Preserving Summer Fruits and Vegetables

Preserving Summer Fruits and VegetablesSummer is paradise for the fruit and vegetable lover. Farmer’s markets brim with fresh, just picked peaches, strawberries, raspberries, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and more. Have you ever wished you could enjoy locally-grown, fresh-picked produce all year long? If you properly learn how to can and freeze summer fruits and vegetables, you will be able to enjoy nature’s bounty no matter what the season.

Preserving Vegetables:

Most vegetables, with the exception of tomatoes, are considered to be low acid foods. Thus, for proper preservation, you need to use a pressure canner, freeze the vegetables or add acid to them. This is where pickling comes in. More than cucumbers can be pickled — one popular example is pickled green beans. With pickling, vinegar is added to make the vegetables acidic enough to can in a hot water bath, without the danger of spoiling.

Another common method of preserving vegetables is to freeze them. Most vegetables, including beans and corn, benefit from blanching prior to freezing. The purpose of blanching is twofold; it kills any surface bacteria present, and it halts the enzyme production in the vegetables, lending a more pleasant color and taste. Blanching is simply boiling the vegetables for approximately one minute.

For corn, you will need to remove the kernels from the cob after it is cool enough to handle. Many people like to use a special tool to remove the corn from the cob. One easy method of removing the corn is to use a Bundt pan and a sharp knife. All you need to do is place the cob in the center of the pan and use a sharp knife to slice off the kernels. Then, the corn can be frozen. If you would like the kernels of corn to freeze individually, rather than in a solid block, you should place a single layer of corn on a cookie sheet and freeze for one to two hours. Finally, you can place it into a freezer bag.

Preserving Fruit

Fruits, particularly berries, are one of the most popular foods for home preservation. Jams, jellies, syrups and canned whole fruit are delectable — once you taste home-canned jam you will never reach for jam on the store shelf again! Home-canning applesauce is another easy and super delicious way to preserve fruit. With applesauce, you can even add in other fruits like strawberries and blueberries to create your own signature blend.

Fruits are considered low acid foods and can be safely canned using a hot water bath canner. Jam is made using the whole fruit, including seeds, and jelly is made using only the juice of the fruit. Applesauce is made with the whole apple, which is put through a food mill that removes the skin and seeds.

Of course, you can also freeze most fruits. For berries, freeze in a single layer before placing them into a freezer bag. See the directions for freezing corn, above. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries do particularly well in the freezer.

Preserving your own fruits and vegetables is easy and tasty. To get started, you can check out the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, which is considered an excellent reference for those interested in preserving their own food. Plenty of Internet resources are also available. One good website, with plenty of information for beginners, is pickyourown.org. Once you try preserving your own fruits and vegetables, you may be hooked for life. The results are delicious and fresh, and you can enjoy the benefits of your hard work during any season of the year.