Summer is a rejuvenating time of the year. Warm temps, endless sunshine and fun with family and friends fill our days. One of my favorite hobbies is gardening. In our northern climate, we have a short growing season and I want to make the most of it.
Why grow a garden? So many reasons but here are a just a few:
- exercise…as gardening can truly be a workout
- relaxation…as there is nothing better that digging in the dirt
- producing your food and knowing how it was produced
- teaching life skills to your children
- creating cooking master pieces from your hard work
You will find gardens of all different sizes. Some people produce enough to eat fresh as it matures and ripens. Others work to grow enough to feed their family and the neighborhood throughout the year until the next growing season. I have always strived to produce enough for my family for the year as long as I have had space. There is nothing better in the dead of winter than something I canned or froze versus something bought from the store. You can still taste a little bit of summer.
There are a number of ways to preserve your summer bounty. I use a variety of methods. Whichever method you choose, we recommend that you follow all preserving recommendations. I’ve shared my most used methods below, but don’t rule out unique ones like freeze-drying or preserving in oils!
FREEZING–Freezing is simple enough in that you prep your produce by blanching and place in a freezer bag or vacuum seal. Produce will last from three months to a year.
CANNING–Canning takes a few more supplies than freezing as you need a canning kettle, jars, lids, rings, etc. which take more room to store when not in use. However canned produce can last indefinitely if kept in good condition and that has true merit.
DRYING–Yes both fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be dried with a food dehydrator for preservation. Again offering another storage option. Shelf life is about 8-10 years in the right conditions.
The longer a person invests the time in food preservation you will find your favorite methods and the ones that work best for you. I encourage you to experiment and try a new method now and then. You will be blessed with a healthy food supply in the months we can’t grow.
Contributed by Jessica Clemens