July is a time of unparalleled abundance in our gardens and at our local farms. The hard work has come to fruition and now we have lots of fresh produce. This bounty provides us an opportunity to eat the freshest, most delicious and most nutritious produce available. From luscious berries, juicy tomatoes, and crisp cucumbers to sweet corn, velvety peaches, and succulent melons, the variety seems endless. But what do we do to ensure that none of this goes to waste? In this blog post, we will discuss the ways that we can store, preserve and share what we have now!
Check out John's Farmers Market Report for the month of July!
Different Ways to Preserve Produce
Canning and Pickling: Canning and pickling are age-old methods of preserving the essence of summer. By immersing fruits and vegetables in acidic solutions or sealing them in airtight jars, we can retain their freshness and flavor for months. In addition to standard pickling, other things that we can preserve are jams, jellies, and chutneys made from seasonal fruits which are delightful additions to our pantry. Want to learn how to make a fig and apple chutney? Watch our Spicy Sweet Potato Cakes with Fig and Apple Chutney Chesapeake Bite!
Freezing: Freezing is another excellent way to preserve the harvest's goodness. Many fruits and vegetables can be blanched and frozen, locking in their nutrients and flavors. Additionally, freezing herbs in olive oil or water in ice cube trays allows us to add a dash of summer to our dishes during the colder months.
Drying: Drying is a traditional preservation technique that removes moisture from produce, extending its shelf life. Sun-drying tomatoes and herbs or using a dehydrator for fruits like apples and apricots not only saves space but also concentrates flavors.
Fermenting: Fermentation not only preserves food but also enhances its nutritional value by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented pickles are examples of delicious and probiotic-rich fermented foods that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Creating Long-Lasting Staples
Homemade Sauces: Utilize the abundance of tomatoes, peppers, and onions to create versatile homemade sauces like marinara, salsa, and barbecue sauce. These can be canned or frozen for use in various dishes during the off-season.
Fruit Preserves: Turn surplus berries, stone fruits, and citrus into delectable preserves that can be spread on toast, used as toppings for desserts, or incorporated into pastries.
Herb-infused Oils and Vinegar: Infuse oils and vinegar with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil. These flavorful concoctions can add depth to salad dressings, marinades and culinary creations.
Sharing the Bounty
July's abundance provides an opportunity to foster a sense of community and generosity. If your garden produces more than you can consume, consider sharing the surplus with friends, family, neighbors, or local food banks. Sharing fresh, nutritious produce not only benefits those in need but also strengthens the bonds within your community.
Supporting Your Community
Embracing the abundance of July also means supporting local farmers and community initiatives. Farmers' markets are an excellent way to connect with local growers and purchase fresh, seasonal produce. Consider joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which offers a share of the harvest throughout the growing season. By engaging with local farms, we not only support sustainable agriculture but also reduce our ecological footprint.
July is a time of celebration for farmers, gardeners, and food enthusiasts alike. It's a moment when nature's generosity shines through, offering us abundant fresh produce. By employing various preservation techniques, we can savor the flavors of summer well into the off-season. Embracing this bountiful season also means supporting local agriculture and sharing the surplus with others, fostering a sense of togetherness and sustainability. So, let us revel in the riches of July's harvest and cherish the gifts it bestows upon us.