Preserving Your Harvest
There is a sense of gratification when I step into my pantry and see the neat rows of canning jars lined up on the top shelves. There will be an abundance of pickles, jams, preserves, salsa and chutney for friends and family in the off-season. Preserving fruits and vegetables at the peak of their growing season when they are abundant and packed with flavor, vitamins and nutrients is an inexpensive way to have chemical-free food to prolong the freshness of summer.
Eat Fresh All Year
Putting away your harvest is the best way to use everything you grow with no waste. Even if you don’t grow your own vegetables, the local farmers market and many forms of community supported agriculture has a plentiful supply to choose from. Many times, a fruit tree or garden will produce more fruit than one family can use. Trade your extras with someone or offer to pick someone’s garden while they are on vacation. If your garden has produced too many tomatoes and cucumbers, swap with a friend who has blueberries or a pear tree. In addition, choosing crops to grow that can be stored for a long time, such as potatoes, onions, garlic, dry beans or winter squash allows you to eat fresh from your garden all winter.
Freezing Your Harvest
Freezing is simple and can be done in small batches as you accumulate extras. Different vegetables can be combined, ready to toss into soups or pastas. Many beans are best frozen in bags with water to prevent freezer burn and keep their fresh taste. Freezing herbs in ice cube trays make them convenient to freshen up a winter dish.
There are many new appliances that make preserving food simple, safe and healthy. Most of the items needed are simple, standard kitchen equipment. Properly canned foods can last for more than a year. Boiling water bath canning is one of the easiest and most popular methods. Sterile jars are filled with luscious jams, pickles, etc. and submerged in boiling water for set amount of time.* In canning, all jars, lids, and rings need to be sterilized in boiling water, the dishwasher or microwave before filling. New lids should always be used but jars and rings can be sterilized and reused. Strictly adhering to proper timetables for each specific product you are canning is essential for safety. Pressure canning is safer, faster and more accurate and can be used for more foods than the boiling water bath.
* Please refer to a canning safety guide for individual fruits and vegetables and the method that should be used with each. What is suggested for one type of food may not work for another. Safety is key in home canning!
Flavor & Safety
Consider flavor and safety when choosing the preservation method. The acids in fruits and vegetables help to keep them. The more acidic the food the more options you have. Most fruits are acidic enough for a boiling water bath canner. Most vegetables need to be pressure canned to kill bacteria. The method best for strawberries is freezing, to best preserve their flavor. Specific guidelines should always be adhered to and can be found at the local extension agency.
Even if you do not grow your own vegetables, preservation makes sense because you can use seasonal fruits and vegetables when they are abundant and cheaply store them for the winter months to come.
Enjoy! Watching those neat jars of home canned goodness accumulate on your pantry shelves produces a sense of pride that you have used your harvest to its fullest. We atFairviewcan help get you started with vegetables, fruit trees and tips on how to begin!
See You Soon!
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