How do you handle your excess produce?

@dragon54u (31605)
United States
June 7, 2009 7:29am CST
Being just one person living alone, I'm going to have a lot of extra produce. I thought about canning but I'm scared to death of pressure cookers, one exploded in my grandma's kitchen one time when I was very small. There's the water method but I'm not sure about that and I'd have to make a hefty initial expenditure with either method--$40 to $100 at least. Then there is freezing but what if the freezer fails? Dehydration seems to be the best option right now but I'm concerned about nutrient loss. How do you deal with your excess, do you save it somehow and use it till the next growing season?
3 people like this
13 responses
@nancyrowina (3850)
7 Jun 09
What vegetables are you growing? You could make chutneys or jams and sauces without a pressure cooker. I preserved some of my Chilli's in olive oil last year, that works with all kinds of peppers. Just make sure you make air holes with a pin or knife in them so they don't float on top as then they go mouldy.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
7 Jun 09
I'm growing beans, peas, broccoli, tomatoes and squashes. The corn isn't doing so well, only one stalk came up and it won't germinate without another stalk or three. I'm not much for jams and sauces, although I was going to make tomato sauce and soup from the tomatoes. I'm wondering how well that would go if I dehydrated them.
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@marguicha (92241)
• Chile
7 Jun 09
Beans, brocoli and peas are very easy to freeze. You boil water, throw them in (I cut the bean in squares and the brocoli in flowerettes) and wait till they boil again. I take them out and run cold water over them. Then a platic bag and to the freezer. I use them for veggy soups all winter. The peppers can be thrown in the freezer as is, taking the seeds out.
7 Jun 09
I want to have a go at making my own tomato sauce as I should end up with a load of tomatoes by the end of the summer.
@scheng1 (24806)
• Singapore
11 Jun 09
Hi Dragon, actually I have no experience with all these, since i do not have garden to plant anything. But I enjoy various types of pickles. There are many preserved vegetables selling in the market, some from Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea. The korean kim chi are hot and nice. I wonder if you can pickle all the produces so that you keep them for a long, long time. Since pickling process does not include boiling, the value of the vegetables is not lost to the boiling water.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
11 Jun 09
Over here, people are planting gardens of all types--in containers on their apartment patios and balconies, on their window sills and any place they can. Our food prices are rising so much it's just self defense. I don't know that I'd care for pickled produce but I think I'll dry most of the stuff!
@scheng1 (24806)
• Singapore
11 Jun 09
Hi Dragon, it does not work for us here. We have to buy soil, and the cost of a bag of soil is not that cheap. Actually pickles are nice, if you eat with rice or porridge. Sometimes we buy those different packs of pickles or preserved vegetables, and eat porridge with those. Very nice and healthy! No oil, no fats, and low calories oh
• United States
8 Jun 09
I normally put my stuff in freezer bags and freeze them. And I can some of my stuff to. My grandmother canned all her life because she had a big garden. and she also sold stuff and gave stuff away. But I have all her canning stuff now so that is what I will use this year for canning my garden stuff.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
9 Jun 09
Is canning difficult? I'm afraid of botulism and horrid stuff like that. I'm also afraid of pressure cookers! Do you can with a pressure cooker or use the water method I've read about?
• United States
9 Jun 09
I don't use a pressure cooker for my canning. I just use a deep can filled with hot water and I have a rack that the canning bottles sit in so if they do break they wont go breaking anywhere but in the rack inside the pot. But they don't break as much as you think. My mother in-law cans all the time and I have seen one bottle break but it never exploded on her it just broke inside the pan and you just remove it. Now back in the older days my grandmother used the pressure cooker all the time and she was just fine. Now I have her pressure cooker but i don't use that. I just use her deep pans and rack for canning.
