Apples, pumpkins, getting grounded—there’s so much to love about the fall season. But if you’re wondering how you can enjoy the flavors of fall (and summer) all year long, consider the process of preserving. Let’s let’s be real here people—nothing beats the winter blues better than a spoonful of summertime peaches on a cold winter day. Here are seven ways to preserve your summer fruits and vegetables plus all of your fall haul.
How to preserve summer fruits and vegetables
One of the simplest ways to preserve produce from your windowsill herbs is by air-drying. Susannah Shmurak, green-living expert, says, “Air-drying herbs is incredibly simple, requiring nothing more than hanging some bunches upside down for the easy-to-dry options like thyme and oregano.”
She warns us to consider the water content of your herbs though.
“Moister herbs like basil only work with this method if you’re in a very dry climate.”
Blending summer and fall produce may not seem obvious, but it’s a super simple way to easily preserve the flavors of the summer and fall seasons. A blender can create silky smooth purees for fruit butters, fruit leather and homemade sauces like marinara and pesto. Transfer the purees into sustainable containers and freeze or pour them into individual ice cube trays to easily use for single portions later.
If you have a ton of leftover summer fruit from the local community farmer’s markets, consider dehydrating it into fruit leather. A dehydrator pushes hot air at a controlled temperature (usually sub-200 degrees Fahrenheit) through several trays of food to create deliciously dehydrated foods like dried berries and dried herbs. A dehydrator machine is somewhat bulky so it’s not exactly ideal for small spaces, so if you are pressed for kitchen space, consider dehydrating using your kitchen oven.
If you don’t want to purchase a dehydrator, Shmurak has an additional tip. “You can also use your car as a solar dehydrator if you can leave it parked in the sun and don’t mind having trays of food lying around.” (Umm genius).
Fermenting is another easy way to preserve foods. Laura Seabolt, blogger and gardener, says, “[Fermenting] is one of the easier ways to preserve food. You just need water and salt and vegetables. The fermentation process occurs without additional input from you so it doesn’t require electricity or any special canning equipment.”
She goes on to say, “This preservation method is not only easier, but it actually improves the nutritional quality of your product by increasing vitamin content and adding pre and probiotics.”
If you are interested in fermenting summertime vegetables, check out our guide to fermenting.
Freezing fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest ways to preserve summer bounty and all of your favorites from the fall harvest. Whether you’re preserving tomatoes or summer fruits, spread your produce out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper then freeze. After the produce is frozen, you can vacuum seal it or simply store in a separate bag. Freezing foods in this manner helps keep the fruit and veggies separate from one another so you aren’t freezing an entire brick of fresh produce, which is so not ideal.
6. Jam and jelly
Get your jam on and preserve all of that summer and fall fruit by turning it into jam or jelly. Making jam may sound intimidating, but it’s actually really simple. All you need is your favorite fruits and a few ingredients you probably already have around your home’s kitchen.
7. Vacuum seal
Vacuum-sealing is by far one of the easiest and fastest ways to store summer fruits and vegetables that are at their peak ripeness. Vacuum sealing removes most of the oxygen around the food you are storing, which slows the deterioration process caused by bacteria growth. Vacuum sealing can even protect foods from freezer burn, so those apples, berries and peaches still taste fresh from the farmers market for that Thanksgiving Day pie.
You can also vacuum seal nuts and seeds, which can help them keep longer in the pantry.
The fresh flavors of fall and summer can be enjoyed any time of year with the simple step of preserving. Whether you blend, freeze or ferment, the preserving options are endless, so pick one that works for you and your lifestyle and enjoy the taste of summer and fall all year long. Happy preserving everyone!