As gardening season comes to a close, many people are left wondering what to do with a bushel of tomatoes in October. You might also be interested in stocking up on your favorites before the Farmer’s Markets come to an end. Different types of produce should be stored in different ways to last through the winter. Books on food preservation (canning, blanching and freezing) are readily available, but what does all that mean?
Blanching is an easy technique that partially cooks the food and then prepares it for freezing or canning. Boil the food for the required time, depending on the type of produce. Take the food out of the water and place it into ice water. This stops the cooking process so that your food does not overheat. From here, you can freeze or can the foods for long term storage.
Many types of produce can simply be frozen for later use. Be sure to use containers that are designed for this purpose as they are thick enough to prevent air leaks and freezer burn. Another way to preserve for long term storage is to can the produce. This allows items to be stored at room temperature.
Each vegetable has its own special process for canning so I won’t go into details here, but I can give you some general tips. Use clean and dry jars, in good condition. You will need a fresh lid and seal each time you use a jar, but these can be purchased separately to save money.
Once you have prepared the food and poured it into the jars, run a knife or spatula along the sides to release air bubbles. Carefully clean the threads of the jar so food does not get trapped into the band. Cook or pressurize the cans, as per each food’s recipe.
Carefully remove jars and place on a towel. This will help to prevent breakage due to temperature differences. Leave jars undisturbed for 24 hours. Test the seal on each jar before storing. If it did not seal completely, reprocess or refrigerate.
These tips can save money all winter long as you enjoy farm-fresh prices in the off season.