4 Ways to Preserve Summer Produce

Various pickles in glass jars.
Pickling vegetables can help you enjoy them year-round. (Getty Images)
Summer and early fall are the most delicious times of year to enjoy Mother Nature's bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. All the wonderful produce – cucumbers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, cherries and peaches – make my mouth water. But you don't have to mourn the loss of such treasures once fall is in full swing – you can make these delicious flavors last a while longer using a variety of preservation methods. Here are a few to try:
1. Freeze it.
Although there are many ways to preserve food, including canning, fermenting, drying and making infusions, Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of numerous preservation cookbooks including "Put 'em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook," recommends using the freezer. "Fresh foods that are about to expire can be held over for weeks, even months, to be enjoyed later," she says. Pitted cherries, hulled strawberries, whole blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, for example, can all be individually frozen on cookie sheets and then transferred to freezer bags so you can pour out just the amount you need for smoothies, baking and more. Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, peppers and green beans can be blanched in a pot of boiling water for just a minute and then shocked in an ice bath to preserve their color and texture before storing in the ice box.
2. Make salsa.
Last week, I made a mean cherry and corn tomato salsa at an event sponsored by Ball. I had never made canned salsa before, and I was shocked by how simple it is. What's more, handmade salsa makes a perfect gift. Jessica Piper, fresh preserving canning expert at Newell Brands, offers these tips for making this Cherry & Corn Tomato Salsa:
  • When creating any home canning recipe, make sure you are following a tested and approved recipe, and using the jar size and processing method indicated.
  • Before beginning your recipe, ensure that you have all of the ingredients and tools needed. Make sure that your canning pot is tall enough to cover the jars by one to two inches of water.
  • When filling your pre-warmed jar, measure your headspace according to what's indicated in the recipe and remove air bubbles with a plastic utensil.
  • When securing your jar closures, be mindful not to crank the band on the jar super tight. Simply adjust the band to the point of resistance, also referred to as "fingertip tight."
  • Prior to storing or sharing your salsa, allow it to cool for 12 to 24 hours. Then remove the band, ensure the lid is concave and sealed, and wipe down the outside of the jar with a clean, damp cloth.
3. Pickle it.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother had huge jars of vegetables sitting out in the sun. This was how she pickled the bounty from my dad's garden. Over the years, pickling has evolved and you can choose to do short-term pickling (which lasts up to two weeks in the fridge) or longer-term pickling (which lasts up to one year in the pantry). Here are some tips from Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian and culinary expert, for making her homemade pickles recipe:
  • For best results, slice veggies thinly and evenly.
  • Cucumbers are amazing, of course, but experiment with other veggies like carrots, radishes, chili peppers, cherry tomatoes and summer squash.
  • Infuse extra flavor with fresh herbs like tarragon, thyme and oregano.
4. Make jam.
When I go to my farmers market, the first thing I run toward is the homemade jam. Luckily, I plan to start making my own soon so I can control the flavors I want and have tasty holiday gifts on hand. Vinton was kind enough to share with me her recipe for classic blueberry jam, along with some jam-making tips:
Classic Blueberry Jam
Makes about 4 cups
8 cups blueberries
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
Combine the berries with a splash of water in a medium nonreactive saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring and crushing the berries to release their juice.
Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Stir in the lemon juice.
Continue to cook at a steady boil, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired gel.
Remove from the heat and let the jam rest for five minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles and prevent fruit float. Skim any foam from the top of the jam.
To refrigerate, ladle mixture into bowls or jars. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to three weeks.
To can, pour into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving a quarter inch of headspace. Release trapped air.
Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 10 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest in the water for five minutes.
Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours.
Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
Courtsey: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2017-08-04/4-ways-to-preserve-summer-produce