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Chop & Freeze Your Vegetable Harvest for Later: Cutting through the misinformation & avoiding mushy beans

There’s nothing better than harvesting and eating fresh, homegrown, and organic vegetables fresh from your garden. Part of harvesting process is being ready to know how to cook, prepare and preserve all that food.

However, the second best thing to eating fresh vegetables from your garden is savoring the taste from your garden in the off-season.

Make the most out of your garden harvest by properly

In this video, learn what the top two questions we receive about preserving & storing your vegetable harvest PLUS …

– The BEST shortcut to storing your tomatoes

– Two vegetables you can simply chop and freeze

– Why can’t you just chop and freeze most vegetables for long term storage?

– How do you freeze vegetables so they don’t get mushy?!

– Plus… the benefits and drawbacks of freezing your garden harvest

Remember: Pulling garden freshness out of the freezer means quick meal preparation!

Growing Celery for Maximum Nutrition and Flavor

Celery Used as Disease Prevention for Thousands of Years

Did you know celery (Apium Graveolens) was used almost exclusively for medicinal purposes from 850 BC through the 17th century? A 2017 phytopharmacological review on celery confirms “…the Apium has emerged as a good source of medicine in treating various diseases.” From weight gain and skin conditions to rheumatic tendencies and chronic pulmonary catarrh, celery is proving itself to be a powerful plant for many ailments and chronic diseases.

Three reasons to grow your own celery

Protect yourself from toxic chemicals. Celery is ranked as one of the Dirty Dozen by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), making it one of the most contaminated produce items on the grocery shelves. When you grow your own, you know exactly how the plants were grown and create a toxic free future for yourself and your loved ones.

Choose foods that are nutrient rich. When you have no idea where your food is actually grown, that’s a big question mark where your health is concerned. Your health starts in the soil, and growing your own food allows you to focus on quality soil. Plus, food starts to decompose the moment it is harvested. There’s no telling how much of those vital nutrients were lost before your food reaches your plate. 

The flavor of homegrown celery will surprise and delight you! It’s easy to overlook celery for flashier vegetables. But that is a big mistake, especially in the garden. Because homegrown celery is so much more fragrant than store bought. You quickly rediscover why it’s been in recipes for thousands of years, not just for its health benefits but for its unique homegrown flavor.

Important Tip No One Talks About When Growing Celery

Growing celery from seed is not recommended for beginners. It is one of the more finicky seeds and takes longer than most to germinate. When you find good quality, celery plants at a trusted nursery or farmers market, you will have more success and faster harvests.

If you can’t find celery plants, growing from seed is still an option. Discover best practices in the Grow Your Own Celery – Cheat Sheet.

How To Grow Nutrient Dense Celery

When inviting plants into your life, it’s important to remember that plants want to thrive. They do whatever it takes to grow strong and turn to seed for the next generation of plants. Your role as a steward is to provide the best conditions for your plants to flourish. Here are the eight considerations when growing celery.

1. Growing Celery is Great for People With Busy Lives

Celery is among one of the easiest plants to care for in the vegetable and herb garden. Once your garden is started, it takes just minutes each day to harvest and care for celery. Luckily, most pests avoid this fragrant herb making it easy to care for too.

2. There IS a Celery Variety for Your Climate 

Plant your celery outside once night temperatures are above 55°F (12°C). Celery grows best in temperatures between 55-80°F (12-26°C). Living in a hot, dry desert climate? You’ll have better success planting in dappled shade or under shade cloth.

A favorite among many gardeners is Tango variety. It performs well under less than ideal growing conditions such as heat and moisture stress. And the flavor is fragrant with stalks that are more tender and less fibrous.

Which other varieties to consider? Tall Utah is an upright plant, rather than one that spreads out. For color, Giant Red or Chinese Pink varieties are a fun way to add some unusual color to your meals.

