‘Tis the season of garden bounties. From tangled plants with large ripe squash to towering tomato plants studded with fruit, this time of year always seems to produce more than one can keep up with. With a bit of time and some prep, you can preserve your summer’s bounty so that it lasts all year long without going to waste. Here are a few of our favorite ways to preserve the fruit of our labor for months on end:
Simple as that. Most produce from your garden can be prepped and kept in your freezer. Some fruits and veggies do best blanched prior to being frozen like peaches, rhubarb, or tomatoes. This helps maintain the flavor, color, and texture. Fruits like apples and pears do best sliced before being frozen, and berries, even cherries, do best stored in the freezer as whole.
When you think of pickles, you often think of the green crunchy slices that top your burger or sandwich, but any fruit or vegetable can be pickled. Some tasty and unexpected pickled items include carrots, zucchini and even blueberries and peaches. If you’re in a rush, you can also quick pickle items with some vinegar and salt which lengthens their shelf just a tad.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
- 2/3 cup vinegar (any type)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons seasonings (see Notes)
- 1 1/2 cups cucumber slices
- In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, water, salt and sugar until the mixture simmers. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved and remove from heat.
- Place the seasonings in the bottom of a clean pint-sized glass jar. Add the cucumber slices, packing them closely together. Leave about 1/2 inch space at the top of the jar.
- Fill the jar with the warm vinegar mixture to cover the cucumbers. Close the jar with a clean lid and refrigerate for 1 to 3 days to allow flavors to develop.
- Store pickles in the refrigerator. Use within 3 months.
- Ideas for fresh seasonings: basil, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, onion, oregano, thyme.
- Ideas for dry seasonings: bay leaf, celery, cumin or dill seed, dried chili, peppercorn, pickling spice, tumeric
- Try this: 1 clove garlic, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon dill seed.
Photo and Recipe Source: https://www.foodhero.org/recipes/refrigerator-pickled-cucumbers
If you have the right equipment, canning is an excellent way to preserve the life of your summer crops. Our friends at the OSU Extension Services are hosting a Canning Pickles, Tomatoes and Salsa workshop on Thursday, August 26 and Saturday, August 28 for those looking for a lesson. The course costs $15. More details and the sign up can be found on their website here.
Freezer jam is the easier version of jam-making and doesn’t require sterilizing jars and equipment. Typically made with fruit, sugar, water, and pectin, freezer jam is quick and easy to make and yields delicious results that you can enjoy on toast or share with friends (it makes a great gift!).
You can make all sorts of delicious sauces that can be stored for long periods of time. A garden tomato sauce or marinara is delicious in the colder winter months and can be frozen, or if canned, stored in a cool dark place. Apple sauce is another great staple to have around for months and allows you to enjoy your fruit all year long.
For more local health and wellness information, follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.