Following a long hot and dry summer which has seen crops face a tough time in torrid growing conditions, it is now the time for you to get harvesting! Get outside in the late summer sunshine and bring home the harvest for you and your family!
September is generally the time for harvesting but make sure you check it is the right time to harvest your crops – either by past years’ experience or advice from the seed packets or garden centre you will know when the time is right.
When it comes to eating the fruits of your labour, remember to eat as close as you can to the time of harvesting. By harvesting and eating soon after you will be able to enjoy the rich and vibrant flavours as well as the crop’s nutrients.
Harvesting timings will depend on the nature of the crops, remember that some vegetables for example ripen all at once. If this is the case, as it is for beans, courgettes and tomatoes they will need to be picked all at once.
However, do not despair if this sounds time consuming! Some crops will allow you to take harvesting far more easily such as leeks and salad leaves which can be picked more leisurely and over some days or even weeks.
If you have leeks and salad leaves in your vegetable plot think of your growing space as an outdoor larder where you can keep crops until you are ready to harvest. The beauty of this means you can harvest as you go for meals.
Timing is everything for some crops, beans for example are generally best to be harvested when they are still relatively small. As beans grow they become less tender and have a tendency to become stringy.
Keeping Your Crops For Another Time
If you have brought the crops in how do you go about ensuring you have glorious ingredients for weeks and months to come? Try some of the following storing and preserving ideas to keep your green goodies fresh.
A suitable process for chillies, peppers and tomatoes and easy to do! If you choose to dry tomatoes, firstly slice them thinly before placing on a baking tray and popping in the oven set at a very low heat for several hours. Once fully dried, pop the tomato slices in an airtight container and use as needed.
Popular in Central and Eastern European cuisine as well as in the Far East fermenting is an ancient but re-emerging storage idea, and vegetables conditioned this way are said to be good for gut health too. Vegetables fermented are to be placed in brine and kept in an airtight container before use.
Perhaps the simplest, the process works best for crops enjoyed when they are fresh such as peas. Begin by washing and chopping before blanching in boiling water and then plunge into a bowl of ice cold water. Dry before placing in the freezer inside of a freezer bag – remember to remove any air.
By Jacob White