Friday, August 24, 2012

3 Methods to Preserve the Garden’s Bounty

It’s that time of year when the garden is busy producing bushels of beans, pecks of peppers and baskets full of tomatoes. It’s also the time when farmers markets are ripe with fresh fruits and vegetables being sold at their lowest prices. So, how can you stock up on this abundance of produce and preserve it to last until next season? By freezing, canning and dehydrating, that’s how.

Freezing Fruits and Vegetables

There are lots of fruits and vegetables that can be frozen after a quick blanching. Blanching is the simple process of adding fruits and vegetables to boiling water for a few minutes at a time and then plunging them into a bath of iced water to stop the cooking process. After patting them dry, simply place in freezer bags or containers, label with the date and name of contents and pop into the freezer. This method of preservation keeps fruits and vegetables good for about 8 – 12 months.

Canning Fruits and Vegetables

Canning and preserving fruits and vegetables from the garden is a classic way to preserve the garden’s harvest. With a few pieces of canning equipment, the right spices and a step by step recipe, you can preserve and store pickles, jams, whole fruits and vegetables, sauces and more for up to a year or more.

There are lots of great books on canning and preserving, my favorite being Blue Ribbon Preserves, and lots of free canning recipes online. Whether you’re a beginner or not, you’re sure to find lots of timeless and new recipes to try.

Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables

Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is yet another way to preserve your harvest. This method of preservation can be done in 8 - 10 hours in a food dehydrator or oven. The produce dries instead of baking because it cooks at a low temperature. Dehydrated foods can last up to a year when stored properly.

You can use one or all 3 ways to preserve your garden’s harvest. Personally, I use the freezing and canning methods each year, though this year, I’m going to try dehydrating some peaches and pears from my fruit trees. Which methods of preservation would you like to try?

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