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4 Unexpected Ways To Preserve Your Favourite Summer Fruits And Vegetables!

September 19, 2015 4 min read

Who doesn't love the gorgeous, beautiful, bounty of produce that arrives in the market at the end of summer? If you're like me, you wait all summer for it only to find that there isn't enough time, or stomach space, to consume it all. So, instead of throwing it all away, preservation is a great solution. And don't worry, it isn't nearly as complicated as you think! Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of Put 'Em Up! A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook,  offered Prevention these four, super easy ways, to make your tasties last:

1. Pickle your favourite produce.

Did you know you can pickle just about everything? Why stick with cucumbers when you can do something fun and creative? "This is great for when you're going on vacation or your CSA box is overflowing or you just overbuy at the farmers' market," Vinton says. "That umpteenth pound of beets that you don't know what to do with—you can pickle them." All you have to do is make a simple brine of vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and whatever spices you'd like, bring to a boil and pour over the produce of your choice. Let it cool and then throw it in the fridge. You can eat them immediately or keep them for up to three weeks! Here's a sample recipe: Ginger-Carrot Slaw 145_ckevinkennefick_gingercarrotslaw_putemup Ingredients 1 lb carrots, trimmed and peeled ½ lb daikon radish, trimmed and peeled, or other radish, trimmed 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed ¼ c salt 2 c distilled white vinegar 1 c water 1 c sugar ½ c shredded ginger 1. CUT the carrots, radish, and bell pepper into julienne strips on a mandoline or shred in a food processor or with a box grater. Toss the shredded vegetables with the salt and put in a colander set over a bowl to drain for 2 hours. 2. RINSE the vegetables thoroughly, and then squeeze by the handful to remove as much water as possible. 3. COMBINE the vinegar, water, sugar, and ginger in a large nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the vegetables and return to a boil, stirring to make sure that all ingredients are heated evenly. Remove from the heat. 4. LADLE into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to three weeks.

2. Make your own dried fruit and veggies.

Who doesn't love a little dried fruit? Instead of buying it, make your own! "You can dry chilies, mushrooms, corn, any kind of berry, or even stone fruits," Vinton says. "Slice them thinly, put them in a low oven, and just dry them out." This process usually takes about five hours. Or, you could go old school by hanging the food on a string in a cool, dry place. "This works for green beans, chili peppers, herbs—as long as they're in a nice dry environment,"

3. Freeze everything.

This is, hands down, the easiest way to preserve your food. You'll want to blanch tough veggies like corn, carrots and green beans before freezing but fruits like tomatoes, blueberries and figs can be frozen without any preparation at all! "But you don't want to just throw them in a bag," Vinton says. "You want to arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet so they are individually frozen. Otherwise you get that clump—I call it the berry 'berg. You want to avoid that." Frozen fruits and veggies will last up to six months in the freezer. The perfect way to get a little summer in the dead of winter! Try this: Frozen Berries 127_ckevinkennefick_frozenblueberries_putemup Ingredients Any quantity berries, stemmed and cleaned 1. SPREAD out the berries on a rimmed baking sheet. (Make sure they're not touching one another.) Pop the sheet pan into the freezer and freeze until the berries are solid. 2. TRANSFER the frozen berries to airtight containers or bags. Press out as much air as possible, then return to the freezer. Will keep frozen for up to six months.

4. Ferment traditional pickles

Don't be nervous, this is actually a pretty easy process. Submerge about a pound of produce in a salty brine (about 6 tablespoons salt to 2 quarts water), cover it and leave it alone, at room temperature, for a week or two. And voilà, you've got a tangy little treat. Need more inspiration? Fermented foods are actually really good for you!  Probiotic central! Remember: "You can ferment any vegetable or fruit—people think of just cucumbers and sauerkraut, but I love to ferment chili peppers to make sauce, too," Vinton says. For more recipe ideas, head here. What is your favourite late summer/fall produce? Which will you try preserving first?

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