Preserving the summer harvest

Summer is here and that means oily rag gardeners can look forward to an abundance of produce from their garden. The challenge is to find ways to extend the availability of delicious fresh fruit and vegetables into the chillier times of the year. This is a matter of dollars and sense for the frugal family because fruit and vegetables are cheapest when they are abundant. Serious savers will be making the most of this opportunity, and even non oily rag gardeners should be making the most of the season's harvest by buying cheap or better still receiving free fruit and vegetables from neighbours, friends and relatives.

There are many different ways to store your abundance, but freezing is the most common way of preserving food - so common that many people don't really see it as a form of preserving. We reckon having a decent sized freezer is essential for those feasting off the smell of an oily rag.

Here are some freezing tips from readers.

  • Cathy says, "I bulk buy bananas, peel and cut either in 1/2 or 1/3s. Put them in the plastic bag and place in the freezer, whole. They last pretty well and I slice them up in the morning and put them directly into my porridge."
  • M.H. from Christchurch says frozen ripe bananas are great for muffins and banana loaf. "They can be frozen in their skins (as is) and just defrosted prior to use. I microwave them for a minute before I use them."
  • D.N. from Taruanga writes, "I buy bulk onions when cheap and chop and freeze - saves time and money and wastage from onions sitting in the cupboard. I also slice up mushrooms and freeze in sealable bag - great for a quick spag' bowl meal."
  • Rocky from Napier writes: "I grow silver beet but didn't always eat it. Now I pick and chop it up and put it into bags to freeze. It works nicely. Bags can also be reused. When I cook I just mix in some frozen silver beet."
  • Angela writes, "My daughter (14 months) loves grapes but a bunch goes off before she can get through them. I freeze them now and give them to her as a frozen snack for morning tea. Do the same with mandarin segments."
  • BMD from Christchurch has this tip. "Purchase a large packet of bacon slices on special, get a large area of glad wrap, lay each slice, cover with gladwrap, and continue. Finish with an all over wrap and freeze with date - each comes apart easily as required."
  • Carol from New Plymouth has a tip for that summer car trip. "Save the plastic bladders from empty wine casks and fill them with enough water so that they lie flat like a brick and freeze them a few days before travelling. Then pack frozen bladders on top of your food in the chilly bin."
  • Diane from Papakura says, "If you buy larger amounts of meat and then break these down into smaller packs ready for freezing, don't throw out the wrap that it came in. It can be used to wrap one of the smaller packs that you have created - no need for an extra piece of glad-wrap for that pack as it already came in it." 
  • Allie from Nelson says, "If you have lots of excess lemons, juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube containers. When frozen shake out into a plastic bag. Instant fresh lemon juice cubes all year round!One of these cubes added to a glass of fruit juice reduces the sweetness and adds a vitamin C boost. Also, always handy when you need a lemon and honey drink for a sore throat or cold."

Do you have a favourite preserving tip that you would like to share with others? If so, please send it to us at or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

(Live Matches)