Harvest all vegetables as they mature, at their best stage for eating. Many vegetables, such as beans, okra and squash, quit producing if not harvested on a regular basis.
Harvesting at the right stage is also a must if you plan to do any canning or freezing. The final quality of your preserved vegetables is no better than the quality you begin with. Many gardeners consume most of their vegetables fresh and can or freeze what is left over. Avoid this practice if at all possible. Vegetables that you can or freeze should be identical in quality to those that are consumed fresh.
To maintain quality after harvest, handle vegetables very carefully. Avoid bruising or damaging them as this encourages decay and a short storage life. Some vegetables, such as sweet corn, peas, asparagus and leafy vegetables, should be cooled to between 35°F to 40°F as soon as possible.
Keep the time between harvesting and eating or preserving vegetables as short as possible. Many vegetables lose flavor and vitamin content if stored too long.¶