used for thousands of years. It’s how people took advantage of times of plenty to prepare for times of famine.

Drying food is a centuries-old process

There are numerous ways to save and store veggies, fruits and herbs for long-term survival. One of the oldest forms of food preservation is drying.

Drying your own foods at home to supplement survival food storage is safe and incredibly easy to do. If you own a food dehydrator, pull it out and get to work.

If you don’t, no need to purchase one. You can simply use your oven on the very lowest heat setting.

You’ll want to make sure someone is home if you use the oven, and you’ll need to keep a closer eye on the drying process than if you’re using a dehydrator. The temperature and time required to adequately dehydrate food will vary depending on food type.

Use the manual that came with your dehydrator. If you’re using an oven, you’ll want to rely on Google to determine timing based on each type of fruit or veggie.

What is dry enough?

In order to be stored properly, food needs to be at least 95 percent dehydrated. If your fruits and veggies feel soft, spongy or sticky, put them back in the dehydrator for additional time.

Hard and crunchy, or breakable pieces are done and ready for storage. To store long-term, use sealed Mylar bags. To store short-term, use glass jars.

Once you dehydrate and store your garden food, watch for inexpensive produce based on the year-round buying schedule below for optimal savings. It will also provide variety to your survival food.

In a short-term emergency, you won’t tire of the same food. However, if there’s a long-term crisis and you’re forced to utilize food storage for months at a time, you’ll be happy you have some variety.

January – avocados, bananas, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, pears, potatoes, turnips and winter squash. 

February – avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kumquats, mangoes, mushrooms, pears, tangerines and winter squash.

March – artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, grapefruit, kumquats, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes and spinach.

April – asparagus, bananas, cabbage, chicory, escarole, onions, pineapple radishes, rhubarb, spinach and strawberries. 

May – asparagus, bananas, celery, papayas, peas, pineapple, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes and watercress. 

June – avocados, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, cucumber, figs, green beans, limes, mangoes, nectarines, onions, peaches, peas, peppers, pineapple, plums and summer squash.

July – apricots, bananas, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, figs, Gravenstein apples, green beans, nectarines, okra, peaches, peppers, prunes and watermelon. 

August – apples, bananas, beets, berries, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, dill, eggplant, figs, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes.

September – apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, dill, figs, grapes, greens, melons, okra, onions, pears, peppers, potatoes, summer squash, tomatoes and yams.

October – apples, bananas, broccoli, grapes, peppers, pumpkin and yams. 

November – apples, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, dates, eggplant, mushrooms, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

December – apples, avocados, bananas, grapefruit, lemon, limes, mushrooms, oranges, pears, pineapples and tangerines.

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