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Preserving Summer: Everything You Need to Know About Canning, Drying, and Freezing

Preserving your harvest will ensure great health and fresh foods for your family and is a "must" for sustainability.

Oh yes, you can do this.  For successful preserving, all you have to do is be prepared, have the right tools available, and have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Almost anything can be preserved, whether by canning, freezing or drying.

I have all this and many recipes for preserving in my Harvest cookbook! Read more about it HERE.

People think that canning or drying foods is scary and difficult, but just the opposite: it is healthy and easy.   When you can, dry, and freeze the produce you have grown, you know absolutely everything that has gone into those vegetables and fruits.

Preserving your food only takes a little time and energy. The payoff is much greater than your effort - you will save time, money, and experience better food in the long run!

Preserving your food only takes a little time and energy. The payoff is much greater than your effort – you will save time, money, and experience better food in the long run!

You are taking charge of your own health and food.  Not only are you taking charge of your family’s health and the food that they eat, you are working together as a family for a common good and enjoying relationships that will last for a lifetime, not to mention extra money for any surplus that you may sell.

Every year my family sells canned figs, mint jellies, and other preserves at an upscale arts and crafts show in our community.  We sell a lot of different items, but the canned preserves are always the first to go and at a high price, too!

BUY THE BOOK!

General Preserving Tips

Be organized and prepared before beginning.  Always, always read your recipe carefully and thoroughly, and gather all of your equipment and ingredients.  Make sure all equipment is in good condition, no broken or cracked jars or rusted bands. Always use new lids.

Preserving by Canning

Stacy Lyn Harris canning tomatoes. Canning tomatoes is super easy and healthy!

Stacy Lyn Harris canning tomatoes. Canning tomatoes is super easy and healthy!

There are two main approaches to canning: the boiling water canning method and the pressure canning method.  Fruits and tomatoes may be processed using the boiling water method found below, but the United States Department of Agriculture recommends that the pressure canner method is the only safe method for canning low acid foods such as vegetables, poultry and meats.  

If using the pressure canner method, always be sure to follow instructions in your manual.  The steps will be the same as the boiling method of canning up until you place the jars into the canner.

Canning Equipment isn't very expensive. It doesn't take much to enjoy fresh vegetables all year long.

Canning Equipment isn’t very expensive. It doesn’t take much to enjoy fresh vegetables all year long.

Ready to get started canning?

You can find step-by-step instructions for both canning methods here

Granny's Homemade Soup is fantastic to can and have on hand during the cold months. You need a pressure canner for soups, fruits, and vegetables that are low in acid.

Granny’s Homemade Soup is fantastic to can and have on hand during the cold months. You need a pressure canner for soups, fruits, and vegetables that are low in acid.

Do not forget to label and date.  Personalize your creations with labels, pieces of cloth and ribbons.  You will love these as you begin to use them – they might even be given for gifts, or taken to parties.  ENJOY!!!! 

Preserving by Freezing

Freezing is a fantastic way to lock in flavor from fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits from your harvest. It is super easy.

Freezing is a fantastic way to lock in flavor from fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits from your harvest. It is super easy.

Freezing is a great way to preserve your harvest.  This is my favorite way to preserve meat as well as many vegetables and fruits.

Freezing meat is a “must” for those of you buying whole cows or those that hunt large game.  Meat can be canned and dried, but freezing saves room and allows for more options in cooking.  After allowing freshly harvested meat such as poultry, wild game, or recently butchered beef to age, wrap in airtight, moisture proof containers.  Of course, there are vacuum sealers that are an excellent way to freeze meats.  If you are freezing a lot, I recommend this vacuum sealer.

There are freezer jars and plastic containers, but my favorite is freezer paper.  It saves room and is easy to label.  There are great instructions that come with the freezer paper.  I like to double wrap the meat to insure freshness.  Always thaw your meat in the refrigerator when ready to use the meat.

Click here for tips on freezing fruit, vegetables, and meat.

Preserving by Drying

Stringing peppers and drying them is the perfect way to preserve them and a great way of enjoying family time as well.

Stringing peppers and drying them is the perfect way to preserve them and a great way of enjoying family time as well.

Drying is perhaps the oldest method of preserving.  It dates back to the days of our ancient ancestors and Native Americans. They preserved their harvests long before canners, pressure cookers, and freezers were invented.  They sun-dried their fruits and vegetables, but I prefer using the oven, or a dehydrator if you prefer. I do not have to deal with insects that way!  It is easy to dry fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even chili peppers.  You more than likely already have all that is needed to pursue preservation by this method.

Drying Beans and Peppers

1. Wash your harvest and string your beans, peppers, and herbs together with a needle and heavy-duty thread or fishing line, making a knot around each bean.

2. Repeat until the thread is full and then simply hang these beans for several months in a dry place.

Drying Fruits and Vegetables

Drying fruit is the perfect way to preserve flavor and to keep healthy snacks on hand.

Drying fruit is the perfect way to preserve flavor and to keep healthy snacks on hand.

One of my favorite methods of drying is that of using the oven or a dehydrator. My children especially love preserving their harvest by this method.  They love making dried fruits such as peaches, apples, figs, and berries.  I love them preserving using the drying method as they eat these delicious fruits and berries as snacks rather than all of the snacks chocked full of sugars and artificial ingredients that seem to have made their way into our diets at the grocery stores.  Preserving really offers us a much healthier way of living our lives.  If using a dehydrator, follow the instructions in your manual.

Drying using Oven

1. Set the oven to the lowest possible setting.

2. Slice your fruits and vegetables into thin pieces and place on a cookie sheet.

3. Cook overnight or until all moisture is removed.

4. Store your dried goods, pack them in freezer bags or in food-saver packets.  Freeze them for up to a year.

MAKING JERKY….LOVE IT!! 

And, let’s not forget jerky. My men love their jerky. After they have prepared the finer venison for the freezer, they use the less desired meat for jerky.  The result is another wonderfully healthy snack loaded with protein.

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Thinly slice meat and season as you desire.

3. Place meat about 1/2 inch apart on a cookie sheet.

3. Bake for six hours.

All of this information, plus way way more is my latest book, Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook. You can order it on amazon here or get a signed copy by ordering here.

 

 

 

 

 

7 responses to “Preserving Summer: Everything You Need to Know About Canning, Drying, and Freezing”

  1. […] Preserving: Everything You Need to Know About Canning, Drying, or Freezing […]

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your methods. I plan on taking baby steps on ways to removing myself from the grocery store reliance and canning is my first goal. I have always felt intimidated by the process, but your step-by-step instructions really help. Don’t get me wrong, feel blessed to live in a country where I can get whatever I need at the local super market, yet I want the comfort that comes along with knowing what you are putting in your body and feeding your family. I’m very excited to get started!

    • Stacy Harris says:

      I am so glad Kristina that you are taking your health and food into your own hands. All of us start with baby steps. You won’t believe how soon you will know these skills by heart. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact me!!! Love hearing from you.

  3. […] summer, this tool will be in use at my home. Some vegetables can be canned perfectly in the water bath canner and others need to be canned in the pressure canner. One lucky winner will win both canners and a 6 […]

  4. […] • Want to learn more about canning, drying, and freezing? Everything you need to know is right here! […]

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