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Six Simple Ways to Preserve Summer’s Bounty

The end of Summer in North America is approaching fast, but gardeners, farmers, eaters, and cooks can preserve Summer’s bounty all year long. Fermentation, freezing, canning, and drying can all help prevent waste and make sure that families have an abundance of nutrients all year long.

Here are six simple food preservation techniques to help save the taste of Summer well into the Winter months.

1. Fermenting

The process of fermentation to preserve and store foods has been practiced for thousands of years. Fermenting involves a process called lacto-fermentation, which converts a food’s sugars into lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Beyond preservation advantages, lacto-fermentation increases the vitamin and enzyme levels and digestibility of the fermented food. Almost any vegetable can be fermented, either singularly or in a mix of many different kinds, along with herbs and spices.

According to Sandor Katz, a renowned expert on and promoter of fermented foods, “There is no fermented food that anyone with a dedication to learning couldn’t figure out how to make.” His Wild Fermentation Portal provides a range of fermentation resources and links including books, podcasts, and fermentation support forums.

2. Freezing

Freezing is one of the simplest, most convenient, and least time-consuming ways to preserve fresh produce. When foods are frozen, the extreme cold stops the growth of harmful microorganisms, reducing spoilage. Fruits and vegetables can be chopped and frozen at the peak of their ripeness, when they have optimal nutrient content, and utilized in dishes throughout the year. Fresh herbs can be preserved and frozen in vegetable oil to reduce browning and freezer burn that often occurs when herbs are frozen on their own. Paired with seasonal or frozen vegetables, it’s a simple way to have herbs readily available for Winter meals.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides an extensive list on how to freeze an array of foods, as well as general information concerning frozen food storage and thawing and preparing foods for serving.

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