If you're in a region with seasons, you're in a place with seasonal food. And that means some seasons are going to be just plain better than others (no offense, winter). Luckily, there are a LOT of ways to preserve summer (and spring and fall) bounty for colder months. While some preserving methods require specific materials (like jars for canning), some are as simple as freezing things in the right way.
REASONS TO PRESERVE YOUR FOOD
- Take advantage of the plentiful season
- Continue to eat yummy, healthy, local food, even when your home is blanketed in snow
- It's a fun activity with family and friends
- Summer treats make delicious and impressive holiday gifts
What to Can
Because canning can be unhealthy when done incorrectly, I'm linking you up to excellent recipes, which should be followed with care.
- Tomatoes (above, back row) are easy to can and incredibly useful year-round. You can preserve them whole/crushed [recipe] or as sauce [recipe] or salsa [recipe].
- Peaches (above, front row) are also easy. They make a great treat when pears and apples are all you can get in season. [Recipe]
- Jams and jellies make it possible to can all sorts of summer fruits. Jams made out of summer berries or stone fruit are great year-round on toast, ice cream, or yogurt, and make excellent gifts. [Recipes]
- Apple sauce (right) is another easy item to can. Though apples are usually available throughout the winter, I find that canned apple sauce continues to be a special treat. [Recipe]
What to freeze
- Summer stone fruits and berries can also be frozen. Though less beautiful than canning, it's faster and easier. When
freezing summer fruit, spread the pieces out on a large cookie sheet and place it in the freezer over night. The next day, snap pieces off the sheet and bag them up. This will keep the fruit from freezing together in one giant, impossible-to-defrost mass.
- If you don't want to can tomatoes, try making a tomato sauce and refrigerating or freezing it. Let the sauce cool before placing it in small tupperware containers. Then you'll be ready to heat up just the amount you need.
- Basil can be frozen in liquid form. Blend it with olive oil (like you're making pesto) and then ladle it out into small tupperware containers or an ice cube tray. Basil in an ice cube tray can be popped out and bagged once it's frozen solid, so you can heat up whatever number of cubes you need.
- Pesto can be frozen, too. Blend the basil, olive oil, nuts, and garlic when freezing (leave our cheese, as it doesn't freeze well). When you defrost, simply add cheese and a bit more olive oil to help liven it up and make it taste fresh before serving.
What to dry
- If you have a dehydrator, you can dry a lot of summer treats, from slices of stone fruit to hot peppers. But not a lot of people want to give up that kind of counter space (myself included!).
- Without a dehydrator, fresh herbs can still be dried by hand. Simply hang them upside-down in your kitchen for a week until thoroughly dry. Then grind (with a very clean coffee grinder) or crumble (by hand) and put them in a jar. You'll notice the stronger, more vibrant flavors achieved by home-dried herbs when you cook with them.