@peavey (16487)
• United States
8 Jun 09
I live alone, too, but I can produce from my garden. Home canned food is just as safe as commercially canned and a lot healthier. You can can tomatoes and tomato sauce in a boiling water bath (if you grow hybrid "sweet" tomatoes, you'll need to add vinegar to acidify them). You can also make pickles of various kinds that way. I bought a pressure canner because I felt that it would save money over the long run. You said, "Then there is freezing but what if the freezer fails?" What if it doesn't? Then you'd have a lot of good food. Dehydration is a good way to save food. Canning creates more nutrient loss than dehydrating.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
9 Jun 09
I didn't know that dehydrating saved more nutrients than canning, thank you! I'm thinking of buying a dehydrator but have to look up different methods, I'm sure there's a way of drying things without artificial devices if I can find it.
@peavey (16487)
• United States
9 Jun 09
Yes, there are different ways of dehydrating food without an electric dehydrator. I've written about it, but can't give you a link because I don't think that's allowed here. I'm sure you'll find information about it when you begin to research though.
@rebelmel (1387)
• United States
8 Jun 09
I usually use the excess pieces of produce (like when I make a salad, or stirfry and there are pieces left over) in a soup. I keep a ziplock back in my freezer filled with all these pieces from the week and I will boil them for a few hours to make a broth, along with other things. If you grow any sort of herbs, I would definitely recommend drying them. I have a few that are almost ready to start using, so I need to learn how to dry them. You could also not buy a lot of things during the summer, maybe just rices and pastas, so that you use up a lot of your produce while it's fresh. You could also consider cutting or blending the vegetables into a paste and adding it to ground meat for a more healthy burger, using less meat and more of your produce.
1 person likes this
• United States
8 Jun 09
I think I would blanch and freeze some of the veggies in ziplock bags . I would use those veggies in soups. I would just keep some fruits and veggies in the bottom of the fridge , they should keep awhile there , and only take out a few things at a time, as you use them . I wish I was growing my own foods , how nice !
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
8 Jun 09
Thanks rebelmel! I don't eat much meat but that idea about the burger would induce me to indulge! I guess cutting them up and using ziplocks in the freezer would be great, as I like to eat vegetable soup in the winter. My favorite is squash soup with a cooked pear blended into it and a little brown sugar and nutmeg--delicious! All I'd have to buy is the pear. I'll be using my freezer a lot, I guess. And I'll have room now that I've stopped buying most processed food.
@jesssp (2742)
• Canada
9 Jun 09
The only things I grow that are edible are very easy to deal with - strawberries, raspberries & chives! The strawberries never amount to much so they just get eaten as they come. Last year the raspberries kinda took over the world, we had tons, so we had raspberries for a snack almost everyday and I would occasionally freeze them. And chives can be dried and stored forever (they aren't as yummy though).
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
9 Jun 09
I wish I liked those things! I don't like berries as a rule, you are very fortunate! I've never tried raspberries, my mom loves them and if she's here next year I might try to grow some.
@xParanoiax (6999)
• United States
9 Jun 09
We always used the water method. It involves a stock pot or two, a wooden rack to go at the bottom for the canning jars to sit on, and bringing it to boiling. It's really simple too. ...never cost that much, either, but then my Mom inherited canning jars from her Mom and we got her a stock pot for christmas. Never buy when you can get for free! You can often get stuff offa freecycle, that you need. Dehydration is the best option, and there are tricks to keeping nutrients. Most of the time, you want to dry it slowly. With the oven set to a low but warm temperature over hours, if not days. Herbs and greens can be air-dried with no loss of nutrients. Making various kinds of leathers/jerkies also saves alot of nutrients too, because you more or less infuse the juices' good stuffs as it dries and becomes a bit tougher (you more or less use the same process that goes into jerky on fruit, veggies, etc. and can always use it in stuffs later, by re-pureeing it and putting it in stuffs like soups and stews). There's tons of options. Me? I prefer a bit of each. Some canned, some dried, some frozen. With the rest eaten, sold, or given away. ^_^ The local farmer's market/flea market'll welcome you, but I'd only recommend it if you had enough to fill up a table or two with produce.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
9 Jun 09
I thought about the water canning. My stepmom has tons of canning jars and lids and all I'd need is the flat tops. I guess they would be good for keeping dried things in, wouldn't they? I plan to look for a dehydrator cheap or free, although I've used the oven to make jerky years ago and it was delicious! Thanks for your help!
