Starting the Harvest

Shwmae everyone, it’s early July and the garden is full of all kinds of crops. In recent weeks, I have harvested the onions, redcurrants and blackcurrants, gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries to name a few. It’s been a great season for the soft fruit this year. 

Growing our own food at home and trying to live a self-sufficient life is so important to us. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of preparation work after harvesting crops, especially the gooseberries… I spent ages cutting the heads and tails off them… such a thankless task but worth every cutting.

To ensure we reap the fruits of our labour, it is important to know how to properly store these crops for the coming months. Here are some tips and advice for storing and preparing food from the garden:

Drying and Storing Onions

When harvesting onions, it is important to do this early in the morning and leave them for a day or two (weather permitting) to dry on the surface of the soil. Initially, drying the onions naturally under the sun’s heat is better than doing so indoors for the first few days. Then, I put them to dry further in the greenhouse or in front of a shed window for at least a month. I will then wipe the soil off the skin of the onions before interweaving/storing for the winter. Remember, if there are any markings or blemishes on them – eat them straight away as they will not keep well over the winter. Your stored onions will keep until at least April next year.

Currants, gooseberries and strawberries

There’s so much you can do with soft fruit so that they keep for many months. Jam is the favourite in our house and homemade jam is so easy to make, especially with currants. To make homemade jam, the rule of thumb is that you need the same weight of fruit, sugar and water and then boil them together until the jam has set.

Remember, strawberries and gooseberries do not naturally have enough pectin, therefore pectin needs to be added to the jam. You can buy pectin in the form of ‘jam sugar’ or ‘pectin liquid’ in most supermarkets.

You can also freeze the fruit to eat later in the year with your breakfast or in homemade pastry/crumble, a perfect dessert after a tasty Sunday dinner. 

Making homemade wine or gin with the fruit is also a good option.

If you would like more gardening advice and hear more about my life in the garden, follow @adamynyrardd on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.