By Eve Springwood Minson
It’s high summer and the eating is good! The issue now is how to save all of the amazing food and other goodies coming into your kitchen from the garden and local farmer’s markets.
There are many options for food preservation based on what you have time and space for. My favorite and easiest go-to solution is freezing, which I do with just about everything. I use ice cube trays for pestos and cooked fruit, slice fresh peppers and store in zip-lock bags, make oven-dried tomatoes and stash in storage containers and a whole lot more. Most veggies have a limit to how long they taste good in the freezer so take heed to not leave them for much longer than a few months.
Some ovens have dehydrating options which is a nice tool for drying tomatoes, peppers, apples, etc. I dry culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers by hanging them in a dark, warm place like my attic, though the trunk of a car on a hot summer day works wonders as well and is cheaper than buying a solar or electric dehydrator. When I have time in the fall I can strip the dried leaves and store them.
Canning is a bit more complicated procedure and you will need specific supplies, but it’s deeply satisfying to look in the cupboard in winter and see everything you’ve stocked up on. My Polish aunt canned everything from fruit to veggies to pigs’ feet for winter, so the range is broad. One of the easiest projects to start with for beginners is simple jam or jelly from freshly picked fruit. There’s nothing quite like it in midwinter to have on your homemade muffins or pancakes. Or try a red pepper jelly which is a scrumptious condiment that also makes a great Christmas present!
Another fun way to preserve is pickling veggies like cucumbers or dilly beans, but lacto-fermented products are also becoming wildly popular and are super healthy for us. Sauerkraut is the most obvious ferment to make at home, but spicy Korean kimchi and healthy brews like kombucha are easy, as well. Recipes for all of these abound on the Web.
Most importantly, be creative, have fun and Bon Appetit!