Harvest Like a Pro

Make the most of these summer garden favorites with expert tips for harvesting, storing and preserving.


  • When harvesting, the smallest versions of fully ripe fruits and vegetables tend to be the tastiest and most nutritious.
    Photo by iStock/bluecinema
  • Smoked chilies will give foods a rich flavor.
    Photo by iStock/SandraMatic
  • Dry tomatoes for a well-preserved addition to soups and stews.
    Photo by iStock/msk.nina
  • Squash blossoms are delicious stuffed and sauteed.
    Photo by iStock/scisettialfio
  • Salting eggplant and letting it rest for about 30 minutes helps draw out bitterness.
    Photo by iStock/Olha_Afanasieva
  • Serve eggplant chutney in sandwiches, alongside meats and curries, or on a cheese plate.
    Photo by iStock/Jeffoto

There’s nothing like growing and preserving our own produce to remind us that supermarket convenience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And after we’ve toiled all spring and summer to grow some of our own groceries, it’s a shame not to make use of it all. Unfortunately, much of the summer harvest comes on all at once, and it can be a challenge to deal with.

Check garden plants at least every other day in peak summer to see what needs to be harvested, keeping in mind that the smallest versions of fully ripe fruits and vegetables tend to be the tastiest and most nutritious. Once you bring the bounty inside, choose whichever method of storage and preservation seems most time-efficient for you. If you harvest produce on a Saturday morning, you may have time to try smoking your own chipotles or making pickles and chutney. If it’s a busy weeknight, however, you may be better off popping that produce in the freezer. And of course, enjoy as many juicy, ripe, fresh-from-the-garden, peak-nutrition gems as possible — while you still can!

Cucumbers

Harvest: Cucumbers can be picked as gherkins when small, or kept on the vine longer for salads and pickling. Search the plants for cucumbers hiding under the foliage, and pick the fruits by twisting them from the plant or snipping them off with scissors.

Store: Cucumbers keep well at room temperature for three days or so. They can also be kept in a perforated bag in the crisper for about a week.



Preserve: Make pickles! Try easy refrigerator pickles (find a recipe at motherearthliving.com/refrigerator-pickles), canned vinegar pickles or home-fermented brine pickles.

Try Something Different: Roasted Cukes



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