As many of you know, I’ve had a lot of beginnings this year. We planted our first garden. I ground my own flour. 2020 Has really opened a new window of opportunity to me: the opportunity to provide my family with many things I used to just purchase at the store. With a garden, we naturally have a lot of fresh produce. Our goal for this garden wasn’t just to grow things to eat right for summer. This Beginner is preserving food for next year!
I’ve used simple ways and had to learn a few new skills but today I want to encourage you that it can be done! Here are the methods I’ve been learning and how I used them to preserve food for next year.
This method of preserving isn’t new to me as I’ve frozen summer berries for some time. Vegetables, on the other hand are new. I do recommend finding a tutorial or instructions from a “Ball” Home Preserving Book if you’ve never frozen certain foods before as their are certain tricks to each item. Most of these berries will be made into Jam (except for the blueberries which we like to eat or keep for smoothies) This year I’m freezing:
Green Beans for soups and dinners
Shredded Zucchini for breads (Tip: squeeze out all the extra liquid before putting in freezer)
Peas for stir fry and Fried Rice
Preserving food for next year by canning can mean you’re using water bath canning (for high acid foods such as fruits) or pressure canning (for low acids foods such as vegetables).
In the past couple years I began my first sessions of canning and was very proud to have peaches and applesauce in the pantry for several months. When we received canned green beans as a house warming gift, I decided I needed to learn how to make them. They were so sweet and good. I couldn’t believe the only ingredients were green beans and salt!
It took me planting a harvest of green beans and letting some go bad, before I finally found a pressure cooker to purchase. I was excited and terrified at the same time. Yikes! My husband took the boys for half a Saturday and I stayed home picking beans, watching and reading tutorials and finally cutting and attempting my first pressure canning session.
It went well until I second guessed myself and shut off the heat thinking it was taking way too long for the heat to rise. Then I realized everything was working just right and I was able to get the heat back up. Four hours and a minor breakdown session later I had 11 pints of green beans! Yes, it was stressful to learn but I’m so glad I did.
Here’s what we’ve canned so far and what else we’re preserving for next year:
Jams-strawberry, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry
Pears-most likely into pear sauce
Beans from the string beans
I’ve never been a big fan of drying because I always thought of the dried prunes we’d eat as a kid. Good but way to rich to have more than one!
The sugar level is high and the nutrition goes down. It just seemed like too much work when I’d rather have other foods.
Then I discovered tea making and herb drying. I tried drying some of our sour cherries for baking and the fruit we couldn’t finish. I’m now hooked. It’s been so much easier than I thought and has given me ways to keep a bit of summer in the winter time!
This year I’m drying:
Tea with many leaves such as blackberry, raspberry, mint, lemon balm, lavender and rose petals
peaches we couldn’t eat
Preserving food through storage is new for this beginner! I combined some onions from a farm stand down the road with my own and dried them out for storage. Yes! You can also preserve food you buy!
The key to onion storage is a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, air circulation and dryness. To keep them cool, they are in our small basement, but I will move these back up to the pantry soon as the weather gets more humid and our pantry cools down a bit. The pantry tends to stay very cool in the winter making it an ideal spot for storage.
As with a lot of canning and drying, I’m a beginner in preserving through fermenting as well! This type of preservation attracted me because it contains such good bacteria for gut health and it’s also quite old. I began by making some sauerkraut early in the Summer and moved on to pickles and dilly beans.
Ferments from this season:
Other Things I may Try to Preserve
I have enough on my plate, I know. For several years I’ve said “NO” to a garden, to canning much and to a lot of other things. With my sleep being so much better, this year has been the ideal time to start. I don’t want to overdo it, but I am looking at these other fun ideas for gifts and holidays…hmm.
Vanilla and Mint Extract Here
Apple Cider and Grape Juice
Alternative Ways to Preserve
Not only do these foods make easy additions to meals but so do freezer meals! Yes, it is still considered preserving foods for next year if your freezing meals. If you haven’t checked it out yet, read my post on how to have your own Freezer Meal Making Party to stock up on Dinners. Bread is another great item to freeze.
I have started the habit of making waffles at least once a week and doubling the recipe. My boys love having waffles first thing in the morning and I LOVE not having to mess with breakfast for a few days. Make a double batch of Cookies and keep them in the Freezer for snacks and desserts or bring to a gathering. Change your mindset just a little to think about next week or next month while you’re making that pot of soup. It will help you so much in the long run.
Using Preservation for Gifts
While preserving food for next year don’t forget that anything YOU preserve is an art form! If you put the effort into saving herbs, flowers, cookies, jams etc. then you’ve used both skill and art to create.
Some of my favorite gifts when moving to our house or having a baby were the homemade kinds. You know what I mean? The dinners with fresh bread or the home canned goods to save on my shelf. I knew these took time and they weren’t just made for fun. They were made to feed a family. The fact that someone wanted to share their precious time, effort and food with me will always be a cherished gift.
The art of making food is a gift to anyone so yes, I plan to share and yes, you should too! Never underestimate the power of homemade frozen waffles. They might just be someone’s saving grace in a busy season.
Check out some of my other posts:
As always, I love having you stop by! Thanks for reading.
From the Hilltop,