Sure, summer weather is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying all our favorite things about summer! If you’ve been busy in the garden for the past few months, don’t let that last harvest of fruits and veggies go to waste. We’re here to tell you about different methods of preserving your harvest, so you can enjoy that fresh sweet corn in the middle of winter.
Canning is a very common method of food preservation that involves sealing in airtight mason jars. There are many different ways to can – raw or pre-cooked, simple and plain or elaborate and gourmet – the process is up to you. There are two safe ways of canning, the boiling water bath method and the pressure canner method. If you're canning preserves, jams, jellies, pickles, fruits or tomatoes, you can use the boiling water method. All vegetables and meats must use the pressure canner method.
Drying, or dehydrating, food involves removing the liquids from produce to increase their shelf life. While herbs are the most common item to dry, there are many fruits and vegetables that can certainly work as well. Because bacteria need moisture to thrive, removing moisture from your produce will create a poor environment for unwanted microorganisms. If food is dried correctly and stored in a dry, dark place, the shelf life can be increased to one year. After that, produce will begin to lose it’s nutritional value. Trays, your oven, and hanging are all methods that can be used to dry food at home.
While you could freeze any fruit or vegetable you wanted, some of them will work out better than others. In general, freezing will extend shelf life up to a year. Foods can be frozen whole or chopped up, and are then transferred to airtight containers or freezer bags. Seventh Generation blogger The Inkslinger has some great tips and recipes for freezing your harvest.
- Always choose the freshest, ripest, most blemish-free pieces of produce to ensure the most successful preservation, while still retaining nutritional value.
- Prepare all of your tools and equipment at least one day prior to picking the produce that you’ll be preserving.
- Label your projects so you can easily locate and remember which food is which!