Preserving the Harvest

As harvest season kicks into full gear, many gardeners begin to gather more produce than they can eat from their gardens. Family, friends, and neighbors are often the lucky recipients of the extra abundance. But what do you do when everyone is overly saturated with the goodness of locally grown fruits and veggies? The answer is food preservation! Food preservation comes in many forms, and has the added benefit of allowing you to enjoy the harvest long after the growing season has ended.

From canning, freezing, and drying to curing, pickling, and fermenting, there are a variety suitable food preservation techniques to fit your needs. For the most up-to-date, scientific-research-supported preservation methods, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation. They are a comprehensive source for how-to guides and safety tips, and also offer a good selection of recipes. Another excellent source of food preservation information is the Oregon State University Extension Service. They provide extensive resources on their website and a toll free Food Safety and Preservation Hotline with Master Food Preservers available to answer your food safety questions from July through October. Master Food Preservers also occasionally offer classes, like the “Dehydration: An Ancient Art for Modern Times” class on September 24th.

Before you embark on any food preservation adventures, be sure to carefully read and follow the directions of the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the Oregon State University Extension Service to reduce any risk of food contamination from botulism, yeasts, molds, or other microorganisms.

Once you are familiar with the techniques that will allow you to safely preserve your harvest, the next step is transforming your fresh produce into delicious goodies that you can enjoy in the months to come. There are countless recipes available online. From dill pickles, sauerkraut, summer squash relish, and spiced tomato jam to fruit leathers and pear preserves, your choices are seemingly endless. Now gather up that garden produce and start canning (or fermenting, or…)!