Preserving Your Bountiful Harvests
Garden Tip of the Month
If you are an avid gardener, harvesting is no stranger to you. It’s probably one of your favorite parts of the garden: taking the fruits and vegetables straight from the plant or ground and consuming them at your leisure. This is WHY you garden, right?
But what happens when you are just TOO good at tending your plants and your squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes give you more than you can handle? Do you invite all your neighbors over for dinner? Or maybe you pawn off your extra veggies to family and friends. Another option you might consider is a way people kept food from spoiling before the salvation of refrigerators. Preservation of all shapes and sizes!
There are a number of ways to preserve your fresh, delicious garden goodies:
- Jams & Jellies
The internet is a wealth of information and resources for finding just the right instructions and recipes for your bountiful harvests. One resource that covers preservation techniques fully is the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Some of our favorite preservation recipes are listed below for quick refrigerator pickles and an easy sauerkraut. Enjoy and happy food saving!
Quick Refrigerator Dill Pickles Recipe
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 2 1-pint wide-mouth mason jars with lids
- 1 pound small cucumbers
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 small chili peppers (optional)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- ⅔ cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 large handful fresh dill
WHAT TO DO:
- Wash two mason jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse, and let air dry.
- Quarter the cucumbers into four slices each, lengthwise. Cut 3 cloves garlic in half. If desired, slice 4 chili peppers in half and add to the jars.
- In a spare mason jar or covered container, combine 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1½ tablespoons kosher salt and ⅔ cup white vinegar. Tightly close the lid and shake vigorously until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add 1 cup water to the mixture.
- In the two clean mason jars, tightly pack the cucumbers, garlic, fresh dill, and chili peppers (if using).
- Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers. Tap the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles and top off the jar with extra water if any cucumbers are exposed.
- Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings until they are tight. Leave the jars in the fridge for 24 hours before tasting. The pickles last up to one month refrigerated.
Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 1 head of cabbage
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife or grater
- 2-quart wide-mouth jar
- Cloth and rubber band
WHAT YOU DO:
- Clean everything.
- Slice the cabbage into fine slices/strands. *Save a large outer leaf for later*
- Combine the cabbage and salt. Massage in a large bowl with your hands until the cabbage “wilts” and juices appear. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the caraway seeds during this process for flavor.
- Pack the cabbage into the jar. Pour the juices that were released during the massaging over the packed cabbage.
- Place one of the large outer leaves you saved over the surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
- Weigh the cabbage down with something heavy if necessary to keep it submerged.
- Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. This will let air flow in and out of the jar while preventing dust or insects from getting in.
- Press the cabbage down every few hours over the next day, keeping it packed down.
- You can always add more salt water if the liquid has not risen above the cabbage. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of water and add whatever amount you need to submerge the cabbage.
- Keep the jar at a cool room temperature, away from sunlight. It will take about 3-10 days for the cabbage to ferment. Start tasting it after 3 days to see how it’s doing!