3. Your Celery Plants Want 6-8 Hours of Sunlight  

Without proper sunlight, your vegetable plants cannot photosynthesize and grow. Your outdoor celery needs 6 hours of sunlight minimum. NOTE: Sunlight and grow lamps are not the same thing. When growing indoors, your celery plants need 16 hours under grow lamps. 

4. Quality Soil Means Nutrient-Rich Food 

Health starts in the soil. If growing in a container, choose a high quality, organic potting mix. If growing in soil, ensure good drainage, structure and fertility. Add a 2” layer minimum of organic compost on the top of your potting mix or soil each growing season.

5. How Many Celery Plants in How Much Space?

Celery is perfect for small gardens. While planting celery 6” (15cm) apart is recommended, squeezing that spacing to 4” has some benefits. It may lower your harvest per plant, but you’ll get more harvest overall since you have additional plants. This is a great option for people with small growing spaces.

For container gardens, choose a container that is 12” (30cm) wide and at least 12” (30cm) deep for four celery plants or cutting celery clusters. This will give you and your family of four several celery stalks for 2 out of 3 meals daily.

6. Water, Water and More Water!

Celery is 95% water by weight, and needs more water than most vegetables. It’s a marshland plant, so it prefers consistent moisture. That means watering each day (temperatures above 70) or every other day (temperatures below 70). Watering celery once a week typically doesn’t work unless you get significant condensation every night in your garden. How do you know if you need more water? If your celery plants wilt, water more. 

Living in a hot, dry desert? Add 6” mulch to the soil which can drop the soil temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit! The soil holds more moisture which keeps roots cooler.

7. How to Harvest Celery for Maximum Yield

You might read that it takes celery 60-80 days before it’s ready for harvest. If you were growing a head of celery like you find at the grocery store, that might be true. But the good news is that you can harvest much sooner with this PRO tip!

PRO Tip for more abundant celery harvests: Cut what you need, when you need it. When the plant has at least 10 stalks, no matter how small they are, start harvesting and enjoying your celery. Simply harvest the outermost stalks and keep at least 7 stalks on the cluster at all times. Your plants may last the entire growing season with this continuous harvest method. That’s WAY better than waiting for one single head of celery!

To harvest, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to remove each outermost stalk as close to the soil as possible. Keep the cuts as clean as possible as old plant material and ragged cuts are places for pests and diseases to fester.

8. Can You Store Celery For Later? 

Like most herbs, it’s best to cut and use celery fresh. After all, that is the benefit of your garden, putting the absolute freshest food on your plate at each meal!  But if you are harvesting a lot of celery at once, water is the trick to keeping celery fresh. One option is to place stalks in a glass of water on the counter. Display the vibrant green harvest while keeping it hydrated until you’re ready to use.  

Celery is a staple in cuisines around the world! If you are considering preserving celery for all your winter soups, use a dehydrator to remove most of the moisture for long term storage. Pro tip: grind your dehydrated celery into a powder and store in an airtight container in a dark cool space to enjoy your harvests year round.

Get the complimentary Grow Your Own Celery – Cheat Sheet with everything you need to grow celery in this two-page printable format. 

Build Your Own Garden Essentials Holiday Gift Basket

There’s no better gift than a gift of health this year! When you help your loved ones garden, you are boosting their immunity and improving the quality of their life. They will thank you all year round… and maybe even send you garden-fresh food in appreciation. 

Whether you’re shopping for a loved one who is new to growing food or a seasoned gardener or anything in between, we’ve got you covered. Get quality essential garden tools and soil fertility supplies so you can save time, work with ease, and maximize your harvest yield and nutrition. And for all you folks who love to give gag gifts and stocking stuffers, check out the fun bonus section!

A Tip for Gift Shopping in A COVID Economy 

This year, it’s all about finding new ways to celebrate our family and community. How special will the gardener in your life feel when you get together with friends and family and pool your resources for a unique gift. Tell everyone to ship one or two garden items to you, then you can create a customized basket. Make sure each item is labeled with the gift giver’s name. And remember to have everyone send a sweet card wishing them an abundant first harvest. 

