Preserving food is a wonderful way to extend the fall harvest well into the winter. From freezing and canning to fermenting and dehydrating, it’s possible to process and preserve almost every fruit and vegetable imaginable. Use ingredients from your own garden or head to the farmers’ market and buy directly from community farmers.
Preserved tomato products like salsas, pasta sauces, and sun-dried tomatoes are a staple in most homes. Multiple methods can be used to preserve tomatoes, but canning or freezing of sauces is recommended. Make tomato chips or sun-dried tomatoes using a drying rack or dehydrator. Once dry, place in a jar with oil and dried herbs as a beautiful and edible gift.
Freezing seasonal produce is another easy way to preserve food at home. A bumper crop of bell peppers can be chopped and frozen for a quick addition to any dish. Frozen whole grapes are an easy, deliciously cooling treat for kids of all ages. Simply place small pieces of fruits or vegetables on a baking tray, freeze fully, then transfer into a labeled and dated airtight container.
Seasonal fruits like plums, peaches, pears and apples can be made into jams, preserves, and spreads of various sorts. Jams and jellies, which are high in sugar, are safe to can using the hot water-bath method. Want to limit added sugar? Try dehydrating fruits for a sweet, chewy and portable snack. Use an oven on the lowest heat, a dehydrator, or a food safe outdoor drying rack. Slice thin and evenly; dry until chewy. Find a recipe for apple chips here.
Whether you decide to freeze, dehydrate, or try your hand at home-canning, preserving food is a healthy and economical way to enjoy the bounty for months to come. For more information, consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation.