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I wrote a book about preserving food. The same step-by-step instruction and full-color photos you find in my blog. Buy it at Yes, You Can 

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Posts Tagged ‘dehydrating’

Preserve Produce from Your Small Kitchen Garden

When should you start preserving produce? As soon as you know how! I canned pineapple in January and February because I could buy them for a dollar apiece. If you want to preserve oranges and grapefruits, it’s best to do so when they’re in season in the US, and so, cheaper and fresher than when they ship from South America.

My small kitchen garden is still under water, but I know most kitchen gardeners already have things under way. So, while I impatiently wait for an opportunity to plant my cool-weather crops, I try to think up useful things to do to be ready. Not much there.

Instead, I’m rousing some rabble: Start thinking now about preserving your produce. Alarmingly, garden publishers and retail operators think that canning, freezing, dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, and what I call “sugaring” are autumnal activities. The reason, I suspect, is that people harvest the last of their produce in autumn, so that must be when you preserve it, right? Here’s why that’s totally idiotic:

You can’t preserve your own produce if it isn’t in season!

Preserving is a Year-Round Activity

The first produce I’ll be able to harvest from my small kitchen garden will be rhubarb. Shortly after that, strawberries will be ready. Then, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and a host of other mid-summer fruits will ripen. Heck, where sour cherries are available, you’re lucky to have a two-week window in which you can harvest and preserve them!

Retailers, booksellers, publishers—even garden book publishers who ought to know better—seem to think you preserve food in the fall. By fall, I can’t find fresh strawberries or appetizing rhubarb anywhere in central Pennsylvania. I NEED TO PRESERVE THESE in June and July! I like to make pies and freeze them raw and I explain how in my book.

On the vegetable side, greens prefer cool weather, and many types simply won’t be available after mid-June. Peas also suffer in summer heat, and you need to harvest and preserve them in June if you hope to have any to eat in November, December, January, and February.

Apparently, garden book publishers and garden supply retailers don’t understand the seasonality of produce. If it’s not autumn, it’s hard to get anyone excited about promoting and selling a book about preserving. So sad.

Have a Look at Yes, You Can!

Here’s my feeble promotional effort: If you’re new to preserving your garden produce, START NOW! Get your hands on a book that encourages you to think about preserving year-round. Don’t miss out on spring produce: frozen strawberries in the dog days of summer are astonishingly refreshing. Fruit pies taste amazing whenever you bake them… as long as you assemble and freeze them WHILE THE FRUIT IS IN SEASON! You can’t make strawberry jam or cherry jelly from fresh fruit IN SEPTEMBER!

I get one planting of peas per season in my small kitchen garden. With a bigger planting bed, I might harvest in the spring and fall, but to make room for winter squash, I clear out the cool weather crops near the beginning of summer. The peas I freeze in May and June taste nearly like fresh peas when I cook them in winter 7 months later.

Yes, this is a plug: I wrote Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry it, Too to introduce gardeners and foodies to the craft of preserving garden produce. Compared to other books about preserving food, Yes, You Can! is light; it’s kind of fun. I tried to make it feel as though we’re together in the kitchen learning about freezing, cold storage, dehydrating, making jam and jelly, candying fruit, fermenting produce, and even learning ways you might use your preserves later in the year.

I shot most of the photos in the book, and the designer did a spectacular job of making the layout lively and interesting… it’s not the typical, dry canning handbook. Over on Amazon, you can page through a good deal of it, though it looks far better on paper. Please have a look, buy a copy, and let me know how your preservation projects go. I started a page over on Facebook where I’d love to hear from other food-preservers. Please “like” the page, share your stories, and leave questions if you have any.

For about two weeks each year, there are sour cherries available in central Pennsylvania. I process at least eight quarts, but sometimes 16. These go into pies that I freeze, and into cherry jam that I preserve in a boiling water bath canner. My wife also makes cherry jelly. We enjoy the jam and jelly until the next year’s sour cherry harvest. YOU NEED TO LEARN how to make jam and jelly while the fruit’s in season!

 

Do you wait until October to harvest and preserve herbs from your small kitchen garden? I hope not! I start restocking my herb jars as soon as the plants mature. Preserving cilantro, especially, is a season-long project. But whenever your perennial herbs require a trim, you ought to be ready to dehydrate the extra for long-term storage.

 

One of my favorite photos for the book didn’t get into the book: This is a commercial “root cellar.” The operator stores several tons of potatoes here from harvest until late spring or early summer… and the facility stays cool using only insulation and cold air pumped in from outside! If you’re cold-storing potatoes you actually do wait until autumn to do that… but it would be useful to know how so you can prepare your root cellar before you harvest.

 

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Canning, Drying, Freezing at Your Small Kitchen Garden

I’ve written a book about preserving produce. Order your copy today and it will ship as soon as it’s available later this fall. Yes, You Can is a step-by-step guide to freezing, canning, drying, and otherwise preserving fruits and vegetables from your garden. Click the image above to reserve your copy.

Your Small Kitchen Garden blog has had a hard growing season. While I’ve kept the garden itself growing quite nicely, I’ve neglected the blog. Why? I wrote a book.

The book, Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too provides step-by-step instructions for nearly every home-preservation method:

  • It explains cold storage for root vegetables, onions, garlic, and cabbage
  • It walks you through freezing fruits and vegetables
  • It teaches the basics of preserving high-acid foods in a boiling water bath
  • It gives step-by-step instructions for making and preserving jams, jellies, and fruit syrups.
  • It reveals the procedures for canning low-acid foods in a pressure canner
  • It covers the fundamentals of fermenting vegetables to make such things as sauerkraut, kimchee, and pickles
  • It gets you started with quick-pickling to create pickles and relishes

While the book provides enough information to get you started with all of these preservation methods, it also provides insights into how to use the produce when you take it out of storage.

Kitchen Gardening up a Notch

Learning to preserve homegrown fruits and vegetables is a natural pursuit for a kitchen gardener. It’s so easy to tuck in a few extra plants and harvest more food than you can reasonably eat before it spoils. When you discover you have too many beans, carrots, tomatoes, or apples, it’s empowering to know how to put them up so you can use them later when there simply isn’t fresh produce growing locally.

Yes, You Can! came out half again as big as it intended to… enough to get you started preserving all kinds of fresh produce using all kinds of techniques.

So, the blog suffered this summer. Still, I wrote plenty to encourage kitchen gardeners. Perhaps Yes, You Can! will provide the impetus for them to grow their small kitchen gardens into larger ones. Yes, You Can! may not yet be in print, but you can order a copy today and it will ship to you as soon as it’s available.

In the meantime, Your Small Kitchen Garden blog and its sister, Your Home Kitchen Garden, will catch up on some of this season’s activities and look ahead to next year’s gardening projects.

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