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Home Kitchen Garden

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My Book!

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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Sprouts is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.


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Grow a Larder Full of Produce

Homemade sour cherry jam on yogurt

A late-night snack of plain yogurt dressed with homemade sour cherry jam is healthful and delicious. Get the most out of your home vegetable gardening by learning to preserve.

As I sat down to write this month about what you can grow, I set up a bowl of plain, probiotic yogurt with a generous dollop of homemade sour cherry jam. I’ve enough homemade jam and jelly in my larder for all the cooking I might do: baking thumbprint cookies, making salad dressings and marinades, flavoring yogurt and cottage cheese, stuffing brie… I’ll also give away about 60 half-pint jars as gifts.

But messy as it is, my larder holds much more than jam and jelly. There are jars of grape drink, sweet corn, pickles, pineapple, applesauce, barbeque sauce, red pepper relish, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, salsa, and various fruit syrups as well. I haven’t canned enough to free me from grocery shopping, but many meals draw from the larder assuring I know exactly what goes into the food I prepare.

Canning, Freezing, Drying, and Cold Storage

While I do a lot of canning, I employ other food-preservation methods as well. For example, this season I’ve blanched and frozen peas, three types of beans, and a whole lot of sweet corn. Soon, I’ll harvest about 15 winter squashes and roll them under a bed where they’ll keep well into next summer. And, if I stay focused, I’ll harvest a whole lot of herbs to dehydrate and refill my spice rack.

Larder of home-canned produce

I’ve seen some amazingly tidy larders with jars in straight rows, but mine rarely looks so good. The upper shelf here holds jars I filled this season—and there are at least five more cases to add. The lower shelf holds last year’s goodies… I need to become more aggressive about using them in my cooking.

It sounds like a lot of work, but happily the work is easy. To prep produce for preserving, you wash it, pare it, pit it, and cut it up as you would were you preparing it for a meal. I plan for preserving: I plant way more than we’ll consume in-season, and put it in storage as I harvest it.

But I don’t stop with my own produce. I stock up at farmers’ markets and grocery surplus stores when produce is cheap. For example, this week I bought 50 ears of sweet corn for $10 and pressure-canned 19 pints—and when pineapple is in season (often selling then for $1 apiece) in January and February, I expect I’ll can a dozen or so pints.

Your Home Preserves

There are several compelling reasons to preserve at home:

  • You extend your enjoyment of your produce garden through the winter
  • You cut down on the chemical additives in your diet
  • You lock in nutrients when the produce is fresh (many store-bought “fresh” veggies lose a lot of vitamins between harvest and dinner service)
  • You can save money by buying produce in bulk
  • You create a store of food that tastes way better than canned, frozen, and dehydrated foods available in grocery stores

If you’ve been thinking about preserving your own, but you’re experiencing some inertia, give yourself a little push. Few things are as satisfying for a kitchen gardener as filling up a larder with home-preserved goodies. You can grow that!

Want help getting started? I’ve posted several articles about home food preserving and linked to them from this blog. Click “Preserving” in the menu at the top of this page to get to the article index. I’ve also written a book that teaches the fundamentals of canning, freezing, drying, cold storage, and fermentation. You can buy a copy by clicking the book’s cover in the left sidebar of this page.

A canned food sampler

A few jars I filled in the past few weeks, from left-to-right. Bottom row, front: tomato sauce, dice orange tomatoes, diced red tomatoes, diced mixed tomatoes, and 2 more jars of tomato sauce. Top row, front: 2 jars pear jelly, 2 jars peach jelly. Second row: 2 pints sweet corn, 2 pints peach syrup, 2 pints blueberry syrup.

You Can Grow That celebrates gardening each month. The list of this month’s celebrants and links to their posts are at You Can Grow That.


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