It’s that time of the year where everyone is starting to plan for how to preserve their garden goodies without letting anything go to waste. Here at 4,848 the nights are growing colder and the weather is starting to feel like fall. I’m sure we’ll be getting our first frost before too much longer. Garden clean up will be in full force soon so we can get ready to plant our cover crop for the season. So how do we savor our garden produce to enjoy it year round? There are many ways to preserve your food!
First let’s start with the most common way of preserving your food; canning. Since my garden (and i’m sure many others) have an abundance of tomatoes I will be sharing some tomato recipes. These recipes don’t belong to me, I found them online at smells-like-home.com. You can read more about the recipe here: https://www.smells-like-home.com/2014/08/home-canned-marinara-sauce/
- 18 pounds paste or roma tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- ¾ cup bottled lemon juice
- Core and roughly chop the tomatoes.
- In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, and salt until transparent, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down.
- Position a food mill or sieve over a large bowl and begin to press the hot tomatoes, onions and garlic through it, stopping to clear out the skins and seeds as needed (discard or compost the skins and seeds). Alternatively, you can run the vegetables through the food processor but this won’t remove the skins and seeds.
- Return the pressed tomatoes to the pot and simmer the sauce until it is reduced by one-third to one-half. The time for this will vary based on how juicy your tomatoes are – it took 4 hours for our sauce to cook down properly because our tomatoes were very juicy. About half an hour before you’re ready to can, stir in the basil and parsley.
- At the same time that you add the herbs, prepare a water bath and submerge 4 quart jars in the water and boil for 10 minutes. Place lids in a small saucepan over very low heat to gently simmer while you prepare the tomatoes.
- Take your prepared jars from the boiling water (of course, dumping the water back into the canning pot before proceeding) and add 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to the bottom of each jar. Using a large ladle, transfer the hot tomato sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace between the top of the sauce and the rim of the jar.
- Wipe the rims with a clean kitchen towel, add lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes. For smaller jars, reduce the processing time by 5 minutes.
- Transfer the processed jars to a clean towel and allow the jars to sit untouched at room temperature for 24 hours before checking the lids for a seal and storing for up to 1 year. If any lids have not sealed, as evidenced by that characteristic “pop”, put the unsealed jars in the refrigerator immediately and use the sauce within 1 week.
Another popular way to preserve your food is by using a dehydrator. You can dehydrate anything, but I love dehydrated tomatoes and using them in pasta or soup later on. I highly recommend dehydrating cherry tomatoes! They seem to hold together much better than bigger tomatoes. You can find more directions on how to dehydrate tomatoes here: https://gentlysustainable.com/how-to-dehydrate-tomatoes/
Last but not least, you can always freeze your garden produce to increase its freshness. There are many different ways to freeze your produce. You don’t want to freeze the entire vegetable whole, but you can get away with it when working with fruit. Smaller first that is, I have been known to throw an entire peach in the freezer trying to save it. Do yourself a favor and slice it into smaller pieces before just tossing it in the freezer- ha. The same goes for vegetables, you always want to cut or prepare it how you want to eat it before freezing it. This will also help save room in the freezer! Make sure you store your food in a freezer safe bag or bowl before putting it in the freezer. Here is a fun recipe for roasted tomatoes for the freezer: https://homemadeandyummy.com/simple-roasted-tomatoes/
A few things to keep in mind when preserving your food, you always want to label and date when you made it. I hope you have fun preserving your garden goodies to enjoy on those cold winter days. Please share your favorite canning recipe in the comments!