Guide to Fall Food Preservation

Extend the life of your fall harvest with these basic guidelines and easy recipes, and enjoy homegrown flavor and nutrition all year long.

  • Ferment cabbage to enjoy fresh, health-promoting throughout winter.
    Photo by iStock
  • Keep must-have tomatoes in stock with a number of preservation methods.
    Photo by iStock
  • Freeze, can or dry versatile berries to make the most of your harvest throughout the year.
    Photo by iStock
  • Master simple home preservation with these tips, techinques and reicpes.
    Photo by iStock
  • Add fresh green beans to any meal when you preserve your homegrown varieties.
    Photo by iStock
  • Use all parts of the zucchini plant when you cook with the water and serve fried zucchini flowers as a tasty side dish.
    Photo by iStock

A mastery of simple home preservation techniques is key to delicious, healthy eating and efficient cooking. The home preserver controls the quality of the foods she puts up and, by having fine preserved foods on hand, increases her ability to make tasty meals quickly. Building your own stock of flavorful preserved foods is easier than you might think and well worth the time to learn the simple arts of food preservation.

After all, if you have a jar of July’s homemade marinated peppers in the pantry, you’re halfway done making dinner in January. Preserving decreases our carbon footprints, keeps dollars local year-round, plus it just feels good to be self-sufficient.

But how do we incorporate preserving into our already-full cooking repertoire? There’s nothing wrong with marathon canning, but I recommend putting up small batches of foods while you’re cooking them fresh for dinner anyway. It’s just one more burner on the stove. The most diverse pantries are built one delicious pint at a time.

The key to kitchen efficiency is to build a pantry that reflects your taste and region. If you buy canned tomatoes often, give tomato preserving a whirl—every time you make a dish with those home-canned tomatoes, it will be qualitatively better. Don’t bother canning stuff that’s imported or you don’t love to eat. Additionally, the learning curve for preserving is a lot more tolerable when you are putting up bountiful foods you crave.

When building your pantry, consider the byproducts of the foods you preserve. These are often wasted flavor opportunities. Learning to use the whole food not only cuts down on waste but also bumps up the flavor of the foods you make with them. The bones of poultry, fish and red meat, and the peels and stems of vegetables become stock. Citrus rinds can be zested and frozen to flavor dishes, and the tops of many vegetables that are usually discarded (such as carrots and radishes) are delicious in their own right. Even the marinade, pickle juice or fruit syrup at the bottom of the jar can have a role in your kitchen.

What to Can, What to Freeze, and How to Use It

Use this handy guide to put up all that autumn has to offer. To learn more about the various methods of food preservation mentioned here, and to try a heap of tasty recipes, visit our preservation collection page.

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