Isn't it exciting when harvest time comes and you have a bountiful crop? But what do you do if you have more than you can eat before things go off? You may give generously to fellow Food Garden Group members, neighbours, friends and relatives, but the best thing to do is probably to somehow preserve your harvest, so it will last you, well, ideally, until just before the next crop arrives.

This page contains tips, hints and recipes from Food Garden Group members and anyone else who likes to contribute on how to preserve and store fruit and vegies. Please share your methods.  Enter your contribution in the 'Post a Comment' section at the bottom of this page.

Sterilising Jars
A lot of preserving is done using jars.  Sterilising jars is essential to make your produce last.  It is also quite easy.  First wash jars in warm water and get rid of any traces of what was in the jar before especially in and around the lids. You can follow one of two methods:
Method 1: immerse jars and lids in boiling water, then dry lids and jars in a 100C oven for 20 mins
Method 2: half fill jars with water, put lids on lightly, boil in microwave for 2 mins, get rid of water.

Oil does not preserve food
Books and web sites that do not point this out are omitting a really important fact.  Why?  Because preserving in oil could lead to the development of bacteria, for instance C. Botulinum, which could kill you. In order to preserve food the pH (acidity) of the food needs to be 4.6 or below.  Commercial producers of foods in oil (such as sundried tomatoes) are by law required to rigorously test the pH of their products. Foods that are low in acid (all vegetables) need to be preserved in vinegar. It is also good to add lemon juice.  Lemon juice you buy in bottles is preferable as the acidity of fresh lemons varies depending on type and state of ripeness.

Microwave Bottling
Microwave bottling works a treat, is ideal if you just want to preserve a small quantity and produces very healthy results as you don’t need to add sugar.  Our member Marg wrote a blog post on the subject.  You can find it here .  Isabel Webb wrote 5 Minute Microwave Bottling and More Microwave Bottling (both published by The Five Mile Press).  They provide full directions.

Pickling Olives
Members of our group recommended this recipe:

Preserving Garlic
  • Sterilise a jam jar and lid. 
  • Clean garlic gloves and fill the jar until you can’t stuff in more. 
  • Now add up to one cup of vinegar, measuring how much you can add. 
  • Add one tbsp.of salt per one cup of vinegar, proportionally to the amount of vinegar you used. 
  • Put the lid on and shake until all salt dissolved and all cloves are well covered in the mix. 
  • Store in the fridge.
Pickling Capsicums
  • .8 kg of cleaned capsicum cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of pickling spice = 1/3 of each of these ground spices: cinnamon, cloves, mace
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp of minced ginger
  • 3 sterilised marmalade jars
  1. Put all ingredients except the capsicums in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  2. Boil for five minutes.
  3. Add the capsicums, bring to the boil again and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Place capsicums in sterilized jars
  5. Cover with hot liquid until completely covered
  6. Seal jars
  7. Store for three weeks in a cool spot before using

Pickling Cabbage (thank you Clodagh)
  1. Get ready 500 g freshly picked red cabbage. Quarter cabbage,  cut out the centre white areas. Shred very finely. 
  2. Put into a colander and sprinkle with course sea salt. Cover with an upside down plate. Leave for 2-3 hours, drain and wash off the salt.   Pat dry with a tea towel.
  3. Put 500 ml cider vinegar (organic if you can find it), 2 tsps black peppercorns, 6 bay leaves, 400 granulated sugar, 200 ml red wine into a wide sauce pan (I borrowed my neighbours stainless steel container) and simmer until the liquid is reduced to half. Infuse for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain into a jug or bowl. 
  5. Put cabbage and 2 tblspns yellow mustard seed into a big bowl. pour over stained liquid.
  6. Put into sterilised jars, seal and keep in fridge.  (I used a whole cabbage)

Peppered Zucchini and Leek Mini Muffins (thank you Loes)

1 tbl spoon olive oil
1 medium (350g) leek, sliced
3 small (270g) zucchini, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
2 t sp curry powder
1 t sp ground coriander
1 t sp ground cumin
100g butter, chopped
1/2 cup (60g) grated tasty cheddar cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
1 tablespoons olive oil, extra

3/4 cup (90g) grated tasty cheddar cheese
1 t sp cracked black pepper
1 t sp sea salt

Grease mini muffin pan(s) with (olive) oil
Heat oil in frying pan,add leek, zucchini and garlic, cook, stirring,until leek is soft and any liquid evaporated.
Strain mixture,press out excess liquid; cool.
Sift flour, curry powder and spices into large bowl, rub in the butter, stir in zucchini mixture and cheese,
then eggs, buttermilk and extra oil. Spoon mixture into prepared pan, sprinkle with topping.
Bake in moderately hot (200-210gr) oven about 20 minutes.

Makes appr. 40 mini muffins and are best served as soon as possible.

Egg and Sausage Parcel (thank you Pauline)

By popular demand here is the recipe for the Egg & Sausage parcels that so many people liked at the food garden visit to Jan's garden:

2 sheets frozen ready rolled puff pastry
250 grams sausage mince
1/4 cup mango chutney
4 hard boiled eggs
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to very hot. About 220 degrees C fan-forced.
Cut each pastry sheet into 4 squares.
Combine sausage mince and chutney and divide mixture into 8 portions.
Place a portion of the mixture on each pastry square.
Cut eggs across into halves and place half an egg (round side up) on sausage mince mixture, season with pepper.
Brush outside edges of pastry lightly with egg and bring towards centre, sealing the edges of the pastry firmly so that filling is enclosed.
Place parcels on lightly greased baking tray.
Glaze with egg and bake in very hot oven for about 12 minutes or until nicely browned.
Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate.
Serve parcels cold. Makes 8.

