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Preserving food is about as old as growing it.  The problem we come up with after a nice full season of vegetable garden growing is what to do with the excess yield.  It is common sense that food left exposed to air will spoil and rot unless it is preserved in some way.  There are microorganisms and enzymes that are part of this decomposition process.  This change is very present in our compost bins where you can see the decomposition and later use the transformation as compost for your garden and the cycles starts again.  There are three basic ways to preserve your food so you can enjoy them for months long into winter.

The most common way you will see is usually referred to as "Canning".  Although no "cans" are used in this process, this method used heat to to cook and hermetically seal the food in glass jars.  The nice thing about this process is that there are hundreds if not thousands of different recipes available for delicious preserves like Salsa, Chili Sauce and plain pickling to name a few.  This give variety over simply preserving each produce individually like the next two food preservation methods.

Dehydration is another time honored technique.  Dehydration removes the foods natural water content by up to 95% which basically stops the growth of bacteria and spoilage.  Preserving peppers this way is great and will provide you with fresh tasting peppers for soups and sauces.  Dehydrators have come way down in price and if you do a quick search you can find different technics in the Internet to sun dry.  Dehydrated preserves have an advantage over other preserving methods since it allows you to store your newly preserved vegetables in bulk and use in various quantities.  Only caviate is you absolutely need to keep dehydrated preserves dry.  Moister is the enemy using this method.

Freezing is another popular preservation method for vegetables.  This obviously delays spoilage and decomposition by extreme cold.  Freezing is quick and easy.  You can chop up your onions or wax beans for example, place them in a freezer bag, take out all the air you can and place it in your freezer or deep freeze.  When thawed, frozen vegetables will be limp and soggy but they will tast nice and fresh steamed or cooked in a sauce.  As with Canning, freezing as a food preservation method will require planning out the portions based on its intended use.  Once the vegetables are thawed they should never be frozen again.

All three preservation methods require specific preparation steps and packaging.  They each have their pros and cons, but the one thing they all have in common is they will allow you to enjoy your vegetable garden will into the winter months while dreaming of next years harvest!

Keep It Green!

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