The Number One Gift Every Grower Needs

The number one tool every new grower needs first is a good garden mentor that can show them the ropes, empower them and support them when they come up against challenges. This is what GrowYourOwnVegetables.org is all about. Here’s three programs that provide the best garden instruction for everyday people. You don’t need a science degree to grow amazing food, just easy to understand lessons.. And right now, take advantage of bonuses worth hundreds of dollars when you grab these courses today. 

 

The Grow Your Own Vegetables Course is ideal for step-by-step methodical people who like thorough instruction and a solid foundation. It’s everything you need to grow any vegetable or herb, anywhere.

The How to Grow $400 of Vegetables & Herbs in 40 Days Course is great for beginners and self starters that want quick results their first 40 days of growing. It’s a fun 40-day garden adventure to kickstart your garden fast.

 

The Superfood Garden Summit features the top garden experts & visionaries to help you create a garden supercharged with nutrients

Holiday Gift Basket: Choose Your Garden Harvest Container

When you’re building your Holiday garden gift basket for your loved one, forget placing the gifts in an actual basket. Instead, use the container as an opportunity to give your loved one of the most essential garden supplies: a harvest container. 

Our top choices for harvest containers are great for small, household gardens. They were chosen based on the following criteria: durability, ease of use, , and multi-functionality. 

RSVP Green Polyester Collapsible Market Basket with Pocket:
This tear and water resistant harvest basket doubles as a basket for grocery shopping. How cool is that?!

 

SAMMART 2.37 Gallon Collapsible Tub with Handle:
BPA Free Collapsible Tub doubles as a basket for grocery shopping too. Plus an extra feature: throw it in the dishwasher for easy washing!

Multipurpose Garden Harvest Basket Mod Hod Blue:
Harvesting fresh from the garden can bring unwanted soil inside This Garden Harvest Basket is ideal for rinsing your harvest outside so you keep your kitchen clean.

Garden Hod, Small:
This wood and metal harvest container makes this the eco-friendly choice. PLUS, it allows you to wash your harvest outside while it’s still IN the basket so you keep your kitchen clean.

Our top harvest container choice for large garden harvests is none other than the original Tub Trug with the flexible 3.7 gallon colander. This flexible and extremely durable harvest container is the number one garden container for all your garden tasks. Made from 100% food grade plastic, these containers are frost and UV resistant!

Great for:

– Collecting and transporting weeds, making weeding easier with less mess.
– Carrying compost and amendments along while you plant seeds and seedlings, You can even DRAG it preventing awkward hauling of bulky bags.
– Washing harvests so you keep the soil out of your kitchen.
– Collecting larger harvests in the garden eliminating back and forth trips.

Holiday Gift Basket Garden Essentials 

When it comes to gardening, there is such a thing as too many tools. The more tools you have, the more cleaning and upkeep you do and the more things you lug around the garden. So when it comes to the essentials, less is best. The most important tools for growers are gloves, pruners and a set of hand tools.

A growers gloves should not be big and bulky (we aren’t going snowboarding here!), but rather be thinner and mold to the growers hands. Showa Atlas Nitrile Garden Gloves are one of the most beloved gloves among gardeners… and for good reason! They’re tough and feel like a second skin.
 

The Flex Dial Bypass Pruners will be the best pruners you’ll 
EVER have. Do your hands get tired pruning and harvesting? 
Adjustable grip fits YOUR hand & reduces fatigue during 
repetitive cuts. Includes full steel core & ComfortGEL Grips.

Choosing a hand tool set is so important! A gardener’s work is physical so it’s vital to care for your body and avoid unnecessary strain. Even having the proper tools can put stress on your body if they are poorly designed or not super durable. 

