I save a bundle on my food budget by preserving garden or low-cost purchased produce. Proper preservation prevents vitamin loss and spoilage. The three basic types of food preservation are drying, canning, and freezing. Some foods (like apples, onions, potatoes, and winter squash) can also be preserved for a few months in their fresh state in a dark, dry, cool environment (like a basement or cellar.)
Many foods can be preserved in more than one way. I keep Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
on hand to help me decide what to do and for the best instructions available. This is what I try to do each year:
Can green beans, apple sauce, pears, and jam.
Freeze okra, beets, corn, peaches, blueberries, pumpkin puree, shredded zucchini (for baking), and lamb’s quarter.
Dry strawberries, apples, onions, peppers, and herbs. (I don’t dry every year–it’s more of a treat for us and is hard to do in our humid Missouri climate.)
This sounds like a lot, but I only tackle one at a time, which makes it more doable. Each produce item harvests at a slightly different time which keeps the tasks spread out.
Here are some links to past Grocery Shrink articles about preserving:
Final Thought: Most people think of home gardening when it comes to canning and freezing food. But there are other ways to get quantities of food to preserve. A friend of mine volunteers at a local food pantry. At the end of the day, they send with her what the visitors don’t take. She takes it home and cans and preserves it. A dear family from church has pear and apple trees in their yard and they can’t use all the fruit. They call me every fall after they have picked to take what they can’t use. My mother in law has also purchased large boxes of produce from Amish food auctions for preserving. I like to buy my pumpkins from local grocery stores and farmer’s markets after Halloween. They have lots of life left and are great for making into puree. You also might advertise to care for gardens during the summer as people vacation. Ask in pay for the ripe produce you harvest during the vacation. It keeps the plants producing and reduces pests for the owner and you get fresh food for the labor.
Really, final thought: You can also preserve fresh produce by freezing it already prepared. We like to freeze zucchini muffins and pumpkin bread for a quick thaw and eat breakfast or for unexpected company. You can also freeze vegetable lasagna, veggie pancakes, marinara sauce, and veggie rich meatballs.