During these late summer months, you will often find me in a flurry throughout our kitchen. I am often found slicing vegetables fresh from the garden, stirring large, witchy-like pots for canning & whirling the food processor into the late evening hours.
When we purchased this farm almost a month ago, we inherited a beast of a garden. We are not complaining about our 40 tomato plants or several rows of corn, but the thrifty side of me must save every vegetable I can. Whether it is freezing, canning or drying, I am determined to enjoy every vegetable this dear garden has grown.
Many people ask me how I learned to preserve food. It's simple, really. I read books & researched blogs for bits of information. I followed directions and I experimented. The kitchen is a creative place & one where I am always learning.
Today I would like to share with you a few techniques, skills and resources I have learned & used throughout my years of preserving this season's bountiful harvest.
1. Freezing is your friend. I often feel a little lazy when I resort to freezing our garden goodies, but this way of preserving is much easier & takes up far less time than canning. I often freeze tomato sauces, bell peppers & fruits - just to name a few- during the summer months. Tomato sauces can be made by removing the skins & core from the tomato, draining them & adding them to a food processor until your preferred consistency is reached. Individual fruits and vegetables can be frozen by chopping them into your prefered size & freezing them on a baking sheet (to prevent the produce sticking to one another). I would recommend investing in a deep freeze if you have the space, but we only invested just recently in one. Before purchasing our deep freeze, we stored everything in freezer bags in our regular freezer with ease.
2. If you have the time, canning can be incredibly rewarding and aesthetically pleasing. My favorite canning book is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It has some really fantastic water-bath canning recipes that are great for beginners. Another great resource is the Food in Jars blog. She has a wealth of knowledge & interesting recipes to share.
3. Drying food is a skill some may forget about, but is a delicious way to preserve food. We use a basic dehydrator for drying our vegetables, fruits & herbs. We make apple chips & dry herbs for salves & ointments. We love using dried peppers in dishes throughout the winter months. It's a tasty & easy way to enjoy the summer bounty.
I hope you enjoyed these tips for preserving the harvest. If you don't have your own garden, the farmers' market is boasting with delicious, affordable fruits & vegetables during this time of year. Purchase a basket of tomatoes & try your hand at a delicious homemade tomato sauce you can freeze or can.
How do you preserve the summer's bounty?