Long sunny summer days full of fresh produce end far too quickly, if you ask me. While there might not be a great solution for more hours of sunshine in a winter day, the taste of summer can be kept alive! Here are some of our favourite ways to preserve summer produce:
If you have the freezer space, storing produce frozen can be a convenient, versatile, and easy option. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Freeze produce when it’s fresh and at the peak of ripeness. If it’s rotten or underripe, freezing isn’t going to help.
- The higher the water content, the more it will break down when thawed. High water content produce is best for soups, smoothies, and sauces.
- Frozen produce will be best if consumed within a year.
1. Freezing Vegetables
When freezing vegetables, it’s best to consider how you’re going to be using them. For example, it might be easy to freeze a whole zucchini, but it’s not easy to cut into a frozen zucchini. If you plan on using it in soups and smoothies, you’re better off cutting it into bite sized pieces before freezing.
Once you have your veggies cut, blanch them quickly in boiling water and then submerge them in an ice water bath to prevent further cooking. Blanching might seem like an unnecessary step, but in addition to cleaning the surface of vegetables, it will help prevent enzyme damage to flavour, colour and texture. So don’t skip blanching veggies!
Place dry, blanched veggies with some space between them on a baking sheet in the freezer (so they freeze without sticking to eachother!). After 4 – 24 hours, transfer them into an airtight container and store in the freezer.
2. Freezing Fruit
Unlike vegetables, fruit is not typically blanched. It is possible to blanch, for example, a peach so that the skin is easily removed, but it’s not necessary and in some cases fruit (especially berries) are too delicate for blanching. The process is generally much more straightforward – chop (if necessary), and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet before moving to an airtight container for long term storage.
Pickles can be as easy as fridge pickles that are soaked in a brine overnight. But whether you’re doing a full on water bath or just some quick pickles, pickled veggies are a great way of adding tang to any meal! These recipes will satisfy your pickle cravings:
Jams, jellies, and other spreads are a delicious way of preserving fruits and they make great DIY gifts! Bonus: when you make it yourself, you get to choose the sweetness level and add in fun and unusual flavours (like lavender!).
10. Spiced Blueberry Jam (no added sugar!)
Canning isn’t limited to the classic jams and pickles though – you can preserve everything from a pantry staples to convenience items. Here are a few of our favourites:
Fermentation is an ancient way of preserving produce, which has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Gut health has been put at the forefront of health concerns thanks to emerging studies showing the importance of cultivating your microbiome (the hub inside your body that contains all the organisms living in your gut). One of the best ways to support this microbiome is by eating fermented foods, like these:
Did we miss your favourite way of preserving summer produce? Let us know in the comments!
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