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Ready or Not #95: Storing Vegetables

I was talking to a friend about the soon to be released A Prepared Home food storage calculator and how it was going to be such a big help to figure out what you need in your food storage. She said that she and her daughter sat down and picked out their favorite recipes and started figuring out what food they needed to buy. After a while, she stopped because most everything she loved to cook and to feed her family involved large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Obviously, she can’t store a years’ worth of fresh vegetables; sometimes you are lucky if you can store a week’s worth of fresh vegetables. We talked about alternative storage ideas for vegetables, and these were the best ideas.

First, I would suggest buying frozen vegetables. I am a really big fan of frozen vegetables; it doesn’t matter to me if you freeze them yourself or if you buy them frozen. Of course, you will need to consider what you are buying to make sure that it is healthy. If you buy frozen vegetables that are slathered in a delectable, yet unhealthy, sauce you might want to reconsider. But for the most part, frozen vegetables are far superior to canned veggies. The frozen vegetables are processed and frozen within hours after they have been picked so they actually retain more of their nutrients than do the fresh vegetables that have been picked, processed, trucked, and sit on the shelves at the store – slowly deteriorating.

I also like the idea that all of the work has already been done and all you have to do is open the bag and pour out the amount that you need, saving the rest in the freezer for a later date – never once worrying about them going bad. I buy my frozen vegetables at Sam’s Club or Costco because they sell them in very large bags. It makes it affordable and convenient.

A second alternative is the canned vegetable. I really don’t like canned vegetables very much, but there are some acceptable things about storing canned veggies. Most canned vegetables taste okay and can be eaten without much preparation, except for peas – there should be a law against canned peas. The real upside to canned vegetables is that you can store them for a very long time; you don’t need refrigeration until after you have opened the can and you can transport them the easiest out of all of the alternatives. I especially like to store canned corn, beans, potatoes, mushrooms (I consider the mushrooms a vegetable when it is in a can) and I keep canned carrots on hand for times when I might be desperate enough to use them.

A third alternative is sprouting. It is always a good idea to keep seeds on hand for sprouting or growing a garden. Don’t forget to rotate your seeds because they can get old and not work and make sure to always buy good quality seeds. Since it is important to eat fresh food for certain types of nutrients, sprouting can offer you a quick and easy way to get the fresh nutrients in literally days instead of weeks.

You will also find that sprouts have more nutritious value than their full-grown counterparts. For example, the broccoli sprout is much more nutritious than the mature broccoli and that is pretty hard to do since broccoli is the most perfect vegetable on the face of the earth. It would be a good thing for you to try sprouting some seeds to see how it is done. There are a lot of instructions on the internet and plenty of books that explain the best way to do it. I will bet that you will fall in love with sprouting and incorporate it into your everyday eating. Remember that there are a whole lot of seeds that can be sprouted – not just alfalfa seeds!

Here is a tip for sprouting – use a metal grease splatter shield to sprout your seeds. Just wet the seeds down and spread them on to the shield. Lay it on top of moist paper towels next to the sink. When they start to sprout and are clinging to the metal screen, you can just wet them down and let them drain all while perched over the sink. The sprouts are easy to detach and eat and the shield can be thrown into the dishwasher when you’re done. Too easy.

Dried vegetables are also an acceptable way of storing vegetables, but before you go out and buy a bunch, try them out first. I found that some brands taste really good and some would be better used as fertilizer to grow the fresh stuff. Make sure that the money you spend to purchase and store your vegetables is money put to good use, that of buying high quality food for the good health of your family.

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