7 Quick Ways to Preserve Summer Fruits and Vegetables

Tips for Preserving Summer ProduceIt's hard to believe, but Labor Day is a week away, and autumn isn't far behind. Lucky for us, though, late-summer fruits and vegetables are still plentiful at markets and farm stands. Canning and preserving have always seemed to me to be the ultimate methods for revisiting those summer flavors in the depths of winter. However, I was never willing to take the time or make room to put up huge batches of raspberry jam or jars of crunchy dills. What I do hope to try - before the end of the season - is to maximize my produce, even for just an extra week or two, by doing some quick, small-batch preserving - then storing in the fridge or freezer.

If you can't eat all your fruit before it's past its prime, try one of these quick jams (three-berry, ginger-peach, or raspberry/blueberry). They rely on sugar and pectin to make preserves that are fruity and fresh-tasting and will last up to three weeks in your refrigerator.

Related: How to Freeze Anything

Have an abundance of zucchini? This relish is one of my favorites - it's great spooned onto hot dogs and so much tastier than store-bought versions packed with tons of corn syrup.

Green beans as a snack may sound weird, but believe me, these are worth a try. They're pretty tasty with some juicy barbecued chicken too.

Feeling extra thrifty? Once you've devoured all that juicy super-ripe melon, make a pickle from the rind. It goes especially well with grilled pork tenderloin.

I love to grow basil in my backyard, but I'm always sad when it starts to become a little too chilly for it to remain lush and green. To use it up before it's too late, I often make pesto and freeze it in small portions. You can try mixing in some parsley too.

Related: Guide to Freezing Food

If you've been inspired to take the leap to true canning in bigger batches, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website - it's a good jumping-off point. And since artisanal pickles and jams have had a recent resurgence (at least here in the Northeast) there are so many new books (and old favorites) available you won't have a problem finding tons of appetizing recipes.

What are your favorite fruits and vegetables to preserve? Let me know in the comments!

- by Catherine Lo

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