There are many ways that you can preserve vegetables and fruits. Fruits are often cooked and then canned, such as jellies, jams and preserves. Fruits are easy to can and only need to undergo a hot water process that seals the wax on the ring of the canning jar. This is easy to do. Tomatoes can be canned in this manner.
Preserving vegetables, however, is another matter. Canning vegetables requires a pressure cooker and a lot of knowledge. You can get Botulism from not canning vegetables properly. Unless you have experience with using a pressure cooker, you are better off to preserve vegetables in different ways such as pickling or freezing. Each vegetable and fruit has different ways that are ideal for preservation.
Here is a run down on all of the different ways that you can preserve vegetables that you have grown in your garden and save money:
This process works best with tomatoes. You need to use sterilized canning jars with wax rings and lids. Wash the jars in the dishwasher before adding the tomatoes. The tomatoes should be washed and peeled. To peel a tomato, put it in hot water and it will easily peel in your hands. You should put the tomatoes in the jars and fill up with sterile water. Put on the rings and lids and boil the jars in a canning pot for 20 minutes. After you remove them from the canning pot, you should hear the lids making a slight pop noise that means they are sealed.
You can also cook the tomatoes and add spices to make salsa or spaghetti sauces, or just cooked tomatoes, and also use the same process. The main concern is to make sure all instruments and jars are sterile. You can buy canning jars and pots at your grocery store. Once sealed, the jars should be stored in a cool, dark place and can be used throughout the year.
Pickling is used for cucumbers and onions and involves using sea salts and vinegar to preserve the vegetables for a period of time. Pickling can also be accomplished using alcohol, although this is rarely done with vegetables. In order to pickle any vegetables, you need to follow the same process as in canning with regard to sterilization, and then do the hot water bath. Because they are preserved in alcohol, you do not have to worry about bacteria forming. Use the hot water bath to make sure the jars are sealed and then sore in a cool, dry place.
Freezing is one of the easiest ways that you can preserve vegetables. Many people who want to save money on their grocery bills invest in a deep freezer. This can store all of the vegetables for you. You need to use containers or freezer bags that will lock out air and preserve the vegetables. Place cleaned vegetables in the freezer bags or containers and stick them in the freezer after sealing. This only takes a few minute and works well with corn, peppers, eggplant, broccoli and carrots. It does not work for lettuce or potatoes. Lettuce will turn to mush in the freezer and potatoes will get black.
Root vegetables such as onions, potatoes, turnips and carrots can be stored in a root cellar for the entire year. If you do not have a root cellar, read the next chapter and you can learn how you can create your own root cellar to store your vegetables. You can also store them in a basement, provided it is cool and unheated. Root vegetables can last a year if properly stores, but it has to be in a cool and dark place.
By preserving as many as the vegetables as you can, you will be able to continue to save money throughout the year with the vegetables that you have grown in your own garden.