Your counters are covered, windowsills lined with lovely ripening fruit, bowls of beans, towers of cucurbits. The tide has finally turned and the treasures of your faithfully nurtured plants are yours! You are rich in the fruits of your labor but you can only eat so much each day. And it keeps coming. In December you will praise your forethought if you spend a little time each day preserving the jewels of summer.
I require a laissez faire approach to preserving because canning makes me nervous around the kids. Consequently, I freeze a lot. Luckily, tomatoes are brilliant when frozen and often I just cut them into quarters and put them in a bag. Most often I chop them first. I like to make sauce on my own time when summer has settled down a bit, this way I freeze while the harvest is high and then come November make sauce. You can easily dedicate 15 minutes a day to tomato chopping and freezing. You would be surprised at how much you can do in a little time. Later, your pizza marguerita will be gourmet!
You can also process tomatoes in a food processor to freeze as puree. Seeds don’t bother us, but you can put it through a little food mill if you want a smoother product. We also freeze large amounts of basil leaves whole stuffed into a bag to be crushed later into sauces. Pesto, of course, freezes beautifully in muffin tins or ice cube trays for use later in the season. Finally all that zucchini, whether overlarge or perfectly tender can be julienned with carrots, red cabbage or peppers and frozen for use in soups, veggie burgers or vegetable pakoras all winter.
Drying and Fermentation
Drying or using oil for preservation is another low input way to preserve foods. If you are off the grid or trying to minimize your energy usage the book, Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning, is a wonderful resource by the gardeners and farmers of Terre Vivant. It includes many methods for preservation including salting, fermenting, dehydrating, oil and root cellaring.
If fermenting is your interest we carry both of Sandor Katz’ books. The very utilitarian Wild Fermentation and the more in-depth and informative The Art of Fermentation. Fermenting is a fabulous way to increase nutritional value of your food and to utilize your abundant harvest over a long period of time. I mean, who can eat 25 heads of cabbage at a time?!
We can some foods like relish, southern chow-chow and salsa. For us, these foods are a priority for canning because you just can’t get the same product another way. Believe me, DON’T freeze your salsa. Been there, done that. Sow True Seed carries Put Em’ Up! by Sheri Brooks Vinton for the canning recipes and ideas you need.
An oft overlooked way of using your summer harvest is by making juice. The new publication Drink the Harvest (written by Ashevillian Nan Chase and DeNiece Guest) reminds us that juices, meads, wines, teas and syrups are all ways we can use summer fruits, vegetables and herbs. Gleaning fruits like crabapples in urban or suburban areas offers ample opportunity to use foods that otherwise go to waste. Juice or wine is an ideal solution. This book will show you how.
Do a little each day and the harvest will reward you all year long.
Written by Sow True Seed blogger Megan Schneider.