Apple Spice Cake Cookies (gluten free) (thank you Denby)
(makes 10 to 18 cookies depending on size of scoop)

12 x dried dates or 6 Medjool dates, pitted
1 ½ tablespoons water, divided
½ cup (125g) unsweetened applesauce or pureed stewed fruit
1 tablespoon extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon apple pie spice (see recipe below) or ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups (150g) almond flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of sea salt

½ cup (75g) shredded apple

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (I usually cook at 150 degrees and keep an eye on them).
  2. Line a tray with baking paper.
  3. Microwave on high for 30 seconds the dates and 1 tablespoon water.  Mash and add remaining ½ tablespoon water.  Microwave on high for further 30 seconds and mash again.
  4. Food process dates, applesauce, coconut oil, spice and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Combine almond flour, baking soda & salt in a bowl. 
  6. Grate apples (squeeze the surplus juice out of the grated apple as the recipe can be too sloppy to form cookies).
  7. Mix the date mixture into the dry ingredients and stir.  Add the shredded apple to the bowl and stir well.
  8. Scoop the batter into balls and transfer to the baking tray.  Slightly press down on the tops with damp fingers.  Sprinkle with additional spice.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
  9. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.  They may also be frozen for up to 2 months.

Apple Pie Spice (makes 3 teaspoons): 2tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp allspice, dash of cardamon

Dutch Egg cakes (thank you Pauline)

  • 3 eggs
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 75 grams flour (replace with almond meal for a gluten free version)
  • 75 grams corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Split the eggs.
  3. Beat the egg whites until you can hold the bowl upside down. Then gradually add 100 grams of the sugar while continuing to beat until all sugar is dissolved.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, 50 grams sugar, and the lemon rind together until changed in colour.
  5. Sieve flour and cornflour together.
  6. Carefully fold the flours and egg yolk mix through the egg whites. Do NOT mix too well.
  7. Put a piece of baking paper on an oven tray.
  8. Use 2 spoons to put the batter in 10 separate piles on the tray.
  9. Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
  10. Cool slightly before removing from tray.

Chilli Relish   (thank you Jo C)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup apple, raw
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 cup chillis

Chop apple, onion and chillis fairly finely, boil with other ingredients until thick. You may need to add a little more vinegar. Spoon into jars and seal.

Sourdough    (thank you Mel T)

  • In the morning get starter out of the fridge (I'm always happy to share starter with anyone who'd like some)
  • Add a few spoonfuls of plain white flour (whatever brand I have) and a few spoonfuls of cool/lukewarm water. 
  • Mix and leave on bench til the next morning. Repeat for another 24hrs if not really bubbly but mine always is so I move onto the next step.
  • Take 200g of starter and put in a large bowl. Put remaining starter and bit more flour and water in a jar, mix and put back in the fridge with a lid until ready to go again (feed again after 6 days or so if not baking again quickly)
  • To the 200g starter add 700g lukewarm water and mix.
  • Then add 1kg flour (I usually use 600g plain white flour and 400g wholemeal spelt, but really I have substituted 400g GF flour once when I had no spelt and the bread was no different!) 
  • Mix into a dry dough mixture, cover bowl with tea towel and leave for 30mins.
  • Dissolve 20g salt in 50g boiling water
  • After 30mins add salty water to dough and squeeze mix with hands until a wet even dough.
  • Cover bowl with tea towel again and leave on bench for 30mins.
  • Every 30mins throughout the day wet your hands then turn sticky dough over in the bowl. Recover and sit again. I flip the dough every 30mins when I'm about but have left it for a number of hours then flipped it every 30mins when I got home again, always seems to work)
  • An hour before bed get dough out of bowl (should be far less sticky after a day of flipping and bench sitting) and put on floured bench. Cut firmly in half but don't knead. Lightly flour, cover with tea towel and leave on bench for 30-60mins.
  • Line two medium sized bowls with floured tea towels.
  • After 30-60mins on bench, choose one half and fold the dough in on itself at the top, sides and bottom (like you're making an envelope). Place folded dough bundle into one of the prepared lined bowls. Fold tea towel over the dough and place in fridge overnight. Repeat for other loaf.
  • In the morning, place a large Le Creuset/cast iron casserole dish with lid in oven and heat to 250 degrees Celsius.
  • When oven hot enough, flip one of the doughs into it, snip a few mark with scissors in the top, quickly replace hot lid and into oven 20mins 250 degrees.
  • After 20mins remove lid, reduce temperature to 200 degrees and cook another 20mins.
  • Repeat for second loaf.
I know this isn't your usual temperature-controlled way of making sourdough, but I followed these instructions ( first, then modified over time! So I sometimes forget the salt and extra water, I sometimes leave it on the bench overnight accidentally, as I mentioned I sometime don't have enough flour so substitute for something else (rice flour etc). They all seem to work just fine. So this method and technique work for me and my style of slightly distracted cooking. I'll try and bring starter to the next swap table but happy to share anytime of someone wants some.

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