Originally made for people with arthritis, these stainless steel tools are really just good for anyone wanting to take care of their body. They feature non-slip soft grip handles that keep hands and wrists in a neutral position, taking the stress off hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and backs with the ergonomic design. Choose the long handled set for your loved ones who need to sit while gardening more often and those who are wheelchair bound.

More Holiday Garden Essentials Gifts

If you’re looking for a more complete garden gift basket for your loved ones, the following list are supply essentials that increase productivity and help growers maximize the nutrition and yields of harvests.

Journaling is essential for planning and improving garden skills. But gardening and paper just don’t mix well. When we found this Waterproof and Reusable Journal, we were stoked! YES, seriously… this awesome tear resistant paper is 100% waterproof so you can journal in your garden without worrying about damage. Stone paper is manufactured with ZERO trees with a tiny water footprint so it’s super eco friendly. Plus, it’s REUSABLE if used with Frixion pens.
Nowadays there are all kinds of digital measuring gadgets for growers. They’re very expensive and most aren’t necessary for a successful harvest. And when you’re just starting out, the high-tech garden gizmos can actually make gardening more confusing for new growers. Stick to simplicity with this 3-in-1 Soil Meter that measures the three most important factors for a successful garden all at once! No Battery Needed. Measures pH, moisture, and light.
Every gardener should have a good quality watering wand that quickly and deeply saturates the garden soil without damaging plants. The Dramm One Touch Rain Wand is a GYOV team favorite. The 16” wand allows complete and total water flow control with just one touch of your thumb.

PRO TIP: For successful gardening, watering less often and more deeply is best for plant health. The best method for deep watering is to water lightly, then come back and water more deeply after about 10-15 minutes.

The Holiday Garden Premium Gift Basket Additions

Of course there can be no gardening without seeds and soil fertility! But before we showcase our unique seed finds, you should know: garden set ups are often extremely costly. And if you’re just starting, on a tight budget, or renting your home, you may not want to spend a bunch of money and time on garden set ups only to walk away later. That’s why we love these!

100 Gallon Raised Bed Grow Bags These 4 feet (1.2 meters) diameter, 12 inches (30cm) deep bags have reinforced handles for transport, and they are durable! They last three years in normal gardening conditions. And the best part? They are only $29.99 each. That’s only $10 per year for a whole raised bed. 

Perfect for:

– New gardeners
– Gardeners on the Go
– Growers with physical limitations
– Busy Growers who need to have it done already!

Buy, open, fill with raised bed soil media, and start growing! Built to last, even commercial growers use them. So if you’re looking for the perfect raised bed for your gardener, the 100 Gallon Grow Bag is where it’s at. Need something deeper? Check out the 200 gal bags.
 Oh, and they’re also sustainable, made of food safe recycled plastic and felt!

Garden Holiday Gift Basket Top 3 for Soil Fertility

Soil Fertility is EVERYTHING! Studies show that about 80% of all pest and disease issues come from less than ideal soil conditions. And while chances are your gardener will need more than what might fit in your harvest gift basket, a sampler pack can help set your new grower on the right path. And for seasoned growers, a sampler pack can help them experiment with soil fertility options they might not yet know about.

Worm Poop: Studies show that worm castings improve your plants ability to resist pests and disease. That’s why so many growers add this before planting all their seeds and transplants. Recent analysis of the Urban Worm Company’s castings shows high humic content and nitrogen cycling microbes. And, they’ve got a perfect 2 pound sample bag!

Bio Char: Biochar reduces nutrient leaching and the bioavailability of contaminants in our soils while increasing water retention, microbial life, and overall soil health. It’s superb for increasing your harvest yields and nutrient density. Check out Aries 4- Quart Green Biochar Soil Amendment. It’s the perfect size for a garden gift basket!
*Not recommended for Alkaline soils

Azomite Trace Minerals: Trace minerals should be replaced once a year. This slow release mineralization is vital to plant health and azomite has over 70 trace minerals. The Nitron AZOMITE is micronized into a fine powder that can be applied dry or easily dissolved in water for application. Pro Tip: Apply azomite with a spice shaker.

