Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Canning and Freezing

As summer begins to wane I’ve started planning what fruits and vegetables I want to can or freeze. We have a small garden in our backyard and have a few things that I’ll be able put up for winter including peas, zucchini and carrots. I live in a climate with an extremely short growing season (~40 days) and so getting much produce is a challenge. This year my broccoli went to seed immediately without any viable fruit produced. My spinach went to seed and the arugula barely sprouted—ugh! Gardening seems to be a wild and varying experiment every year.

I plan to freeze the following vegetables, usually I quickly blanch them and let them dry and then put them in freezer.
  • Corn, approximately one box will last my family of 3 all winter. We use it in tacos, stir fries, green chile.
  • Green beans, I’ll buy as many as I can stand to snap the ends off of—one of my least favorite tasks.
  • Basil, I use close to a pound of basil and make pesto. I freeze the pesto in small jars or ice cube trays for serving.
For canning I use a pressure canner. I live at 7,700 feet above sea level and it’s the only way to safely can (and it doesn’t take nearly as long). I plan to can the following:
  • Tomatoes, approximately one box (20 or so pounds) will get me through the winter. I usually make soup, spaghetti sauce and chili. I haven’t tried making salsa before but this may be the year!
  • Applesauce, one box of applesauce will make enough applesauce to last us about 6 months. It’s great in yogurt and in pancakes too.
  • Peaches and pears, one box of each would last me quite a long time. I haven’t tried canning fruit before because I’m a little wary of the sugary syrup that usually goes along with it. I think it’s possible to do a light (read: less sugar) syrup so I may give it a try. I usually freeze some peaches also—they’re good for adding to quick breads, pancakes and for baby food if you have a little one.
  • Pinto beans. I’m considering beans this year—I hear they’re delicious and really easy to can. We’re not big bean eaters in our family so this will just depend on time.
I love canning and freezing local and homegrown fruits and vegetables. I know exactly where they come from and I don’t have to worry about any BPA’s or nasty chemicals associated with aluminum cans. Honestly, I also feel a pretty big sense of accomplishment and pride that I’m continuing the tradition on canning and freezing that I remember my grandmother doing.

Do you can or freeze? What’s your favorite fruit or vegetable? Check out the Ball website for great information and tips.

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