Canning can be a great option for preserving your harvest. You can can almost any fruit or vegetable. It can be a tedious task but if done correctly you can save your harvest for up to a year. Check out this website for canning instructions.
When you think pickling you probably think well, pickles. However pickling is no longer just for cucumbers. It can actually be for almost any fruit or vegetable! Pickling is fairly easy and it is a great way to keep your harvest preserved for about a year. Some pickled products can be canned, some are done in the refrigerator and can be consumed the same day. Check out this video for more information and recipes for pickling.
Can you think of the most popular fermented food? Hint: it goes good on hot dogs… that’s right sauerkraut! Once the humble cabbage is fermented it turns into its alter-ego sauerkraut. It is possible to make sauerkraut at home. This article talks about food safety issues and has a nice recipe.
Fruits- summer fruits are actually quite easy and convenient to freeze if you intend to cook, bake, or make smoothies with them in the off season. First, you want to prepare your fruits as if you were going to use them right away (i.e. peel, core, remove pits, chop into pieces). After that is completed you will lay the pieces in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the fruit pieces are frozen all the way through. Take the frozen fruit and place the pieces in a freezer bag! If you put the pieces of fruit into the bag without freezing first they will freeze in clumps and you will be unable to use a serving at a time. Note that frozen fruit does not thaw in a pretty way, so you will not want to plan on decorating a cake or dessert with frozen fruit instead put it inside the cake or dessert! This website explains freezing summer fruit further.
Vegetables- Many vegetables freeze very well. The only vegetables you want to avoid freezing are vegetables that you wouldn’t normally cook (i.e. lettuce, cucumber, celery). It is fairly simple to freeze vegetables. First, you want to bring water to a boil and blanch any vegetables you plan on freezing. When you take the vegetables from the boiling water place them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Next, place the vegetables on a cookie sheet to dry thoroughly. When the vegetables are dry you can place in a heavy duty freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible. As an added precaution to freezer burn you may choose to wrap the bag in tin foil. Check out this website for more on freezing vegetables!
Herbs- Freezing herbs is exceptionally easy. First, clean and chop your herbs as you would if you were using them right away. Pack ice cube trays with with the herbs until each section is almost full. Lastly you fill the rest of the section with water or olive oil. Olive oil is best if you plan to cook with the herbs, water is best if you plan on adding them to soups, stocks, or sauces. Click here for more advice, and photos!
Drying fruit can be a tedious task because it takes time and dehydrators can be quite pricey. If you already have a dehydrator then this is definitely a great option for keeping your fruit for a few extra months. If you don’t have a dehydrator we found out that you can dry your fruit in your oven! The folks at The Kitchen found out that it is quite simple to dehydrate fruit by setting your oven to 200 degree fahrenheit, placing your fruit on a cookie sheet or wire wrack, and leave it for about 6-8 hours depending on the fruit. This process is essentially hands off, though you may want to opt to turn your fruit every few hours for even drying.
These are just a few of the unique ways to preserve your bounty! If you feel so inclined you could still share with your friends and family, but at least now you don’t have to! Enjoy your harvest until next year!