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September 10, 2021


Preserving the harvest is the last step -- turning a challenge into a joy!

Susan Jensen

Whether we’ve grown our own produce, have a generous neighbor, or are finding good sales on this season’s bounty, figuring out ways to use it can be tough. We’ve all experienced the guilt of letting a bag of lovely produce go past its prime.  Here are some fun ideas for storing things for future use. 

Freezing: Almost anything can be stored frozen with the main limitation being the amount of freezer space. I’m dealing with zucchini this way -- freezing grilled slabs and raw spiralized noodles. Peas are nice when blanched then frozen. Beans are great sauteed with oil or bacon then frozen. Tomatoes, grapes and blueberries can go into a ziplock and in the freezer. Google is my friend when deciding how best to freeze something. If you have a chest freezer, investing in a vacuum sealer keeps things longer and they look so appetizing in their clear packages.

Dehydrating: A dehydrator can be picked up in a thrift store or shared with a neighbor. Or newer ovens have 125 degree F settings that allow for dehydrating. Either option opens up interesting ways to preserve fruits and vegetables. This year I dried raspberries and cherries for snacking, and am making tomato, squash, and mushroom powders for cooking. Then there’s kale chips, fruit leathers… so many possibilities depending on what you like. I put dehydrated stuff in the fridge or freezer until I’m ready to use it.

Canning, salting, pickling: If you have the time, equipment and knowledge to safely can, then you probably don’t need to be reading this article! Canning jams and vegetables is a huge tradition but can be intimidating. Alternatives to proper canning include freezer jams, salting (think homemade sauerkraut) or quick pickled vegetables that can be stored in the fridge and eaten this fall.

Juicing: Greens and fruits can be juiced (or blended and strained) as a way to use up extras.

Alcohol: There’s always winemaking, but to borrow an idea from a European friend, how about preserving fruit in alcohol to make fruit liqueur? She got a head start with strawberries, raspberries and cherries with sugar in gin and vodka in an assortment of one gallon jugs that are already drinkable.  Recommended late season fruits I want to try are plums, peaches and apricots covered in sugar and brandy to make dessert toppings and liqueurs for the holidays. 

Cool storage: This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning cool storage. Root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and turnips need moisture so can be harvested as needed and the rest left in the ground until frost. Once harvested, leave an inch of the stems of each on the top, and store in bags in an unheated area. Winter squash, onions and garlic need dry storage with air circulation so they stay nice.

Even if what you’re preserving doesn’t seem like much at the time, it is fun to remember the season by making a special meal in winter with something from the garden.

Thank you for reading over the Spring and Summer




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