One of the things I definitely miss most while in the depths of a Maine winter is the delicious variety of fruits and vegetables that are available during the summer. While squashes, kale, root vegetables and other winter veggies are great as well, sometimes all you want is a taste of a sun gold tomato in December!
The go-to way to make food last long is by canning it because it doesn’t use fridge space and the cans can last virtually forever. If you are ready to take on a day of canning- go you!! You could be set with fruits, veggies, sauces, salsas all winter long. The internet has tons of instructions and words of advice about how to can. Here is one site to learn the basics of canning.
There are definitely other ways to make produce last long, but these involve using up some freezer space. Here are a few simple ways and example products to go along with the method.
- Freeze berries for smoothies or baked goods. In order to not create frozen clumps or fruit covered with freezer burn, wet the fruit and then spread it out on a baking sheet so that none are touching. Place the tray in the freezer until frozen and then you can move them into ziplock bags for easier storage.
- Make pesto or salsa ice cubes for quick additions to recipes. Basil and tomatoes are two veggies that grow super fast for a short period of time in the summer. Take advantage of these products (and others) by cooking a big batch of your favorite sauce. While you can freeze all the sauce in a bag or recycled plastic container, you can also divide the batch into ice cube trays and once frozen, transport them to a more convenient storage vessel. This allows you to take a little bit at a time rather than having to defrost the entire batch.
- Bake breads, muffins, or cookies and freeze them. Do you love zucchini bread more than anyone else? Make several batches over the summer when zucchinis are perfectly in season and then place them in your freezer. They will last for months! Making individual portions, like mini loaves or muffins will allow you to remove one at a time to defrost. This also works for making blueberry pancakes, pumpkin waffles, and cinnamon apple french toast!
- Quick pickle your veggies! Cucumbers, carrots, and radishes can be made into fridge pickles in about 10 minutes. Vinegar, your favorite spices and seasonings, and maybe some water are all you need to make crunchy pickles that will be ready in about a week. Here is a basic recipe . My favorite is fresh garlic and black peppercorn.
Essentially, just because a fruit or vegetable is going out of season doesn’t mean you don’t get to eat it anymore. Source your food locally all year round by taking extra measures to can, freeze, and pickle produce.