Preserving home-grown fruits and vegetables

With a wonderful bounty of fresh produce, sometimes the garden overflows. Many home gardeners consider preserving the fruits of their labor to enjoy throughout the years to come. Preserving your own food can also be a big cost savings.

Freezing is one of the easiest ways to preserve food, but canning, drying or creating a root cellar work for particular foods and aren’t as labor intensive as they sound.

Cucumbers, green beans, peppers, onions, cauliflower and even watermelon rinds can be pickled.

An easy pickling recipe from Mother Earth News requires no canning, just a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Tomatoes can be preserved as salsa, sauce or just diced. Using a boiling water bath, tomatoes and pickles can be preserved without a canning pressure cooker due to the acidity content.

Cherries, plums, rhubarb, plums, pears and apricots can be made into jams and jellies and canned. Fruits can be packed into jars raw or preheated and packed hot.

To can fruit without adding sugar or salt, check out the CSU Cooperative Extension’s article “Food Preservation Without Sugar or Salt.” 

Dried fruits, such as apples, cherries and grapes, last well into the winter, if you don’t eat them all before then! Use a drying tray or an oven. Keep dried foods for up to a year by using a vacuum sealer.

Freeze shredded Zucchini for later use. Pumpkin can be steamed, pureed, and frozen. Try freezing pre-measured amounts for easy defrost. Turn a bumper basil crop into pesto, frozen into cubes, which is also easy to defrost for a quick dinner. Remember to label each with the date.

Hard-sided squash, such as acorn, butternut and spaghetti, can last for months in cool, dry areas, no preparation needed!

CSU Extension’s Preserve Smart program is a wonderful resource for all your food preservation related questions including the impacts of elevation on food preservation, selecting a preservation method, and using the right equipment.

Originally published on August 3rd, 2011. Updated on August 2nd, 2021.