Sustainable Living

3 Ways to Preserve Summer Produce

The plan for freezing summer produce

It’s officially the end of the summer season, though it’s been an extended summer here in Southwestern BC!  As a result we’ve still been seeing some amazing summer produce in the last month or so and the question is – how best to keep a taste of summer to enjoy through the winter?

In the past many people canned peaches, pears, beans, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes… and I’m just not confident enough to do it!  I had attempted pickles once and a couple of the jars went bad which made me nervous to try again.  So this year I’ve decided to freeze some of our favourite produce items. 

I had planned to freeze my items in glass rather than using plastic freezer bags in order to reduce waste.  The solution I came to was to use mason jars (or any other wide mouth jar), Stasher bags, or large Rubbermaid containers, depending on the size or consistency of the item being preserved. Side note – if you’re also a fan of jars (like we are!) Alison has a great post about using jars here!

Produce items I’ve chosen to freeze

Corn

Have you ever tried freezing corn?  There are many options out there for freezing: blanched, unblanched, cooked, on the cob, off the cob.  I have had some luck in the past with blanching the cob (dipping briefly in boiling water) then slicing the kernels off the cob and freezing them.  Previously I’ve frozen the kernels in portion sizes, depending how much corn you prefer in a serving, in a small plastic freezer bag.  However, as I prefer not to use plastic on food, where possible, I decided to try a new method this year! 

To save a bit of time (and at the recommendation of the farmer where I purchased my 24 ears of corn) I’ve opted not to blanch, but to simply slice the kernels off of the cobs and spread them out on a parchment-covered cookie sheet to be frozen.  Then it’s a simple matter to transfer the kernels to a 1L mason jar and return to the freezer.  We’ll see how this works – if the kernels freeze together in the jar they might be hard to get out in future.  Hopefully that’s not the case!

To use your frozen corn as a side through the winter, simply pour out the desired serving amount and heat through  1-2  minutes in boiling water. Another great use is my favourite chili recipe, shared here

summer produce

Apples, peaches, and rhubarb

One of the first things I learned to bake was pie, believe it or not!  And I find that the most time-consuming part of pie making is the filling prep.  Peeling and chopping are definitely my least favourite part, and it can be hard to tell how much of an item is needed to fill the pie.  Also, some fillings like peaches and rhubarb release a lot of liquid and so need a good amount of flour or even tapioca to absorb. 

I’ve found that by cooking (stovetop, microwave) my fruit of choice and draining the liquid, I’m left with a filling with a good consistency that’s ideal for freezing!  And even better, if I want to make a pie, I just make the crust, thaw and pour in my filling (adding sugar and cinnamon as needed) and bake until the crust is browned and the filling warmed! And of course any pie is served best warm with some ice cream or whipping cream, and leftovers should definitely be eaten for breakfast the next morning 😊 See a few ideas for apple recipes (including my pie!) here.

Zucchini

Zucchini is one of the most oddly versatile vegetables!  It can be grilled or roasted as a savory side or incorporated into sweet baked goods.  It’s also, generally, a very productive plant in the garden.  In fact, as I write this there are still a zucchini or two in the garden that might be ready before the cold weather hits!

So what’s the best way to use zucchini through the year?  I’ve found that if zucchini is grated and frozen in ½ cup hills, it’s useful in many recipes! Once the grated zucchini is frozen, simply transfer to a Rubbermaid container, return to the freezer, and it’s ready to use.

summer produce

Two of my favourite recipes for zucchini are double-chocolate muffins and mini meatloaves which are great to prep ahead of time and freeze for an easy meal later on!

What are your favourite fruits and vegetables to preserve for the winter?

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