5 Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Produce

5 Easy Ways to Preserve Summer Produce

Publish Date July 1, 2024 4 Minute Read
Author MyMagazine Staff

Our Produce Department is packed with premium fresh fruits and vegetables right now, and at the best prices of the year! It can be tempting to take home pounds and pounds of all your favorites — and we say go for it. If you’re a home canner, you know exactly what to do to make sure nothing goes to waste. But if special equipment and hot water baths aren’t for you, try these fast, simple ways to save summer produce, especially if you have some freezer space to spare.

1. Freeze Fresh Berries

When it comes to freezing berries, it’s a no-brainer to use the same technique used by the pros: the IQF method. That stands for “individually quick frozen.”

To do this at home, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange berries in a single layer with space in between them. Set in the freezer for about an hour — until the berry exteriors freeze firmly. Transfer to a freezer bag for long-term storage. Freezing them this way means they won’t fuse together in a big berry clump.

Then, you can make this fresh berry crisp anytime of the year!

2. Blanch and Freeze Tomatoes

If you look forward to the taste of ripe summer tomatoes all year long, this simple technique allows you to easily save them for winter soups, stews, chilis and sauces.

To start, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a sharp paring knife to make an X on the bottom of each tomato. To blanch, toss tomatoes into the boiling water for a minute or two. Then, remove with a slotted spoon and plunge them into an ice water bath to immediately stop the cooking. Once the tomatoes have cooled, slip off the skins, and place the tomatoes in quart-size freezer bags.

Another good strategy is to make big batches of a basic tomato sauce that can morph into spaghetti sauce or stand in for tomatoes in a shakshuka.

3. Cut Corn off the Cob and Freeze

Sometimes the sweetness of summer corn is exactly the midwinter pick-me-up you need. If you act now, you’ll be ready! You’ll want to husk and de-silk the ears first. Then place one end of the ear on the center ring of a bundt pan, applying light pressure to secure. Draw a sharp knife down the corn to strip the kernels — they’ll fall right into the pan for easy collection with minimal runaways. Transfer the corn to a freezer bag.

Don’t discard those cobs. Put them in a stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock into quart-size containers and freeze. It’s delicious for making corn risotto or corn chowder, or substitute it for chicken or vegetable broth.

How To: Cut Corn Off the Cob

A bundt pan provides a sturdy base — and ample space to catch those kernels.

4. Make Quick Pickles

Making quick pickles is as easy as boiling some vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices, and pouring the brine over whatever veggies you want to pickle. Use smaller bumpy-skinned cucumbers for whole pickles, or cut larger or thicker-skinned varieties into spears or rounds. Make sure to wash them thoroughly to remove any waxy covering.

Pack as many cucumbers into a jar as you can without crowding, then bring the pickling mixture to a boil. Pour it into the jar and seal. Once it cools, transfer it to the refrigerator. Try to wait a day or two before cracking it open as flavor improves over time. The opened jar will stay good in the fridge for several weeks.

How To: Quick Pickle

5. Try Refrigerator Jam

The simplest jams are just one part sugar to two parts fruit cooked down until thick, sweet and spreadable. You don’t need to do anything special with your jam after making it — simply keep it in the fridge in a sealed container for up to several weeks. For longer storage, freeze it. Freezer jams can last more than six months and brighten up February scones with sunny summer flavors.

Some jam recipes call for pectin, which is a type of powdered starch that helps jams and jellies “set.” You can make jam with or without pectin, depending on the recipe.

Jam Recipes