Whether located in a garden’s corner or on one’s balcony, growing a vegetable garden is always a beneficial activity because there is nothing more enjoyable than eating home-grown produce. This allows the gardener to enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits that are very rich in nutrients beneficial to one’s health (vitamins, trace element …). But one must know how to preserve and cook these natural products in order to get the most out of them.

Fruits, vegetables, aromatic herbs… the available choices are very broad when it comes to growing a vegetable garden. This allows one to enjoy a rustic space at home and to relax, all the while staying in shape, by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables almost all year round. This does not include all the money saved on purchases of fruits and vegetables, as well as the physical activity and outdoor benefits provided by gardening work.

Vegetables and fruits hold many vitamins

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to maximize their nutritional value. In fact, canned vegetables are deprived of much of their nutrients. As a matter of fact, vegetables begin to lose the vitamins and minerals they contain as soon as they are harvested. And if on top of that they are subjected to processing before being canned, the loss is very important and the amount of vitamins and minerals can be nearly reduced by half. Know this, fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fibre. Poor preservation causes you to lose much of these nutrients.

Preserving fresh fruit and vegetables

As already mentioned above, bad processing and poor preservation of fruits and vegetables causes them to lose a lot of essential vitamins. Undoubtedly, to make the most of fresh fruits and vegetables, they should be consumed on the day of harvest. This is actually one of the main advantages of having a vegetable garden; fresh vegetables are readily available for daily consumption. If you cannot eat them the same day, store them in the cold. What you should know is that vitamins are destroyed by air, heat, light and washed away by water. Therefore, do not store the vegetables in the open, but choose a cool, dark place to preserve them, such as the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment.

Properly storing vegetables in the refrigerator and freezer

Before putting the vegetables in the freezer or fridge, wash them without soaking them to avoid losing vitamins. Furthermore, do not put them in airtight bags if they will be stored in the fridge, except for some specific vegetables, in which case it is recommended to use perforated bags and keep them in the vegetable compartment. However, onion and other vegetables like potatoes should not be kept in the refrigerator. Below 43 degrees (6 ° C), the vegetables can be stored between a few days and one or two months. Know that after three or four days, most of the vitamins will already have disappeared. If they are in the fridge, it is therefore advisable to eat them within four days. For longer preservation, freezing vegetables at -0.5 degrees (-18 ° C) allows you to store them for up to a year. After being steam cooked for no more than10 minutes, the vegetables are stored in small bags specifically made for freezing; vegetables that are best suited for freezing are green beans, Swiss chard, cauliflower and wild cabbage.

Learn to eat fruits and vegetables and enjoy their vitamins’ benefits

If it is recommended to eat 5 fruits and vegetables per day,it is in fact because it is a means to acquire vitamins essential to our health. So eating fruits and vegetables stripped of their nutrients is of little interest. When cooking, steaming is recommended to retain a maximum amount of vitamins. If you boil vegetables, do not leave them in the water too long and close the pan. The cooking water contains many vitamins, so it is wise to re-use it, as soup or broth for example.

Advice on the consumption of fruit and vegetables

Let’s go back to the advice of eating five fruits and vegetables a day. Actually, when talking about this, be aware that this statement does not refer to units of fruits and vegetables, but rather to servings. So in reality, we must eat five servings of fruits and vegetables and not 5 servings of fruit added to 5 servings of vegetables. A serving is about the amount contained in a handful, a handful of strawberries or green beans for example, while a banana is a whole serving in itself. Also, be aware that these fruits and vegetables can be eaten in other forms. As such, a glass of pure orange or tomato juice constitutes one serving.

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Published in Garden cooking by Alexander on 28 Jul 2011