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
8 Jun 09
We do not have any, but when we did, we froze everything. We did not know anything about dehydrating properly, but when we lived in Saskatoon, the climate was so dry that we were able to dry herbs, but I never tried it with fruits and vegetables. I did can fruit and pickles but not vegetables or meat. Too dangerous.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
9 Jun 09
I'd love to be able to can meat but like you, I would question the safety of it. Hey, did you see my post in "cooking" about an easy way to turn cheap cuts of meat into restaurant-quality steaks? I bet your hubby would love it. I'm going to try it soon, after my next trip to the grocery. Freezing seems to be winning out. Since I'm cutting out all frozen dinners (too much salt) and most processed foods, I'll have lots of freezer space!
@NettyB (336)
• United States
7 Jun 09
well now, I am happy to hear you are going to have an abundance of produce..awesome! I have used a lot of methods myself, canning, freezing, dehydrating. I do not think I could really recommend one over the other.
@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
7 Jun 09
It's nice to know that someone has used them all with success, thank you!
• United States
7 Jun 09
I freeze what I know can freeze. Otherwise I just eat up as much of that as it becomes ripe in my garden or I share with family & neighbors. I have similar concerns about canning and such as well. I know there are things like freezer jams you can make that I don't think require you to "seal" the jar that my MIL has done. My MIL does the canning and she's been ill for 6mo or so w/ cancer so I dont' know that she'll get to any canning. But I think either the freezing or the boiling method would be the best route. Could you ask on say your local freecycle or craigs list for some of the supplies? I know I'm leary of making the investment myself plus my hubby says the way MIL does it could be dangerous & I'm not about putting myself or my kids in danger if I do it wrong ya know? I'd say maybe also check out YouTube or E-How and maybe there's some turtorial now that I"m typing bout this to you that we can check out to ease our nerves.
@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
7 Jun 09
My mom and stepmom both know how to can and my stepmom, who lives close by, has offered to tutor me. Like you, though, I'm really leery of it! Not to mention, if I make a mistake I could grow some botulism and kill myself! Freecycle is a good idea, though. Maybe there would be a local place that cans stuff. I know in Salt Lake City and many other places with a heavy LDS population they have canning factories that charge very little to do the job for you. I just thought of that, thanks to you--thanks! My best wishes and a few prayers for your MIL. I hope she makes a full recovery and is able to enjoy her family and grandchildren for many years to come.
@marguicha (92241)
• Chile
7 Jun 09
You don´t tell us what kind of extra produce you will have. Canning is a difficult procedure and you have to know how to do it as it´s not safe with some veggies. But freezing is fine with most of them. And you can make tomato sauces and jams (they are delicious). But another way of deling with it is by trading. Probably you have friends who will be very happy to trade good homegrown veggies for other food. Then you can get rid of your surplus and acquire enough sugar or rice to go around the year. I hope this helps. Take care
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
7 Jun 09
That certainly is a good suggestion--thank you!
@snowy22315 (45740)
• United States
7 Jun 09
That hasn't been a problem for me. I always use all the stuff that my garden produces. If I had extra I would either sell it or give it away. Like I said so far it hasn't been a problem. It is something that I would like to do if I could ever manage to make enough to sell.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
7 Jun 09
With the new law demanding inspection of produce being sold from gardens, I don't think I could sell it and I'd rather save it because of the increasing food prices. I live by myself so I don't eat a lot but I'd like a winter's worth of stored vegetables. I'll probably end up giving it away--which I don't mind at all, but it kind of defeats the purpose I'd intended for my garden.
@Philbo (579)
• Canada
7 Jun 09
Anything we store for ourselves is not considered excess. Some of our excess produce is given to the neighbors and friends at church. Neighbor helps me out with things often and same with the people at church. Some people at church need the help and we are more than glad to give it even when they have nothing to give back. Most of the rest we will try to sell on the side of the road.l Anything that goes bad gets fed to our chickens and ducks.
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@dragon54u (31605)
• United States
7 Jun 09
That's when it's good to have livestock! I like the idea of giving it away and I probably will give some away to neighbors but things are getting worse and worse here and the price of food is so high that I want to store some for the winter. I just don't know which method would be best.