4 Easy Food Preservation Methods to Save the Season
Believe it or not, summer often poses a challenge for our local farmers. As they are harvesting an abundance of tomatoes, corn, peppers and other delicious crops, consumers are often taking a break from visiting their local farmers markets or their weekly Fresh Harvest deliveries.
So, how do you make the most of the season when you can’t eat it all right now? Preserve! Here are four easy food preservation methods to savor that amazing summer produce for the year ahead.
Drying for Food Preservation
The easiest and most foolproof way to preserve fruits and vegetables is through dehydrating. For most produce, you can use a dehydrator, your oven, or simply air dry by a window. Dehydrated foods can last for months and are super easy to rehydrate into a dish or process into a powder.
Here are a couple summer items you can easily make last through the winter:
Without a doubt, the most versatile product you can get out of drying these summer snacks is tomato powder. This useful byproduct is the main ingredient for homemade tomato paste, tomato sauce, pizza sauce and tomato soup among many others. Take a look at this blog for an easy step-by-step recipe for dehydrating those extra tomatoes!
Why buy pricy dried herbs from far away when you can easily make them at home using the best of our Georgia harvest? Air drying is the easiest method. Just bunch them together with a tie and hang them upside down next to a window in your house or even your car. Once dry, take a mortar and pestle to those babies and throw them in a mason jar for later use. Dried herbs are best stored away from sunlight and direct heat.
Freezing for Food Preservation
Freezing produce is pretty straightforward, but there are a few tricks that you don’t want to miss! To retain color, most produce needs to be blanched (dropped in boiling water then quickly thrown into an ice bath). Also, if you’re freezing fruits whole, be sure to dry them thoroughly before freezing and store in an airtight container.
One of our favorite freezer items are Smoothie Cubes! Got a pile of droopy summer greens in the fridge? Maybe you’ve spied some apples in the crisper on their last leg? The smoothie cube is your answer. All you need is a knife, a blender (we recommend a Vitamix), and some ice cube trays to alter the destiny of that nearly forgotten produce. This method works with just about any fruit and vegetable combination. Throw a bunch of spinach, an apple, and a beet into the blender with some water until smooth. Pour into an empty ice cube tray and you’ll be ready for world class smoothies overnight!
Pack in Oil for Food Preservation
For hundreds of years our ancestors have been storing summer’s leftovers in their cellars, freezers and cabinets long after the last crop dries up or freezes over. Olive oil has been used for its qualities as a natural preservative, isolating food from air to create a natural seal.
Plus, vegetables packed in oil are so delicious and versatile – you can toss with pasta for a quick meal, jazz up a salad, or throw ‘em on a sandwich! The key with this preservation method is to only used cooked vegetables and herbs. Check out this full guide for Preserving Veggies in Olive Oil and you can always freeze your oil packed veggies if you’re unsure about leaving them in the fridge!
Pickling for Food Preservation
Don’t be intimidated by pickling! Almost any vegetable can be pickled and the size and shape is totally up to you! Cut your cukes into spears or slice them thin, cut carrots into coins, peel them or don’t – you’re the chef!
If you’re just starting out, try the approachable quick pickle, where vegetables are preserved in the fridge (no canning required!). Although this type of pickle doesn’t develop the same deep fermented flavor of canned pickles, it is a perfect way to preserve your veggies! Check out this recipe for Pickled Chard Stems or, for a more in-depth guide, look no further than Saving the Season. This book is broken up by season, with amazing recipes for canning, pickling and preserving all throughout the year.
With a basket of Georgia’s best summer produce and a little prep time in the kitchen, you can easily make summer last without resorting to buying out-of-season produce from far away. We hope you try some of these easy food preservation methods for yourself!
This is a guest blog post from Fresh Harvest! Fresh Harvest provides weekly deliveries of local organic produce and groceries across Metro Atlanta and Athens. Items are sourced from over 20 local farms and 75 artisans to deliver only the highest quality items straight to your door.