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How to store your fresh veg to eat over winter

Dried red chilli peppers
Dried red chilli peppers Credit: Getty Images

Gardening expert and no-dig allotmenteer Jack Wallington provides weekly advice on how to grow food yourself

If you’ve had a good summer on the plot, now is the time to squirrel away excess veg for winter. Drying, freezing, storing and preserving does not a fun weekend make, but it will keep you in home-grown produce for much longer.

Dry chillies at home on a tray or by tying stalks to a piece of string to hang, saving space and making an edible decoration. Leave haricot beans on plants for as long as possible, then bring the whole shebang into your vegetable store to hang upside down (as with herbs and dried flowers) until fully dried, then store the beans in jars. A vegetable store can be any cool, dark and dry space such as a garage, basement or shed; mine is an under-stairs cupboard.

With French beans still in overdrive, producing a carrier bag-full from 10 plants every week, I’ll be freezing many. Parboil for a couple of minutes to eliminate bacteria, cool in ice water, drain and dry, then freeze. I’ve done the same with edamame, pods on or off.

I leave carrots, Hamburg parsley, salsify, beetroot and parsnips in the ground until required, which is fine as long as it doesn’t freeze and prevent you from lifting them. For faster access, lay roots in trays of sand (sans leaves) in the store.

Potatoes, onions and garlic should be in the veg cave already and can be joined by pumpkins and winter squash when ripe in autumn. They’ll last for months, though do check regularly and remove any rotters.

Once halved and seeds removed, your tomatoes can be dried in an oven on the lowest setting over six to nine hours; allow to cool, then store in olive oil. Last year, I produced modest jars of unripe green tomato chutney and have been wolfing it down. Find the recipe in Jams & Chutneys: Preserving the Harvest by Thane Prince.