Whilst most of us have got used to the idea of lockdown, and come to terms with life not quite as we knew it, it is still fairly difficult to imagine just how long restrictions may go on for. And even if the restrictions on our daily movements are eased in the coming weeks, we still face the prospect of further waves of infection and a winter season possibly without a vaccine or effective medicines.
Food shortages hit the headlines in a big way at the start of the lockdown, and even now, many people are struggling to find basics such as flour and sugar on their supermarket shelves. Whilst most produce is now freely available, it’s worth considering that we are right in the middle of the peak growing season for fruit and vegetables, but the Covid-19 restrictions could last throughout the winter in some shape or form.
It’s not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that there could be shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables in the coming months, especially if you also factor in the shortage of agricultural workers to harvest Britain’s crops and the potential for complex trading arrangements when we finally leave the EU transition period at the end of the year.
For all of these reasons, it makes sense to consider building up a stockpile of preserved foods, and vegetables in particular. In today’s post, we talk about the various ways to preserve those healthy veggies and discuss which work best for the various preserving methods.
Preserving jars to the rescue
Whatever method of preserving you choose, whether it’s freezing, pickling, drying or canning, you need plenty of good quality glass jars to put all that produce in. We have a huge range of preserving jars to choose from, suitable for all types of preserving. Check out the range before you start thinking about bulk buying your fruit and vegetables so that you are well-prepared at the outset of the project. Our Bonta range of glass jars is perfect for building up a store of preserved veg.
Drying as a means of preserving vegetables
Drying, or dehydrating, to give it the correct name, is a popular way of preserving all kinds of fruit and vegetables. You can use a special dehydrator to do this, or you can simply lay out your sliced vegetables in the oven and leave them there on a very low setting for up to 12 hours to completely dry out. How long the process takes in the oven depends on what vegetable you are working with, so always check online to be sure that you don’t overdo it!
All sorts of vegetables are suitable for the dehydration approach to preserving, including pumpkins, mushrooms, onions, green beans, tomatoes, peas, celery, potatoes, kale, courgettes and cauliflower. If you would normally eat the vegetable raw, like tomatoes, celery and peppers, then you don’t need to do anything before dehydrating. For most other vegetables, however, it helps improve the flavour and appearance of the vegetables if you parboil them for a few minutes before dehydrating them.
Once you’ve dehydrated your vegetables, whether in the oven or in a dehydrator, pack them tightly into clean, sterilised glass jars and seal with the lid as soon as possible. Most dehydrated vegetables should be good to keep for up to a year. They can be added straight from the jar to soups and stews, or you can rehydrate them before use by soaking them in water for 10 minutes.
Other options for preserving vegetables
Of course, drying isn’t the only choice available to you if you want to fill your pantry with vegetable treats for the winter months. Freezing is, of course, another option, and one that is quick and easy to do, provided that you have enough freezer space. Some vegetables also work better when they are canned or pickled, so consider those options too. If you have grown shallots, or you can get hold of some from your greengrocers, a large batch of pickled onions is always a good bet, as is pickled cabbage and an assortment of chutneys.
The secret is to make sure that you fill your Pandemic Pantry with as wide a variety of vegetables as possible. Make too many of one single thing and you run the risk of getting fed up of it, but if you only make a couple of small batches of preserved vegetables, you won’t have enough to use them freely throughout the winter season and you’ll find yourself rationing them, to make them last longer.
Neither of those scenarios are ideal, so make as much as you comfortably can, spread across all sorts of different vegetables, taking into account the vegetables that your family enjoys eating and the dishes you are likely to cook that could make use of these preserved goodies.
Have you started putting together a Pandemic Pantry? Do share your ideas and plans with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as we love to hear from our customers and friends.