Preserving Your Fall Produce!

September 24, 2019

Whether you planted your own vegetable garden and harvested your own produce, or made a fruit and veggie killing at the Southlands Farmer’s Market, you’ll want to preserve those seasonal foods for months to come! There are at least two ways to do that – canning and drying — and while one is definitely easier than the other, don’t let either of them scare you off! Here are the how-tos to enjoy your fruit and veggie bounty all winter long!

Canning Your Nutrition

Canning is experiencing a modern revival. Food preservation classes are packed and the jar manufacturer Ball® Canning reported double sales for the book Ball® Blue Book Guide to Canning. Not only does canning produce flavorful, high-quality food that saves you money – canning builds self-reliance and lots of memories! You can learn all about the science at Mother Earth News as well as varieties of ingredients, processes and safety practices.

If you’re new to canning, you can purchase a canning kit which often comes with useful extras for the newbie – jars, lids, seals, a funnel, a magnetic wand, a pair of jar tongs, and a large non-reactive or stainless-steel pot.

There are two different canning methods, depending on the fruits or vegetables you’re canning and according to Fresh Preserving, the water bath canning is ideal for high-acid foods like tomatoes and fruits. Those naturally acidic foods kill bacteria at the boiling point and bath canning works great for salsas, chutneys, pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, pie fillings and fruit juices.

If you’re canning foods like vegetables with low acid content, you’ll need a pressure canner that will reach temperatures of 240º to 250ºF to kill the bacteria. 

For first-timers making jams or jellies, detailed instructions are on the pectin packages or you can check out these helpful recipes.

To make a couple of great canning recipes, like Kitchn’s Peach, Plum and Ginger Jam or Taste of Home’s Tomato Relish (which can really spice up a grilled burger or hot dog!), check out the Cheat Sheet. You’ll also find recipes for Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce from fresh ripe tomatoes, Creamed Corn and Watermelon Preserves. 

Oh, and for 100 more recipes, plus everything you ever wanted to know about canning – visit Pick Your Own. They have it all!

Drying to Deliciousness

Dried foods are tasty, nutritious, lightweight, and easy to store and eat. They’re also easy to dry – compared to freezing or canning and you need less storage space – without all those cars and containers.

Dried fruits make great snacks for a boost of energy – they’re highly nutritious and contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than fresh fruit. You can take them camping or to sporting events – both the ones you play and the ones you watch!

When you think about drying fruit, look to apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, bananas, berries, and cherries. You can also dry these into fruit leathers. Veggies that are great to dry include carrots, celery, corn, green beans, potatoes, and tomatoes. 

A food dehydrator at Home Depot near Southlands will dry your fruit, but your oven works just as well at 140º or 150ºF. The experts tell us to keep the oven door open two inches to let moisture escape. A convection oven works well, too, because it combines low heat with a fan that moves the air. 

Some foods like apples, pears, peaches and apricots dry better when they are pretreated with an acidic solution of 3.75 teaspoons of ascorbic acid (or you can crush 20 vitamin C – 500 mg – tablets!) and 2 cups of water. Leave the fruit in the acidic bath for 10 minutes before you put it on trays to dry. Or combine equal parts of bottled lemon juice and water for the bath.

Taste of Home has dried fruit recipes for the results of your drying efforts – including one for stuffing, fruit and nut granola and French toast!

Veggie Gardens in Southshore

It may be September in the master-planned community of Southshore, but what a way to mark the seasons with a canning party to preserve your harvest! Life at the Lake means great neighbors, and amazing dining, shopping, recreation and entertainment options. Check out the new homes here from Century Communities, Richmond American Homes and Toll Brothers — available in ranch and two-story designs, and priced between the $400s and the $700s.