Saving Summer Produce

Preserve the fleeting flavors of summer produce with these simple recipes and techniques.

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Photo by: Verdina Anna ©2013 Anna Verdina

Verdina Anna, 2013 Anna Verdina

Peaches, berries, corn, zucchini…our favorite flavors of summer are oh-so-fleeting. Find the best ways to carry them into fall and beyond with these techniques for preserving, freezing, pickling and more.

Freezing

Nothing tastes as good as a peach, raspberry or squash picked at the height of its season. Plus, that’s generally when produce is at its cheapest too. So it’s worth a little prep work to have frozen summer produce to use in cooler months.

Frozen strawberries closeup. Detailed cold fruit image. soft focus

Frozen strawberries with green leaves closeup. Detailed cold fruit image. soft focus

Frozen strawberries closeup. Detailed cold fruit image. soft focus

Frozen strawberries closeup. Detailed cold fruit image. soft focus

Fruit

Start by washing and thoroughly drying fruit. Berries can be frozen whole, but you’ll want to slice and remove the pit of peaches, nectarines, plums and other stone fruits. Once the fruit is cleaned and prepped, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer so the pieces aren’t touching, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Freeze until solid (a few hours, or overnight), and then transfer to a freezer bag. (Yes, you could skip this last step and throw all your sliced peaches into one big bag, but then it would freeze together into a big brick instead of individual pieces.)

Boiling Hot Water

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Boiling Hot Water

Photo by: microstockonline

microstockonline

Boiling Hot Water

Vegetables

Some summer veggies, including zucchini and green beans, benefit from blanching before they’re frozen. Blanching not only helps maintain a vegetable’s vibrant color and texture, but also retains its nutrients.


Blanching is also a worthwhile extra step to take when freezing tomatoes since you’ll then be able to easily remove their skin after they take a quick dunk in hot water. For leafy greens like chard and kale, you can elect to skip the blanching process altogether, but it does help them cook down a bit so they store more easily.

Canning & Preserving

Sure, canning does require some time, effort and special equipment. But once you know how to do it, it’s easy to whip up big batches of homemade jams, salsas, pickles and more you can keep in the pantry and tuck into whenever the craving strikes. So follow our step-by-step primer on canning, pickling and preserving. Then get to work, and thank us come January when the farmers market is looking bleak and you have a stash of preserves and pickles in the pantry.

Salsa for Canning

Spicy Tomato Jam

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Plum Vanilla Preserves

Photo by: Matt Armedariz ©2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armedariz, 2012 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator, or “quick” pickles help preserve the best flavors of summer without all the effort of canning. By submerging produce in pickling liquid and storing it in the refrigerator, it can last up to several months, depending on the recipe.

Refrigerator Pickles

Kinda Sorta Sours

Homemade Spicy Dill Pickles (pictured above)

Heirloom Tomato Chow Chow
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Quick Pickled Green Beans
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Homemade Maraschino Cherries
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