Guest Author - Aimee Wood
Fall will be here soon and at this point in the summer, gardens are bountiful. Take advantage of the local harvest by preserving vegetables, fruits, and herbs by canning, freezing, and baking. It is wonderful to enjoy the summer harvest throughout the year.
Freezing is easy to do, especially if you have extra freezer space or an extra freezer. Wash and chop vegetables and fruits as if you were going to use them. Batch cook veggies like potatoes and squashes. Place in freezer bags or containers to enjoy throughout the fall and winter. Keep in mind, frozen veggies and fruits generally need to be used within a year and will start to get freezer burnt if you wait too many months to use them. Frozen veggies are a welcome accompaniment to a warm winter stew or soup recipe. Also, sautéing them with olive oil is a quick and easy side dish. Fruits such as berries are fantastic to freeze. Add them to smoothies all throughout the year.
Canning can be a little more complicated but doable if doing it with a group of friends. Throw a harvest canning party. Canning sets can be purchased at grocery or hardware stores. Gather veggies that you have and good friends to share in the bounty.
Have an overflow of veggies like carrots, zucchini or pumpkin? Bake them into breads, bars, or cookies. Breads can also be frozen if you have too many. Save the breads to enjoy during the depths of winter.
Make simple jams or jellies. Slow cook fruits for 12 hours and purée them. This simple type of jam can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks or frozen for up to six months. Apple and pumpkin butters are a fall time favorite.
Herbs cannot be forgotten when preserving for the upcoming winter. Drying bunches of herbs is a well known method. Dry herbs in bunches from a ceiling or hooks until no moisture remains. Chop and store in glass containers. You can also freeze herbs. Place fresh dry herbs on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Remove the herbs and place into freezer bags. Also, herbs can be frozen in oil. Place about one teaspoon of the herb in a ice cube tray then fill with olive oil. Freeze the herb mixture. Pop the herb cube out of the container and store in a freezer bag. Use these herbs while sautéing or making soups.
It's hard when summertime comes to an end and the days get longer and colder. Savoring the harvest throughout the year can make the coldest and harshest of days a little more bearable. Is there a better way to enjoy a cold wintry day than to warm up a soup using the veggies from your garden with a warm slice of zucchini bread?