Garden Holiday Gift Basket Seed Collections

For gift baskets, variety is where it’s at! Luckily, Botanical Interests has a fabulous selection of seed collections. Here’s a list of our favorite collections and who they’re best suited for:

Baby Greens: This collection is great for brand new growers who are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle full of fresh, nutrient dense food or anyone who wants to add a handful of health to every meal. Also a good choice for indoor winter growing.

Chef’s Herb Garden: Some herbs (like rosemary) can be a little tricky to germinate, but overall, this herb collection is a great choice for those interested in a kitchen herb garden and people who just want to dip their toes into the gardening world.

Container Veg: This collection is a great choice for container gardening, raised bed gardening and gardening in small spaces. It’s also a good option for new growers who want to dive in to gardening and learn how to grow a variety of fresh food.

The Heirloom Collection: This collection is for growers with at least a few seasons worth of experience. But we don’t want to deter new growers from going all in either! If your new but you’re diving straight into larger scale homestead gardening, this collection is an amazing collection of seeds. All these open pollinated varieties have been around for at least half a century. Pro Tip: Store seeds in a cool dry dark environment. An airtight container in the fridge works well. They will last much longer this way.

Fall Veg Collection: When most people start growing, they immediately head for the summer season vegetables like our beloved juicy tomatoes! But warm season crops can be more challenging than the cooler season crops. That’s why we like the fall garden collection for new growers. Start with the easy wins like radishes, beets, and kale in the cooler weather of fall… and bonus! These crops can be grown in spring too so you get double the harvest!

Stocking Stuffers and Gag Gifts

The holidays aren’t complete without fun! So we’ve put together a list of some fun stocking stuffers and gag gifts.

 

The Funky Veg Kit:

Taste the rainbow with purple carrots, striped tomatoes, red Brussel sprouts and Bright Lights Chard! The Funky Veg Kit sports 20 non-GMO seeds per variety, the perfect amount for a small vibrant colored garden.

 

Save the Bees Wildflower Seed Bombs:

Wildflowers are beautiful and attract bees and butterflies for pollination! Eight “Throw N’ Grow” organic seed bombs (chemical-free & non-GMO). We love this idea for people who want to have some outside fun with the kids.

The Ultimate Garden Gag Gifts

Authentic Flying Reindeer Droppings: For all the sunflower lovers out there, the non-GMO, pesticide free sunflower seed reindeer poop is sure to bring a laugh this season!
Authentic Elf Droppings: Give your gardener non-GMO, pesticide free vegetable seeds and a laugh with these compost and clay seed pods, err… elf poo! Not just a great gift but a great ice breaker for parties.
Heads up!  This article contains affiliate links. If you click on them and take action, I may be compensated. We choose these products carefully. We have a strict policy of only recommending products we LOVE that will help growers on their journey to a fresh food lifestyle!… well, okay, the elf and reindeer poop is just for fun… but joy is a big part of gardening too, just like the holidays. We hope your season is filled with joy, love, laughter, fresh food flavors, and let’s not forget… health! 

How to protect your garden during a wildfire

Right now, deadly fires rage across the drylands, destroying everything in its path. As ash debris scatters into the air before floating down to blanket the earth, the effects of these fires span miles beyond the fire zones. As a grower, you can not only protect your vegetable and herb gardens from the effects of these wildfires, but you can also help protect your home and neighborhood from fires. 

Protect Your Community from Wildfires

As a grower, you can help protect your community from wildfire devastation using a few simple but effective preventative techniques:

Replace anything made with wood. Since anything made of wood is a contributor that fuels fire, eliminate any structures you can that is made of this material. Replace wooden benches and fences with metal ones, remove any dead branches and dry materials you see on your property. You don’t have to put these branches and dry organic materials in the trash. Put them in your compost pile and be diligent about keeping it moist with the brown to green ratios. 

