Freeze, dry and can: food preservation ideas to ensure you have the taste of summer all year long.
As the warm days wane, it’s easy to start mourning the loss of summer food. While the thought of root vegetable dishes might feel cozy now, you know that there’s going to be a time of complete and utter food boredom when all you want is to stuff yourself with blackberries. Fortunately, we live in the modern era of freezers and ovens, and storing some of summer’s bounty is easier than you might think.
If you have an overflowing CSA box, or went on a berry picking extravaganza and are in need of some ideas for food preservation that will have you eating summer all year long, look no further.
1. Freeze fruit
One of the best tips for freezing fruit, particularly berries, is something I have watched my mother do for years. Cover a baking sheet with whatever you want to freeze – blueberries, apricots, blackberries, etc. – and place in the freezer. This allows the fruit to individually freeze, which means you avoid a mashed together frozen clump later. After it has frozen, remove from the freezer and put all the fruit into an airtight container.
2. Make sundried tomatoes
If there’s one item of summer bounty that I dream of in winter, it’s tomatoes. While they’re called “sun-dried,” you can of course do them in the oven.
3. Make jam
What better way to taste a bit of summer in the height of winter than a bright and colorful jam you made yourself?
4. Make compote or fruit butter and freeze it
Some people are intimidated by making jam. If canning isn’t up your alley, consider making compotes or fruit butter instead and just freezing them. It’s as easy as cooking down fruit, adding a little sweetener (if you want to) and then putting in a sealable container for storage in the freezer. I find it’s easy to store in smaller quantities, that way you don’t have to defrost a 2-gallon container of compote when you want to eat it.
5. Dehydrate fruit
If you have a dehydrator at home, drying fruit is easy, but it can even be done in your oven. Drying time in the oven will range from about 6-12 hours depending on which fruits you are doing.
6. Pickle things
What better way to use summer beans than pickling them? Or what about pickled red pepper? Pickling is of course one of the oldest forms of food preservation, and as long as you have a few mason jars and some storage space, there’s nothing stopping you.
7. Infuse vodka with fruit
If summer cocktails are your thing, then you definitely should make a few batches of infused vodka. Pick your summer fruits, infuse for 3 to 5 days, then strain the fruit out and you have a fruit base for cocktails that will last through the cold months; depending on how many cocktails you make of course.
8. Make a puree to freeze
Cook and puree eggplant and you have the base for a baba ghanoush later in the winter. If you want you can puree vegetables and then freeze them in an ice cube tray, which makes for easy small portions that later can be added to soups and beyond.
9. Make fruit leather
Pretend you’re 8 again and make fruit leather. Yes, you can roll it up and put it in your lunchbox.
10. Dry peppers
Peppers are easy to dry and then can be used to spice up your winter dishes; a chili perhaps?
Related on EcoSalon
Easy Tips for Using the Last of Summer’s Produce
10 Things to Turn Into Ice Cubes
Image: Klearchos Kapoutsis