Saving summer’s harvest for the winter months!

Saving summer’s harvest for the winter months!

By: Gary Garner Sr.

You have planted and grown to this point what I hope is a nice productive garden. If you are like most people I know, you now are harvesting more than you can use on a daily basis. The question now is what do you do with the excess? Do you throw it away, do you give it away, or do you save it to have at a later date?

I suggest you might share some with family and friends. However, I think most of what you can’t use immediately should be saved to use over the winter. There are two main ways to preserve your excess harvest. One method is by canning, the other method is freezing. Both methods have their place in saving what you have grown.

When I was a child, growing up on the farm, electricity was not available in rural areas. Most of our vegetables were preserved by canning. The vegetables were picked and prepared for canning one day and usually canned or “put by” as most people said, the next day. My mom would can hundreds of jars of vegetables all done on a wood stove, in the middle of a hot summer.

Today there are easier ways. Canning and freezing are much easier than they were when I was a boy.

We prefer canning or “putting by” tomatoes over freezing them, although sometimes we freeze small batches. My wife through the years has canned many tomatoes with a great deal of success. Quickly here is the method she uses.

She uses well ripened tomatoes. Wash them thoroughly and check closely for bad spots. If a tomato has a bad spot, she would not use that tomato. Place the tomatoes in a big pot with water covering the tomatoes. Turn the heat on high and as soon as you see the skin beginning to pucker or crack turn the stove off. Remove the tomatoes and run cold water over them so you can handle them. The skins should slide off easily. Cut out the stem and drop in a clean, sterilized jar. Using a table knife or something similar pack the tomatoes good and tight leaving a small headroom at the top. Drop in one teaspoon of salt and seal the jar with a lid and top. Place the jars in a canner and cover the jars with water. Bring to boil and give them a 15-to-20-minute water bath.

When you remove the jars from the canner check to make sure the lids are tight. They should all seal within a short period of time. If one doesn’t seal put it in the fridge and it will keep until you have use for it. Rarely does one not seal and properly canned they will keep for years. At present we are using some canned in 2019 and they look and taste like they just came off the vine.

Most other vegetables we freeze. Freezing is pretty simple and easily done in large or small batches. If you have excess vegetables that you would like to freeze this should help you with the process.

Prepare the vegetables as you would for a meal. Wash them well and again make sure they have no bad spots on them. Place them in water, with no seasoning, and bring them to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, take them off the stove and pour in ice water to cool. Once they are completely cool place in freezer containers and label for future use.

These are just a couple of ideas. You can find lots of ideas on You Tube or Pinterest or better yet use your imagination. That’s where the best ideas originate. Ball canning provides canning and preserving tips and recipes at!

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