Automate your irrigation. One of the most powerful tools growers have at their disposal is automated drip line irrigation. This ensures your property gets the proper moisture it needs, reducing dry matter that easily catches fire. Drip line irrigation is also easy to install, saves growers a lot of time spent watering, conserves water, reduces plant pathogens spread through water molecules in the air, and helps prevent water runoff and nutrient leaching.

If the fires get too close and you have to evacuate, you can increase watering times to make sure the ground stays nice and saturated, and help slow the fire down should the fire reach the property. It won’t stop the fire but can give firefighters an edge. Every extra second counts.

Choose alternative building materials. If you’re thinking about building a shed or other structure on your property, consider using natural building materials like rock or cob (a natural building material made from straw, clay, and sand). Cob houses can be insulated with slip straw (a straw soaked in a liquid cob material) that is extremely fire-resistant when properly made.

Let nature help you. Nature is intelligent. Native plants in desert regions are drought tolerant. They require a very low amount of water so they won’t dry out the soil the way plants that need a lot of water will do to desert soils. Many of these desert plants (like succulents) hold large amounts of water in their leaves. 

Replace your water-loving grass lawns and landscape plants with drought-tolerant, native plants. These beautiful and diverse plants can not only create an aesthetic landscape but together, act as a natural water tank against fire.

Ultimately, the goal for prevention is to eliminate anything you can that could fuel the fire. And while one person making these changes won’t save a whole community from burning down, spreading this information to others in your community and encouraging them to implement these strategies can create a fire resistant landscape. 

Protect Your Garden and Harvest from Wildfires

While the ash from trees can actually improve gardens, that’s not the only ash you’re getting in a wildfire. Ash from buildings made with conventional construction materials are laden with chemicals you don’t want in your food. While the construction ash is diluted with the forest ash, you’ll still want to take every precaution you can to reduce chemical contamination.

Cover your garden. If you can, cover your garden with clear or translucent plastic. If you have season extension low tunnels or cold frames over your garden beds, use this to cover the top and reduce ash debris. It won’t eliminate the ash you’ll get from wind drift, but it will help. 

If you don’t have season extension, even covering your garden area with a waterproof tent can reduce chemical ash exposure. Enclose the tent on all four sides but leave the side covers a foot or so off the ground to allow enough air to get in and circulate. Adding a small fan inside the tent will help your plants get the air circulation they need.

Not everyone can cover their whole garden. If this is the case for your situation, you can vastly reduce the amount of ash your soil absorbs by laying plastic weed barriers down on the soil.

Dust wildfire ash off your garden plants. If you notice large amounts of dust on your plant leaves, you’ll want to remove that to make sure the plants can transpire as needed. Dust will block the pores of the leaf (called the stomata) and prevent the plant from cooling. It will also affect the plants ability to absorb sunlight. Gently dust plants with a mildly damp cloth.

Use your best judgment when harvesting in the ash zone of a wildfire. Any amount of construction ash can still be harmful. Covering your garden will help, but you’ll still want to take precautions when harvesting.

Luckily fruiting crops like tomatoes don’t absorb through the skins of the fruit. Still, wash fruits three times to ensure you’ve removed all the ash debris. Use a soft brush on the more porous fruiting crops (like beans) while washing. As an extra precaution, peel fruiting crops that can be peeled and dispose of the peel. 

For root crops, so long as a large amount of ash doesn’t fall on the garden and get absorbed into the soil, you can safely harvest roots and give them an extra rinse or two. However, cut and dispose of any root tops exposed above ground.

For herbs and leafy crops, you’ll want to take the most precaution. Leaves are more absorbent and porous so there is more potential for contamination. Leaves that are soft and fuzzy (like sage and comfrey) should not be eaten. If you’re farther away from the fire and the ash is light and you’ve been dusting the leaves, you’ll still want to wash your shiny leafy greens multiple times. 

