Preserving food from your garden is a bonus after all the work that goes into a garden. Learning to preserve foods means being able to enjoy the tomatoes, peppers, beans, and other fruits and vegetables from the garden long into the winter months.
When we think of preserving food from the garden, canning is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Visions of standing over the stove, boiling the jars to encourage them to seal. Many people even have memories of days being spent preparing the food before it could be canned.
Those are the same people with memories of how good those foods tasted when it was time to open them up and use them. My favorite memories were the jams and jellies. There is nothing like fresh, homemade foods no matter what your favorite is.
Preserving food does not have to mean canning. Freezing is an alternate method of preserving that still means getting the most out of the garden. Green peppers can be diced and frozen right out of the garden. Some vegetables need to be blanched before freezing like tomatoes. Broccoli, beans, and even corn can be successfully frozen to be used later, during the Winter months.
Dicing vegetables prior to freezing helps cut down on the freezer space required. Your frozen vegetables can be pulled out and used just like the store purchased frozen vegetables. Add them to soups, stews or any other dish that you would normally use them with. This is a great way to cut down on your grocery bill all year round.
Preparing the food before freezing or canning is another option. A large batch of spaghetti sauce can be divided into freezer bags or canning jars with equal success. Peppers can be stuffed and frozen, just like the ones that can be purchased at the store.
Many favorite meals can be prepared and cooked fresh, then divided into portions and frozen for later use… homemade frozen dinners. This is an excellent way to save money. Pull these out on those days that you do not have time or do not feel like cooking, eating out does not have to be the only option.
Nearly every type of fruit and vegetable can be frozen or canned successfully. Even bananas freeze well! Skin them first, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them whole before bagging, or mash them and measure into freezer bags in amounts for your favorite recipe, then pop them right into the freezer. Corn can be frozen on or off the cob.
Just like with canning, the texture of your fruits and vegetables is not always the same as fresh once they have been frozen. But, they are just as tasty as the day they were frozen. If you make jams or jellies, berries of all types can be washed and frozen whole until you are ready to use them. Allow them to dry completely after washing and they will break apart rather easily to measure out when needed.
Dehydrating is yet another method for preserving the foods from the garden. Hot peppers retain their flavor and their heat, even when dehydrated. Many types of fruit can be dehydrated, these snack foods can be bought in many stores.
Canning requires jars, and lids with wax rings, and plenty of shelf space for storage. Freezing requires freezer bags and extra space in the freezer. Dehydrating requires some type of container as well, whether you store in bags or jars.
Although time seems to be the one ingredient that most of us have very little of these days, preserving food no longer needs to take days to accomplish. It can even be turned into a family activity. Canning food is an art. It is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Today, canning is not the only option for preserving food from your garden. The ability to freeze foods or to dehydrate them means that you can start new traditions. Pass along not only your love of gardening, but the ability to preserve those foods in many forms.
Anna Brown is an independent writer that enjoys writing on a variety of topics that provide useful information to the reader. To read more about gardening or to see the variety of information that is available, visit her blog at http://www.hiddentreasuresdirect.com