Growing your own fruit, herbs and vegetables ensures that they’ll be at their very best when it comes to eating them moments after they have been picked or dug up. Flavour, texture and nutritional value are all at their peak when produce is fresh-picked or harvested. Generally it works out that you can leave your food plants growing until you need to take produce from them – this guarantees that all-important freshness. There are many vegetables – like carrots, beetroot, leeks and parsnips that store well in the ground. Others such as pumpkins and potatoes can be stored for months indoors with the right handling. Apples, garlic and onions too have a good ‘shelf life’. Some harvests are a more of a glut and a time for feasting – grapes, avocados, feijoas and asparagus are all delicious fresh. However, with the right recipes even these fresh treats can be transformed into a resourceful long- term food store by freezing, preserving and pickling. The most important thing of all is knowing when plants and produce are ready and how best to harvest them.
equipment bare hands
Coriander needs to be harvested regularly to stop plants from bolting and going to seed. This happily means you will have a regular supply of aromatic fresh foliage as well as a healthy plant that regenerates itself and lasts for longer. The trick is to cut the top third from a plant and leave the bottom two-thirds to re-grow. Usually doing this about once a week works for established plants. Just cut horizontally across the plant with scissors or a sharp knife. You can of course also just gab a few stems every day or so too. Fresh coriander is undoubtedly the best when it comes to flavor but it can be easily be frozen and stored in a plastic ziplock bag for later use. Allow a few plants to flower and they’ll attract bees, parasitoid wasps and hoverflies into your garden. These plants can then self-seed and reward you with yet more plants in the seasons to come. You can also dry and save the seeds for use in the kitchen too.more
Zucchini taste sweetest and have the best texture when they are about the length of your hand. Take care not to damage stems when you harvest – the easiest way is to take a sharp knife and cut through the thick stem that connects the fruit to the main stem. This should leave about a fingertip length of stem attached to the Zucchini. Resist the urge to try and pull them off by hand as they often just snap in half. Keep picking and the plant will keep producing. Scour your plants to make sure you don’t miss any fruits - if you leave your Zucchini too long then they’ll turn into marrows – which can be nice, depends on your taste. Always good for a spot of chutney! Zucchini are best stored in a cool place at room temperature and should be god for at least a week. Apparently refrigerating them can cause them to age prematurely. If you do want to put them in the fridge then place them in the crisper draw if you have one.more
equipment Bare hands, ladder with someone to steady it for you
Depending on variety and weather you can be picking plums from late spring through to early autumn. Taste is a good enough indicator of ripeness but generally fruit are ripe when the develop fully-coloured, soft skins and they give slightly when squeezed. Plums should come off the tree quite easily with just a quick twist. If you are in any doubt keep an eye on birds that will descend onto trees in numbers as soon as fruit are ready. Handle fruit carefully when harvesting to prevent bruising. Line your bucket or basket with soft material such as cloth or newspaper. Plums store well in the fridge for 2 to 4 weeks or they can be sliced and stoned before freezing or dried whole to make prunes. They also make fantastic jams and preserves.more
Simple and fresh use of some of summer's best ingredients
If you're a new potato buff you'll love this ...