Eating seasonally and locally means that not everything is available all the time, and we’ve grown accustomed to this in our home. Personally, I have come to enjoy the routine – leafy greens and asparagus in May, cherries and peas in June, blueberries, corn, beans and squash in July, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in August and so on. In the summer, I get busy preserving food from the garden and the local farmer’s market so I can enjoy my favorites all year long.
The challenge lies with winter when I get totally fed up with root vegetables, winter squash, and apples left over from the fall. It’s then that I reach into my freezer, pantry, or even my liquor cabinet (!) for a taste of summer. Preserving summer’s bounty is easy, economical, and will help you beat the winter blues.
10 Ideas for Preserving Food of Summer
- Canning – Canning allows you to store food in jars in your pantry and can be very economical if the excess food comes right from your garden. Otherwise, buy produce when it’s in peak season and at the best quality and price. Many vegetables, including tomatoes, carrots, beans, squash, corn and peppers can be put up this way. In fact, I’ve already canned some of my tomato harvest – more than 51 pounds as of August 4th!
- Freezing – Freeze berries, corn, and roasted cherry tomatoes all summer. Consider a chest type freezer for your basement that can serve as your at-home frozen food section.
- Soups – Imagine a rough day at work in January followed by a long, snowy commute in the dark and being dog tired. Now imagine coming home, putting on your PJs and enjoying an easy dinner of comforting homemade soup pulled right from the freezer. Almost no effort required, unless you want to pair it with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich! Try a creamy tomato soup, pureed asparagus soup, beet and fennel soup, or corn chowder.
- Jams and preserves – There are so many modern approaches to jams and jellies these days that incorporate unexpected ingredients. Check out Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff for inspiration and recipes. Canning isn’t just for Granny anymore!
- Sauces – When there’s a glut of juicy, ripe tomatoes, make and freeze homemade pasta sauce and pizza sauce.
- Pesto – Don’t limit yourself to just basil pesto. Experiment with arugula-walnut pesto, cilantro-pepita pesto, parsley pesto, and even broccoli raab pesto. Spoon into jars, place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the sauce, screw on the lid, label and freeze.
- Compound butters – What I wouldn’t give to have the flavor of fresh herbs in winter without having to buy them in those awful plastic pouches at the grocery! Combine garden herbs with butter and sock them away in the freezer for later. Read all about compound butter here.
- Dehydrating – With a food dehydrator, dry berries, tomatoes, apples, stone fruits and more. Dried fruits can dress up homemade granola, top hot cereals, or be baked into fruit scones.
- Infused spirits – Infuse vodka with fresh fruit and summer herbs and serve with a splash of soda for a refreshing spritzer. Vodka infused with hot peppers can make a zingy bloody mary.
- Pickles – Don’t stop at pickling cucumbers. Pickled summer beets are great in salads while pickled “dilly” beans and pickled carrots are perfect additions to appetizer spreads or as garnishes for the aformentioned bloody mary.