My garden is starting to burst with fresh vegetables and fruits. We’ve already gone strawberry picking, and the raspberries are coming in daily at this point. In a few weeks the blueberries will be here, too. As tomatoes ripen, I know I’ll have to have a few ideas for getting those on my shelves or in my freezer because I just won’t be able to eat them all before they go bad.
This isn’t a bad problem to have, and living in a cold climate, access to fruits and vegetables in the winter is completely different than in the summer. The farmers markets close, and the fresh produce that is available consists primarily of stored apples and squash and things that are trucked in. Putting up produce at its freshest helps preserve the summer harvest for enjoyment all year round.
Here are a few recipes and different ways you can make the most of the season.
My favorite pickled item is a green bean. Crisp and crunchy, they’re great as an appetizer or a fresh little bite on your summer plate. I’ve been known to stuff them inside turkey sandwiches instead of pickles, too.
Source: Pickled Green Beans | Simple Bites
Jam is an obvious answer to an overabundance of fruit, and I have to admit that I am a fan of spreading it on toast, baking it into jam bars and easy tarts, and turning it into ice cream topping just by heating it up a bit.
Source: Peach Raspberry White Wine Jam | Food for My Family
Living in a cold climate, I’m always excited when I can get my hands on stone fruits. I want to buy them by the bushel and just will them to be ripe forever. That won’t happen though, and a great way to keep them around longer is to just can them whole.
Source: Whole Plums in Honey | Food in Jars
Yes, you can make your own canned tomatoes, even tomato paste. Tomato paste from garden fresh tomatoes has flavor, which is why you can it and save it, and that’s why there are companies that do it. Off-season tomatoes are tasteless, but sealing in that summer flavor is definitely worthwhile.
Source: Homemade Tomato Paste | Food in Jars
Tiny orbs bursting with sweetness, cherries are a summertime treat I never really get tired of. It’s too bad they seem gone by the time I even start to have my fill. Putting them up in small batches is a great way to get just enough to pull out in the middle of winter when you need a taste of the sunshine.
Source: Amaretto Cherries | My Kitchen Addiction
I love sauerkraut and have since I was young. I used to beg my grandma to make it for Sunday dinners, much to my father’s dismay. Sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented foods contain healthy probiotics and promote healthy gut bacteria.
Source: Basic Lacto-Fermentation Salsa and Pickles | Simple Bites
The almighty pickle. It’s the building blocks of all other preserving, I feel like, and so I taught my kids how a few years ago. It was a great way to get them involved in canning and to teach them about savoring summer.
Source: Dill Pickles | Food Your Way
If canning isn’t your thing, try freezing fruits and vegetables. Several years ago we received a chest freezer, and ever since we’ve used it for bulk purchases of grass-fed beef and freezing vegetables. Some of my favorites to stick in there are stewed tomatoes, broccoli, and zucchini. I like to shred it before blanching and measure it out so it’s ready to go into pancakes or zucchini bread straight from the container.
Source: Freezing Vegetables Guide | Garden Guides
Another great way of keeping food around is by sucking the juice out of it. Dehydration makes for an easy way to use up tomatoes and peaches. Tomatoes are great on salads and in sauces for bursts of flavor, and any dried fruit to me is as good as a fruit snack for a sweet treat.
Source: Dehydrated Tomatoes | Real Food Forager
|Shaina Olmanson is the home cook and photographer behind Food for My Family and the author of Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine. She is a contributor to Babble.com’s Family Kitchen Blog and the food channel on Lifetime Moms. Shaina can usually be found cooking, at the computer or behind the camera.