Oh, how I look forward to my garden’s first vine-ripened tomato and all the other first fruits. As the summer stretches on, however, their later-maturing kin have a tendency to overrun my kitchen. But the good news is that there’s a simple solution — canning and pickling. By canning or pickling fresh fruits and veggies, I am able to enjoy them all winter long.
While learning to can and pickle might seem a bit intimidating at first, it’s really quite simple once you know the basics. So let’s break down everything you need to know to get started preserving your harvest.
A contemporary method of preserving produce is canning – a method that really should, in most instances, be called “jarring.”
Canning involves heating foods to a temperature that destroys microorganisms and certain enzymes. The process forms a vacuum seal that prevents microorganisms from recontaminating food inside the jar or can.
Canning requires more effort and equipment than other preservation methods. A good how-to resource for water bath or pressure cooking methods is available as a downloadable PDF by clicking here.
From tomato ketchup and barbecue sauce to green tomato relish and salsa, canned goodies also make crowd-pleasing gifts for friends and family.
Pickling to Perfection
As a preservation method, pickling is easy and truly gives new life to some produce. The skillful blending of spices, sugar and vinegar with fruits and vegetables can create a crisp, firm texture and a pungent, sweet-and-sour flavor.
Pickling preserves food by increasing its acidity, making it difficult for bacteria to thrive. Boiling pickled products destroys microorganisms and forms a vacuum in the jar for preservation. Try this recipe for pickled peaches and enjoy the taste of summer all winter long.
Jams and Jellies
Making jams and jellies is a sweet way to preserve your produce. I know my morning biscuit is better when dressed with some excellent rhubarb jam. Jellied herbs and garlic also make excellent condiments and delicious, savory spreads.
The high sugar content in jams and jellies prevents microorganism growth, but jams and jellies should also be canned, frozen or refrigerated to prevent yeast or mold contamination. Try this strawberry freezer jam recipe to preserve your sweet strawberries for months to come.