We hate to be the bearers of bad news but we’re inching closer to fall and (ack!) winter so it’s time to start thinking about harvesting all those delicious fruits and veggies grown in your own backyard or from the market so even in the below zero temps, you can lovingly look back on summer.
Our kitchen team have been busy over the summer months canning up our favourite pickles, jams and sauces like Peach Whiskey BBQ Sauce, Grilled Corn and Tomato Salsa, Raspberry Peach Jam and Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. If canning and preserving isn’t really your “thing”, pop into the shop to stock up on our favourite summer flavours and let us do the work for you. If you’re more of a DIYer, we’ve got you covered; today we’re helping you get prepared to preserve the season’s bounty with tips for how to make the most of all that homegrown produce.
Right now is the best time to stock up on peak ripeness, nutrient-packed produce from Ontario and Quebec and get to preserving for the long cold months, because if there is one thing we know, it’s that there is nothing quite like a taste of July peaches in the middle of a frigid February. Here are some of the most helpful tips from around the web to make easy work of harvest season.
Tips for Preserving the Season
My favourite tips for canning peaches and other stone fruit comes from Aimee at Simple Bites, “When buying peaches to can, choose freestone peaches such as Glohaven, Loring, Sun High. Redhaven is my all-time favorite for the ease with which they relinquish their stony hearts and for their reluctance to turn brown when cut and exposed to air.” If the idea of popping into a can of summer peaches in the dead of winter sounds appealing to you, head to Simple Bites to get the full tutorial.
We also love to peel our peaches, cut into bite sized pieces or slices and freeze for smoothies, baked goods, like these Peach Crumb Bars, and sauces.
There are so many ways to preserve and enjoy tomatoes through winter. At the shop, we make a luscious tomato jam that adds some rich umami flavour to cheese and charcuterie boards, crostini or served with eggs. DIY’n’Crafts has the ultimate guide to preserving tomatoes in EIGHT different ways. From a simple puree and freeze, to homemade tomato paste, these methods will have your kitchen packed with summery tomato flavour through the winter.
One of the easiest ways to preserve your summer berries is to give them a good wash and pat dry, make sure your strawberries are hulled and picked through for stems or unripe berries, place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze flat until the berries are solid. Scoop into a tupperware or freezer bag until you’re ready to use.
If you’d prefer to not take up any fridge or freezer space, our favourite ways to preserve summer berries are in jams, like this Strawberry Lime Vanilla Jam or Blueberry Honey Lavender Jam, or by dehydrating them for granolas and salads through the winter.
Squash & Pumpkin
Summer squash like patty pan, zucchini or crookneck are easily frozen for soups, stews and baked goods through the winter. Head to The Spruce Eats for the full tutorial on freezing these delicate fruits. There are plenty of ways to add frozen zucchini and summer squash to your winter meals.
Winter squash is heartier and holds up better for canning and preserving and can also be left whole, unpeeled, at room temperature for up to 3 months. We love tucking into a jar of pickled squash or popping a can of squash puree for a flavourful soup or stew in the middle of winter. If you’ve got plenty of freezer space, we also love roasting whole squash, pureeing the flesh, cooling it completely and then scooping it into freezer bags that we stack flat for optimal space saving. The roasted puree adds bold flavour to muffins, loaves and cookies.
Herbs & Greens
Delicate greens and herbs are in abundance right now but it can be hard to use them as quickly as they’re growing. The Kitchn offers some great tips for preserving all those flavourful greens before they perish, like how to air or oven dry your herbs for later use, or chopping/pureeing them in a little oil or water and freezing in ice cube trays. We love the latter option as it makes quick work of flavour building for meals. Just make sure you combine herbs that you’ll want to enjoy together, like rosemary and oregano or mint and basil.
If you want to preserve lettuce greens like arugula or spinach, simply blanch them in boiling water for two minutes, plunge in an ice bath, pat excess moisture off, and place in an airtight freezer-safe container. Frozen arugula and spinach work great in stir-fries, on pizza or smoothies, or even baked into muffins or loaves.