Who doesn’t want to bottle up the essence of summer and put it in a jar? You may not be able to pack away the sunshine or lazy holiday afternoons, but you can still savor that juicy peach or perfectly ripe blueberry with one of our 5 easy ways to preserve summer produce, no canning required. Because, whoa the time that takes.
Whether you’re a gardener or a regular at the farmer’s market (or even just the produce aisle of your supermarket), making that luscious, peak-season produce last just a little longer is easier than you think. Be it jamming or freezing, read on for 5 simple methods to preserve summer produce. Because you know one day too soon you’ll be staring at a beige turnip and dreaming about those juicy red tomatoes.
Easy ways to preserve summer produce: Jamming
Canning is annoying, it just is. Once you have the equipment and get the hang of it, it gets easier, of course, but for the sake of this post—and all of you nodding your heads in agreement—let’s celebrate good old fashioned refrigerator jam. Refrigerator jam may only last 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge, but it’s a great way to preserve summer produce that would otherwise go bad. Plus, with jam as delicious as this Easy Peach Jam at A Pretty Life in the Suburbs, it probably wouldn’t last longer anyway.
Pro tip: If you like thick-style jams, look for recipes that add a little pectin, a natural, fruit-based thickener used for jams and jellies.
Easy ways to preserve summer produce: Freezing
Freezing berries is incredibly easy; the trick is to make sure that your berries are clean and 100% dry before putting them in the freezer in a single layer. This tutorial on how to freeze blueberries at Love and Olive Oil offers a no-fuss method, plus Lindsay and Taylor share how this technique can work for blackberries, strawberries, peaches (or other stone fruit), and cherries. . . basically, my dream freezer stash.
Pro tip: I also like to freeze peeled tomatoes to have on hand for cooking through the colder months. You can’t eat them raw, as they’ll be mushy once thawed, but they’re a great addition to sauces, stews, and chilis.
Easy ways to preserve summer produce: Pickling
With just 3 easy steps, the Quick Pickles at Daily Burn transform summer veggies like radishes, green beans, and cucumbers into sweet and sour delights perfect for snacking or layering on sandwiches. After combining vinegar, salt, and sugar to make a basic brine, play around with fresh herbs and pickling spices.
Easy ways to preserve summer produce: Pesto
When basil is growing like a weed, it’s time to make pesto. In the recent and immensely helpful article “Five Sauces for the Modern Cook” at the New York Times, the Basic Pesto Recipe is both fine tuned and easy to pull together. You can also swap out pretty much any herb for the basil and play around with nut and cheese combinations. Or skip the dairy completely! Which, by the way, is probably a good idea for long term freezing. Instead, you can mix in the grated cheese after thawing, right before serving.
Easy ways to preserve summer produce: Dehydrating
There are two ways that you can dehydrate food: with a dehydrator or in a low temperature oven. With the oven, you can still achieve the same results as a dehydrator, but it will take a lot longer (hello, air conditioning bill). If you’re out for the day and only going to do this a couple of times a year, read How To Dry Fruit In The Oven at The Kitchn. Got a dehydrator, but stuck in a strawberry rut? Learn How To Dehydrate Tomatoes (above) at Love Love Thing and plop them into some olive oil for a delicious addition to, well, pretty much anything. Read the whole post to make sure that your tomatoes come out just right.