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Preserved Harvest

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Preserved Harvest

Fresh herbs and veggies from the garden is a treat during the summer and missed during the winter months. The next best thing to eating straight out of a personal garden is enjoying a preserved summer harvest!

Herbs

Drying
Herbs are one of the easiest to preserve, and the easiest way to preserve them is by drying. It’s best to cut the herbs before they flower, as most herbs will go to seed and die after going to flower. Cut desired herbs, bundle, and hang in a cool dry place that has some air flow; be sure to keep them from humidity, as it promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Once the herbs are completely dry, remove the leaves from the stem and placed in an air-sealed glass jar. Remember to label, date and use within the next 12 months.

Herb Salt
To create herb salt, finely chop fresh herbs or use previously dried herbs and add to ground Pink Himalayan sea salt (or any variation of sea salt). If using fresh herbs, combine 1 cup herbs and 1/4 cup of salt; utilize this 3:1 ratio for any portion size. If using dried herbs, use 1/2 cup herbs to 1/4 cup of salt. Choose one herb to make a bold flavored salt, or combine several different herbs (and fresh garlic!) to create a signature seasoning.

Flavored oils/butters
Another option is to make flavored oils or butters with the herbs. Use an ice cube tray and add cut up herbs to each form, filling about 2/3 of the way. Pour desired oil or melted butter into each form until it covers the herbs. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and place the ice cube tray in the freezer overnight. The next day, the oil/butter cubes can be placed in a bag or container and stored in the freezer for easy sautéing or flavoring in the future. Hint: this method is also a fantastic way to store pesto for cooking. Follow your favorite pesto recipe and freeze in cubes until ready to use.

Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies can be canned in a sealed jar and stored in a pantry for months, or even years. To start, decide how the chosen vegetable or fruit is going to be prepared. The simplest form is to leave whole, slice or dice it, or create a jam, sauce or paste (see included recipes!). Fruits can be frozen, and many vegetables can be pickled. It’s important to pay attention to the recipe chosen to know what canning method will be used. Some jams can be frozen while others are sealed with paraffin wax. Tomatoes can be peeled and placed into a jar and lids placed on and tightened.

If new to canning, try this basic method to preserve some of this summer’s tomato harvest: Place peeled tomatoes into jars and tighten the lids. Place jars into a cold oven on cookie sheets. Once they are in place, turn the oven to 250 F and wait 75 minutes. Once complete, carefully remove the jars and place on a cooling rack. Cover the jars with a towel to keep any drafts off of them; this will help prevent the glass from cracking. As the jars cool, the lids will pop indicating that they are sealed. For those who own a pressure cooker, follow instructions as noted for proper canning of several other items!

If feeling ultra ambitious, create fresh soups to be frozen or canned. Although a lengthier process initially, the payoff is at the time of consumption. After a long day at work and making a whole meal just doesn’t seem appealing, pull out a can of homemade soup or heat up tomato sauce seasoned with herbs from the garden over some pasta for an instant meal.

Preserving can start early in the season and last through out. Take advantage of double harvests with certain plants to get the most out of the garden. A few weekends here or there to can and store will generate a savings on grocery bills in the long run and a pantry full of nutritious, fresh food that came right from the backyard.

RECIPES

Try these starter canning recipes below courtesy Ball® Brand Home Canning!

Jalepeno jelly
“Canned Jalapeno Jelly” – Photo by Two Eagles Marcus

Zesty Salsa
makes 6 pints

10 cups chopped, cored, and peeled tomatoes
5 cups chopped, seeded, green bell peppers
5 cups chopped onions
2 1/2 cups chopped, seeded chili peppers
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

Combine tomatoes, green peppers, onions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce, if using, in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

Process both pint and half pint jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Green Pepper Jelly
makes 6 half-pints

7 sweet green peppers
1 jalapeño pepper
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
Green food coloring (if desired)

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

Wash peppers; remove stems and seeds, and cut into 1/2-inch squares. Puree half of peppers with ¾ cup vinegar in a blender or food processor. Pour into a large bowl and add apple juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Strain pureed mixture through several thicknesses of damp cheesecloth. Measure 4 cups juice into a large saucepot. If necessary, add water to make 4 cups. Stir salt and pectin into juice. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary. Add 2 drops of food coloring if desired. Pour mixture into hot, jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Process both pint and half pint jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Published in the August Issue of Women’s LifeStyle Magazine
Photography by Two Eagles Marcus
Edited by Richelle Kimble
Read the entire August issue here

By |2017-04-04T12:04:50+00:00September 6th, 2016|Gardening, Healthy Eating|0 Comments

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