Preserving Garden Vegetables

Pam Schmutz
Home & Garden Information Center

Food prices are rising and so is the popularity of growing vegetables in a home garden. What are the best ways to preserve an abundance of vegetables to be enjoyed after the summer season is past? What are the safety issues that should be considered? What equipment is needed to safely preserve produce? These are some of the questions consumers ask, especially those who are canning or freezing foods for the first time. For general information on ways to preserve foods, see HGIC 3000, Preserving Foods.

Freezing Vegetables

Freezing is definitely a good option for those who have room in their freezer. Most vegetables need to be blanched to inactivate the enzymes that will otherwise cause the loss of color, flavor and nutrients. For specific information on freezing vegetables, see HGIC 3063, Freezing Fruits & Vegetables.

Canning Vegetables

Vegetables are low-acid foods and must be canned in a pressure canner unless they are pickled using a tested recipe. Clostridium botulinum is a microorganism that grows and produces a deadly toxin in low-acid foods when oxygen has been removed, as it is when foods are canned. Boiling water temperatures will not destroy the botulinum spores that grow in low-acid foods. The spores are killed at 240 °F or above when processed for the proper times in a pressure canner. This is why it is important to use tested recipes. Pressure canners that have a dial gauge should be tested annually for accuracy. Weighted gauge canners do not need to be tested each year. Call your local Extension office to have your canner tested. For step-by-step information on canning foods, see HGIC 3040, Canning Foods at Home. For information on preserving specific foods, see the section on Food Safety & Preservation on the Home & Garden Information Center web site.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.