As I mentioned while describing the pros and cons of pickling, the process, whether using vinegar or salt brine, safely preserves low-acid foods and can be varied to incorporate your favorite flavors and the size of your harvest. Pickling is a preservation technique but not a storage one; you need to pair it with canning or refrigerating. Some tips and tricks will help you successfully make pickles.
You know you’re serious about preserving homegrown food when you start canning in your kitchen. As summer temperatures peak and the garden explodes, canning supplies take up semipermanent residence on the kitchen counter, and many evenings feature the “ping” of sealing jars.
As I mentioned while describing the pros and cons of canning, it’s a time-consuming process with must-follow rules and specialized tools. That’s part of why I’m such a fan of canning large batches and even multiple batches: If I’m going to spend the time, I want to fill a row of jars. Otherwise, I choose a quick preservation method like refrigerating or freezing. I even stash produce in the fridge or freezer to can later when I have a decent stockpile and more time. Doing so breaks up the canning process, making it seem less of a project.
Even though they take effort, canning projects are worth it, and some of my most delicious preservation recipes are stored stably and safely at room temperature in jars.
Read more about water-bath canning
As you prepare to preserve your harvest, it’s easy to overlook a simple and effective technique: dehydration. The process provides nutritional, flavor, and storage benefits and both preserves and enhances a surprising range of foods. Dried foods are handy not just in your kitchen but also in your child’s lunchbox, the stem bag on your bike, the front pouch on your daypack, and your ski jacket pocket.
Like most preservation techniques, dehydrating has pros and cons. On the upside, dehydrating intensifies the flavor of food, saves space, and needs little hands-on time. On the downside, food that isn’t fully dried or properly stored can mold. And although you can dehydrate in open air, you’ll get the best control over moisture, heat, and other factors is you use a dehydrator.
Learn to dehydrate and make Marinated Dried Tomatoes
Preserving your harvest often seems like a daunting, time-consuming task, involving pounds of produce, stacks of jars, and boiling kettles on some of the hottest days of the year. Large-batch canning can operate that way: as a project, albeit one that fills your pantry. But it’s not the only way to preserve what you grow. Preservation can happen every time you come in from the garden with a little more than you and your family will eat at the next meal.
Refrigerating, freezing, and dry storing are the trifecta of quick preservation. As I mentioned while describing their pros and cons last week, produce preserved in these ways requires minimal prep and handling. Most of the tools and packaging you need are likely already in your home. Storage times can vary widely with these techniques, but some tips and tricks will let you get the most out of each. Best of all, a wide range of food can be preserved simply and easily with these quick preservation techniques.
Read more about quick food preservation