It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Tomato season; peach season; berry season – all a few of our favorite things. But these are also some of the most fleeting fruits and veggies. The ones that you can’t find on the shelves as easily come October or November. We’re here to help.
Here are our five go-to methods for preserving summer produce for fall:
Try freezing eggplant to use in end-of-summer ratatouille or early winter eggplant Parm.
Here’s how: Blanch the eggplant before freezing to ensure it doesn’t become mushy. To blanch, cut eggplant into 1/3-inch thick pieces and then put them into a gallon of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until bright and crisp. Take the eggplant out of the water and then dry them with a paper towel before putting into an air-tight bag for freezing.
#ProTip – Double-bag the veggies you are freezing to ensure no air can get in and cause freezer burn.
Peaches are easy to freeze for a couple of months — save them to blend into smoothies this fall.
To freeze, wash peaches and pat completely dry, cut in half and slice into ½-inch thick pieces, then put into air-tight freezer bags and store for up to three months.
#ProTip – To thaw, run under cool water and then pat dry. And make sure to eat right after thawing for maximum freshness.
Canned tomatoes are a wonderful addition to stews and sauces in the chillier months. Tomatoes are also one of those veggies that really are the best in the summer, so preserving them for the colder months is ideal.
Blanch the tomatoes quickly in boiling water, which will help loosen the skin; then, peel off the skin and remove seeds before chopping the tomatoes into pieces. Transfer chopped tomatoes to a jar and add vinegar or some type of acidity to help them stay fresh longer.
#ProTip – Try lemon juice (instead of vinegar), basil, and salt for some added flavor.
Cucumbers, Onions, Peppers
Slice the cucumbers into even spears or discs, then pack them into a jar. Next, boil water with ¼-cup of salt, whatever spices/herbs you want (red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, cumin, dill, coriander, etc.), and then pour the liquid into the jar overtop the cucumbers and leave it to sit until the jar cools to room temperature. Pop them in the fridge and allow them to absorb the spices/herbs for a few days before eating.
#ProTip – Pickles will last for up to a month in the fridge in an air-tight jar.
Try freeze-jamming peaches into “freezerves” to make them last longer. Then you’ll have fresh peach preserves for a summery breakfast this fall.
Here’s a great recipe for freeze-jamming — which relies on pectin to get the right consistency instead of heat processing. Freezer jam typically contains less sugar and is thinner than regular jams. Some people think it’s even tastier and more flavorful than regular jam!
#ProTip – Store in small containers so you can enjoy in small amounts instead of taking an entire container out and then putting it back in the freezer
Want to experiment with something different? Freeze-dried watermelon is extra flavorful and delicious because all of the sugars are condensed and super-concentrated.
Slice the watermelon into ¼-inch thin strips as wide as you would like, and then put them into a food dehydrator overnight or around 8 to 12 hours, which will cause the fruit to set into a jerky-like consistency.
#ProTip – If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can use your oven — set at very low heat, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours — to dry out the watermelon. Perfect for back-to-school snacks!
Want more? Check out this Brightest Young Things’s late-summer produce recommendations; Gordy’s Pickle Jar’s hot chili brine gazpacho recipe (perfect for freezing!); and Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s strawberry jam cook-along.
Oh, and don’t forget to tune into our August Spotify playlist while you’re playing in the kitchen!