In my kitchen at the moment there is a constant line up of jars and lids being readied, bowls of ingredients on the bench, my notepad and pens, scales and measuring equipment. All waiting to be put into action to hang onto that last taste of Summer.
I preserve as much as I think my family will consume in the coming 6-8 months. Preserving is not just about making jams and chutney, there are many ways to preserve produce.
Below is an outline of some of the things I tend to do at the end of Summer each year for various produce.
I tend to go into a frenzied mode of production at this time each year for these reasons:
- Buying the glorious abundance and array of fruit and vegetable produce when it is in season is the cheapest (and best) time to do so.
- Buying in-season produce supports the Australian farming community, especially if you are buying directly from the farmer.
- This year I have used my activities to describe produce availability, seasons and cycles of food production to my son. The end of Summer is a good time to do this as the produce begins to change in the fruit store and at the markets
- I personally do not like to purchase fruits or vegetables that have been imported from overseas. I avoid that product until it is back in season.
- Preserving allows me to continue to access some seasonal produce for a little longer – in a different form obviously
- Preserving is one way to hold onto the flavors of a season a little longer
- Preserving means there is no wasted produce from my garden. It is the perfect way to use up an oversupply or glut of any particular fruit or vegetable
- Preserving fills my pantry with food staples that can save me trip to the store at the end of a busy day. I can easily what is on hand to make up an endless array of meals.
Below is my summary of the ways that I use, and store the vegetables that I grow in my garden, or seek from local farmers at this time of year.
- Make jam
- Oven dry (or dehydrate) for use in baking
- Puree and dehydrate the mixture to make fruit leather for lunch box snacks
- Process and freeze in ice cubes for baking and smoothies and to make into fruit ice blocks for the kids
- Sorbet – no need to purchase ice cream
- Cook and freeze to use for pie filling or baking
Local lemons are just disappearing from our local fruit store and are being replaced with imported ones. I picked up a couple of kilos of the last of the local lemons and used them in the following way:
- Preserved Lemons
- Lemon curd
- Juice as many as possible and freeze the juice in ice cube trays –
- This is my favorite way to store lemons over a period of time
- Each cube is approximately 1 tablespoon each and can be defrosted as required for salad dressings, toppings or baking.
I adore home grown tomatoes and so there is not usually a huge amount left after my daily quota is devoured. This season I have been having a love affair with salsa and have been making it on a continual basis as a side dish in the evening. I also like to use my tomatoes to make:
- Tomato Sauce
- Sauce can be frozen in portion sizes to be used on pizza bases or to add to casseroles and slow cooked meals over Winter.
- Chilli Jam
- Tomato Chutney
- Oven dried or dehydrated
- They may also be oven baked and then frozen to add to meals in the coming months
I love to bake with zucchinis. I grate them into as many dishes as possible that can be frozen and stockpiled for back up meals, snacks for school and lunches or lazy dinners.
- muffins and
- sausage rolls
- zucchini rolls,
- zucchini chips
- fritters with haloumi
It doesn’t seem to matter how many my plants produce, I can usually find a use for them.
Eggplants and Capsicums:
These ingredients are lovely to bring out of the cupboard when guests drop in unexpectedly. They make a great addition to an antipasto platter or to add to pasta or slow cooked meals when there is are no fresh ingredients available.
I would love to hear of any other ways to bottle the goodness of Summer produce. If you have any not listed here please tell me about them.
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