Wise Food Storage | End of Summer Food Preservation Guide
This post will explain why every household should learn the basics of wise food storage. The end of summer is the best time to practice these basic food preservation techniques and be sure to have plenty of tasty ingredients for winter meals. It’s good for your health and your budget!
Wise Food Storage and Preserving Food at the End of Summer
Eating local and seasonal is a perfect lifestyle for people interested in simplicity, environmental sustainability, family budget management, and healthy eating practices. For those of us in regions that have four distinct seasons, the winter months pose a particular problem for seasonal eating. We need to learn wise food storage methods for preserving summer harvests.
This will help solve the problem of sourcing fresh and local ingredients in the offseason.
There are a growing number of winter farm share programs across the United States. Food co-ops have always been a good source for local and seasonal foodstuffs in the winter months. But, I want to make the case that food preservation is easy and an affordable way to keep winter meals tasty, healthy, affordable and seasonal.
Read on the learn about wise food storage and end of summer food preservation. I detail 7 long-term food preservation methods and then give a list of further resources to help you deepen your wise food storage techniques.
I also created a Quick Guide to End of Summer Food Preservation with simple recipes of the most popular end of summer foods. Click here to learn more and download your copy right now!
Then, read on for all that essential information for wise food storage at the end of summer.
How to Preserve Food at the End of Summer
In this blog post and associated Quick Guide, I will explain how to freeze, dehydrate, acidify, ferment, cure, and use oil and sugar for wise food storage at the end of summer. Each technique is safe and easy, perfect for beginners to stock kitchen cupboards and refrigerators with foods in jars and freezer baggies.
The best way to source your ingredients will be visiting a local farm stand or farmers market (there’s a downloadable market planner in the resource library). Here you will find sustainably grown vegetables and fruits in bulk quantities. For many of these techniques, I purchase seconds, just over ripened or imperfect fruits and vegetables. They are just as nutritious and tasty, and often purchased at half the price.
Of course, most years I am preserving from my market garden, but I’m taking the year off and letting my friend Shawna at Oak Hart Farm grow my food for me. I’m pretty sure that is where my tomatoes are coming from!
Downloadable Quick Guide with Techniques and Recipes
This post highlights the Quick Guide to End of Summer Food Preservation that includes 6 recipes using each of the basic techniques described in this blog post. We’re a learn-by-doing resource. The best way to practice wise food storage is to begin preserving food at the end of summer when it is so plentiful and affordable using these safe and simple techniques. Get the eBook and use the recipes!
Wise Food Storage: Freezing
Wise food storage with end of summer food preservation techniques should begin with freezing. Why? Because freezing is the easiest and safest way to preserve summer’s harvest. Chop, bag, and freeze. That’s it.
Now, you can get a little more nuanced in your freezing endeavors. You can hot water blanch fruits and vegetables before freezing. Adding this additional step makes most preserves more table-ready, pleasing to the eye, and less likely to have freezer burn.
Wise Food Storage: Dehydration
Wise food storage with end of summer food preservation can be done with another easy method, dehydration. Drying out fruits, vegetables and herbs is a safe and easy way to have plenty of tasty ingredients for winter meals. Dehydration can be done by air drying (as with herbs), oven drying (as with cherry tomatoes), or by using a dehydrator (which is great for fruit).
For beginners, I recommend drying herbs for winter use by simply creating bunches of herbs, tied at their stems with string or a rubber band, and hanging them in a well ventilated, dry place out of direct sunlight. When the herbs are brittle, hold them over a piece of potato sackcloth of paper towels, and crushing them with your hands. Once you have your pile of herbs, run your fingers through them looking for thick stems to remove. I place my dried herbs in recycled herb jars, but you can also purchase new herb jars.
The most popular vegetable to preserve with dehydration has to be kale and the ubiquitous kale chips. Here’s the recipe I use, although I will admit the kale chips rarely make it to winter recipes. We just love snacking on them all the time.
For oven drying techniques, I recommend starting with cherry tomatoes and making a version of sundried tomatoes. You simply cut the tomatoes in half and lay cut side up on a cookie sheet. Then, lightly drizzle with olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper as you like. The full recipe is in the eBook.
Wise Food Storage: Vinegar and Acidification
Acidifying vegetables with vinegar is called pickling. This is a safe method of food preservation that can either make refrigerator pickles or use hot water bath canning methods for longterm shelf storage. we’re not going to discuss hot water bath canning in this wise food storage post because it is neither simple or easy. You can learn about here.
Acidification with vinegar kills all harmful bacteria and is a very safe method for end of summer food preservation.
