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
How’s your garden growing? If it’s anything like mine, you’ve moved beyond planting to weeding and harvesting—and harvesting, and harvesting. With so much food coming ripe so quickly, it’s time to dig out the canning kettle, dehydrator, crocks, and other preservation tools that will let you enjoy homegrown (or farm fresh from a CSA) produce the rest of the year.
Later this month, I’ll be teaching a free online workshop through Free the Seeds that focuses on preparing to preserve your harvest. It’s a big topic, with far more information than I can share in one session, so I’ll be expanding on that topic all month here at Twice as Tasty. Be sure to join me online July 15 so that I can answer your questions directly (sign up for the Free the Seeds mailing list to receive a registration email), and then check back here for additional tips, tools, and recipes that save your harvest. You’ll also find pages of information on basic tools and techniques here.
Read more about preparing to preserve
You’ve probably noticed that I love grilled vegetables. I also love home-canned goods, and the techniques of grilling and preserving pair together perfectly. The advantages of grilling for canning stretch far beyond flavor, particularly for tomatoes.
Grilling combined with freezing makes it easy to start processing vegetables as they ripen throughout the growing season, making preserving seem more like a habit than a chore. During tomato season, we pull the ripest fruit from the vine every few days. That evening, we fire up the grill and cook off a rack or two of tomatoes; the hot halves go straight into a colander set over a large bowl to drain off the juice—usually while we’re enjoying a grilled dinner. Once they’re cool, I pour the separated solids and juice into separate containers, weighing and labeling each before adding them to the freezer.
When the freezer’s full, I have two products ready for processing: solids and juice. Because the juice was drained off, any sauce or salsa doesn’t have to cook for hours to thicken. Because the solids have already been pulled out of the juice, I can quickly apply it to any recipe, from beverage to soup. In just a couple of hours, I can have several canner batches processed for long-term storage. The freezer is ready for the next round of preserving, and the canning shelves are full of delicious fire-roasted flavors.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pasta Sauce and Tomato Juice Soup