The closer you are to the fire, the less you should harvest. Pay close attention to the health of your plant and consider how much ash your plant is being exposed to. If there’s a thick heavy layer of ash or you’re downwind from a construction zone burn, don’t harvest. It’s better to be safe. 

The good news is, that doesn’t mean you have to start all over and lose your plants! Instead, take note of where the ash is, dust leaves and remove as much ash from the soil as you can. Once the fire is out and the air has cleared, remove as many leaves as you can. For crops like kale and chard, remove all but the 3-5 inner most leaves. For lettuce, cut the whole head off about 3” above the soil line (most lettuces will grow back again if not cut too short). For herbs, prune them as deeply as you can. Once the new growth has appeared, you can begin harvesting again.

Gardening in Wildfire Country: It’s Not All Bad News

While wildfires require gardeners take extra steps to protect their vegetable and herb harvests, it’s not all bad news. There are some side benefits our gardens get from wildfires too. Knowing the benefits, you can capitalize on them, bringing the most benefit to your garden possible.

In desert drylands where fires are most prevalent, the sunlight is very intense. This high-intensity heat can cause plant burn and heat stress that lower plant immunity and make them more susceptible to pests and disease. It also dries out any exposed soil, rendering it barren. Barren soils have less insulative properties than fertile soils resulting in more extreme temperature swings that accelerate climate change.

The debris from wildfires diffuses sunlight. The soil and plants receive relief from the intense heat and light. And the diffused light also allows the vegetation to absorb light in areas that normally don’t receive it, reaching even the lowest leaves of plants. This increases plant vigor, producing healthier, happier plants. To get the most gain out of this, leave as many leaves on the plant that you can and keep your plants dusted. This will increase the chances the plant survives and thrives through the wildfire ash zones.

Wildfires also release a high amount of carbon dioxide into the air. While this isn’t a good thing, if your plants are dusted, they can get a super dose of this and increase their ability to thrive through an ash zone.

Fires also break down nutrients and minerals at rapid speed, paving way for super healthy growth. This new growth is nutrient-dense, providing a higher quality of pollen and nectar for our precious beneficials and pollinators. This brings growers an opportunity to increase their beneficial population. Take advantage of the post-fire opportunity by increasing the native plants that provide habitats for our precious beneficials.

Important Note from the GYOV Team

With thousands forced to evacuate and many more thousands dealing with poor air quality and other consequences caused by the wildfires, our thoughts are with you. Our hearts go out to those experiencing loss and we send our blessings to all of you. We hope the information in this article will help you harvest confidently during this challenging time, reduce future devastation to our communities, and rebuild stronger, thriving ecosystems. 

 

Cutting Boards for Fresh Food Safety

Food safety practices are important… especially when you start preserving and storing food. You’ve probably heard about sterilizing jars, and cleaning kitchen utensils properly. These are common practices to keep the bad microbes out of our food. But quite often, the one tool that’s overlooked is your cutting board. 

When chopping fresh produce, it’s vital to have a cutting board that won’t create biofilms and harbor the kind of bacteria you don’t want to ingest. If you’re preserving your food for later – whether blanching, freezing, canning, drying or fermenting – it’s even more important. Having a good quality cutting board is the foundation for keeping you and your loved ones safe.  

Simply put, a good cutting board is the one place you don’t want to skimp on. But what is the safest cutting board?  

Plastic, Glass, or Wood?

Many people think that plastic cutting boards are safer than wood. Even the USDA’s Food News for Consumers has recommended plastic over wood cutting boards. 

However, more recent studies reveal that plastic is not as safe as we think. According to the study, glass is the superior choice, followed by wood. Glass has a smooth surface, so no gaps to harbor bacteria. The problem with glass cutting boards is that the hard surface is hard on knives and might cause food-slippage accidents. Be careful! 