Refrigerator pickles using fresh, end of summer produce like cucumbers, okra, green tomatoes, tomatillos, and onions is easy. Clean your mason jars and pack them with your just-washed veggies that may be whole or chopped. Add flavor with ingredients like garlic, cumin, celery seed, pickle mix, dill, etc. Cover the ingredients with a brine that is 1/2 cider vinegar and 1/2 water. Some like to add sugar to this brine. If I do it is 1 tablespoon per quart, but I often do not. Place in the fridge and eat after one week. They’ll last up to 3 months.
Wise Food Storage: Salt Fermentation and Curing
Using salt to preserve food is a safe and ageless process of wise food storage. For fruits and vegetables, we ferment using salt by making a brine that is roughly 2 tablespoons per quart of water. For larger batches of ferments make a brine that is 1 cup salt to 1 gallon of water. You want your ferment to taste like the ocean, more or less. First-time fermenters often over salt.
I have a few beginner fermentation recipes on the blog. Use them to learn, and the experiment from there.
Meats can be cured using salt. This tasty salt-and-time-based preservation method creates foods essential to the seasonal eater who is an omnivore. Pancetta, prosciutto, pepperoni, soppressata, and chorizo are just a few of the readily available salt-cured meats. This is not a process I have mastered so I will leave you with a few other resources to learn more:
For the ambitious, Salami Recipes
Wise Food Storage: Oil
Preserving the end of summer harvests in oil is a bit riskier than any of the other smart food storage methods we’ve discussed so far. Basically, you submerge your food item in something like a very good olive oil. The end product gives you both the preserved food item, like sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, and the flavored oil to use in cooking and salad dressings. The risk is that bacteria can grow in the oil if air bubbles are left in the container. I only refrigerate the foods I preserve in olive oil and I use them within 3 months.
Some of the best foods for preserving with olive oil are herbs, dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and sweet and hot peppers. Making pestos with fresh herbs and wild edibles is a way of preserving foods in oil. Preserving foods in oil releases their flavors in a highly aromatic way. This method is a favorite!
We’ll be preserving dried tomatoes in olive oil in the Quick Guide. Be sure to download it your copy to learn more!
Wise Food Storage: Sugar
Have you ever eaten a piece of crystallized sugar? Candied orange peel? These are foods preserved in sugar.
I don’t eat sugar these days due to inflammation issues, so I’m not offering any recipes in the Quick Guide. Here are a couple of links to good recipes that use sugar as a good food storage method:
Wise Food Storage: Alcohol
Fruit and herbs preserved in alcohol are often referred to as cordials and it is one of the most coveted food preservation techniques at Stony Ridge Farm. This can be as simple as packing fresh peaches in a jar and covering with brandy for at least a month, or as complicated as making an herbal gin (which is on my bucket list!).
If you use spirits, like vodka, to preserve your fruits, then it is very safe and can be left at room temperature. If you use something with a lower alcohol content, like wine, then you refrigerate both during the preservation process and after the cordial is decanted.
There are cordial recipes on the blog:
My Pineapple and Sage Tequila Recipe is in the Resource Library as a free downloadable recipe card.
Wise Food Storage: Additional Resources
This is where we get to the disclaimer.
Food preservation needs to be done with safety in mind. When food is stored for months it can go bad, especially if basic food hygiene and best preservation practices are not followed. Use these additional resources to learn the best ways to preserve the end of summer harvests, or surplus foods any time of year! The more care you take in processing your foods, the safer and more nutritious your end product will be.
These resources will offer tested recipes and methods. Using tested recipes ensures best practices for food safety when canning and preserving.
These are my favorite food preservation books
They are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using them, you support the farm. Thanks!
Helpful tools for food preservation
Downloadable Quick Guide with Techniques and Recipes
This post highlights the Quick Guide to End of Summer Food Preservation that includes 6 recipes using each of the basic techniques described in this blog post. We’re a learn-by-doing resource. The best way to practice wise food storage is to begin preserving food at the end of summer when it is so plentiful and affordable. download the eBook and get started with your wise food preservation today!
For even more food preservation tips and ricks, check out the free Seasonal Living Resources Library!
Followers of the blog know about the Seasonal Living Resource Library, mostly because that is how most of our members find us. It’s a free collection of printables and downloadables to help you create your seasonal life. The items in the library include garden guides, recipes, canning labels, meal plans and guided meditations.
Simply use this sign up form to get the password to the library. then sign in and begin downloading. You’ll also receive my weekly emails. They come with a one-click unsubscribe. So, don’t worry if the newsletters aren’t for you! You’ll still have the password to the library and can download its contents anytime you are wanting to create your seasonal life!
Seasonal Living Resource Library
Become a pro in the kitchen and the garden!
Sign up for access to our exclusive Seasonal Living Resource Library. it's full of free downloads and printables to help you create your seasonal life. Supported by a weekly newsletter with original content for subscribers only!