Preserving Summer: How to Take Your Harvest Through Winter
Now that you've tended your garden, the next step is eating it all, and while you're enjoying eating fresh vegetables, salsas, turning each day's produce into dinner, what will you do with the excess? Plus, the harvest won't continue all year. Come November you'll be stuck with potatoes and root vegetables and winter squash once again. This is where frezing, drying and canning come in.
Preserving the harvest has been going on long before it became trendy to eat real food: organic, whole and local. And if you once turned up your nose at the thought of boiling cans and placing them in a cellar or pantry, think again. Plus, canning and preserving isn't just for home gardeners. You can can and preserve all the farmer's market finds that are in season right now. You'll save money, and you'll benefit greatly come winter.
A Few Reasons Why:
*Preserving saves you money.
*It is environmentally friendly.
*Canning cuts down on waste.
*It’s fresher and tastes better.
A Few Ways How:
*Freezing: Blanch vegetables in boiling water just until color pops; this seals nutrients in. Place on baking sheets and freeze until firm and then place in freezer containers or zip-top bags. I did this with several blueberries and strawberries to be added to smoothies and crumbles and cakes and pies later. I have every intention on adding a few pounds of peaches to the freezer as well.
*Drying: Using a food dehydrator, slice and dry fruits (and vegetables?) until water is eliminated and they are dry and wrinkly. Store in airtight packages. You can also cook food into purees such as applesauce to make fruit leather.
*Canning: Canning is a bit more involved, but it is a great method for storing large quantities of food for long periods of time without having to find the freezer space to store it in. For a step-by-step to the basics, check out my post on canning basics.
Do you preserve food? Do you have a favorite canning recipe you'd like to share?