Wood however, does not cause slipping the way glass does and is easier on your knives. Wood also has an antibacterial effect not found in glass or plastic boards that scientists are still trying to understand. What’s more, wood doesn’t require harsh sanitizing the way plastic boards do. Once a plastic surface has been cut into, the grooves can harbor all kinds of bacteria and require sanitizing with harsh chemicals. But as time goes on and more grooves appear, sanitizing your plastic cutting board may become less and less effective. 

Sterilizing your wood cutting boards is easy and doesn’t require harsh chemicals. What’s fascinating about this study is that the scientists researching expected to find plastic cutting boards to be safer. Their intention was to discover how to clean wood to increase its safety. So they were quite surprised to discover that wood – specifically well maintained, close-grained hardwood cutting boards – were less prone to contamination.

PRO TIP: Historically, butchers used salt to keep the ‘bad’ smell away. Perhaps they also knew that using the salt kept people healthy, but there’s no record of that. Regardless, they had the right idea. Rinse your cutting board with warm water, sprinkle your cutting board with salt and rub the salt into the board using a lemon cut in half (flesh side down). Let sit for five minutes, rinse and let air dry in a place with good circulation. 

What kind of wood is best for your Cutting Board?

According to the study, hardwoods are best. When you think of hardwood, you might think oak, mahogany, or maple. It’s true that these woods are harder than pine, chestnut, cherry, and even walnut. But they aren’t the BEST hardwoods for prepping your ferments, preserves  and fresh food. It’s hard to imagine, but these woods are soft in comparison to other hardwoods. One quick look at a Janka chart will reveal just how soft in comparison these woods really are. 

The Janka Scale Reveals the Best Wood Choice for Cutting Boards

Wood is measured by its hardness using a process called the Janka scale. This test measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444″ steel ball into the wood to half of the diameter of the particular wood. Woods with higher ratings are harder than woods with lower ratings.

So for example, Genuine Mahogany measures 800 and English Brown Oak rates at 1360. The scale goes all the way up to 4380! While you don’t need the hardest wood on the planet to safely cut your vegetables for ferments and preserves, it’s a good idea to find something that has at least a 2500 rating. Even though maple is the industry standard (1,450 on the Janka scale), a harder wood will be more scratch and impact resistant, leaving you with a safer cutting board.

Check out this amazing cutting board, the Stella Falone Reversible Cutting Board made of solid West African Crelicam Ebony Wood. Not only is it made from a hardwood measuring at a whopping 3080 on the Janka Scale, but it’s made by a company that harvests ethically, replants what they harvest, and pays stable living wages to workers. 


If you’re looking for a more affordable option, these mixed wood cutting boards made with Purpleheart Wood (2520 Janka Scale) are also good options.  Here’s a pretty one that could double as a fancy food tray at your next party. It’s a Ziruma Teak and Purpleheart Wood Cheese Board and it’s cured with Organic Beeswax, too.
 

 

 

The Downside of Supremely Hardwood Cutting Boards

Yes it’s true, there’s a downside. The hardwood cutting boards ranked higher on the Janka scale will dull your knives a little faster. But it’s a small price to pay for better protection for your health and well being. Simply choose good quality knives, and sharpen your knives more often.

Ultimately, the cutting board with the least potential for bacterial contamination is glass… but the safest cutting board? Hands down, properly cared for hardwood cutting boards are safer with no slippage plus antibacterial properties. Plus, these beautiful cutting boards can also be a fancy food tray for your parties. Enjoy!

AK, N., CLIVER, D. and KASPAR, C. (1993). Decontamination of Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards for Kitchen Use. [online] Available at: https://meridian.allenpress.com/jfp/article/57/1/23/195718/Decontamination-of-Plastic-and-Wooden-Cutting [Accessed 7 Mar. 2020].