Is it really possible to preserve your garden’s harvest without canning? You bet it is!
When it comes to preserving a garden harvest, there are many options besides traditional canning jars. In fact, it’s actually quite easy to preserve an entire harvest without ever having to can at all. Even better, many of the methods require far less time, effort, and in many cases, cost!
Although canning can be an economical and space-saving method for storing food, it has a few drawbacks. First, there is the cost of the equipment.
Purchasing a pressure canner and/or a large water bath pot can be expensive. Not to mention stocking up on the jars and lids. And with all of the recent shortages, they can often be hard to find – and costly too!
Why Canning Isn’t Always The Best Option…
For those reasons and more, we actually preserve a lot of our yearly harvest without canning. Not only is it often less costly and time-consuming, in many cases, we prefer the taste of the stored food.
In fact, for us, there are just some foods that simply taste better when preserved by methods other than canning. Two perfect examples are sweet corn and green beans.
It’s not that either taste bad when canned, but freezing certainly captures their freshness better for us. With all of that and more in mind, here is a look at how to preserve a garden harvest – without ever having to can at all!
How To Preserve Without Canning – 4 Simple Methods That Work!
Freezing is an excellent choice for storing food, especially when it comes to vegetables, soups, sauces and salsa. Yes, it does require a bit of energy via electricity, but it is an efficient way to process food. And even better, extremely safe!
One thing is for sure though, to get the most from your freezing efforts, a food saver is a must! Not only does it preserve food fast and at the highest level of freshness, it’s also an incredible space saver as well. Product Link : Food Saver
When freezing garden produce, it is a huge plus to save food how you will use it most later. For us, that means freezing both individual and family size vegetable packets.
The larger sizes are perfect when preparing a big family meal. But the small packets are even better, because they are just the right size for a meal for two. And that means little waste. Is there anything better than stretching your hard-earned harvest even more?!
Add A Little Variety – How To Preserve Without Canning
But, to really get the most of your freezing efforts, you can freeze more than just individual packets of vegetables.
Case in point, ready-made vegetable stir fry packets. We mix in onions, peppers, sweet peppers and sugar snap peas to make homemade instant stir-fry packets.
We also make frozen packets of frozen vegetables for roasts, casseroles and more. They are simply wonderful for creating quick and tasty meals on a moment’s notice. And, you don’t have to open multiple bags from the freezer.
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Freezing is also perfect for large harvests of tomatoes and peppers. Sometimes, when the harvest gets too big too quickly, freezing whole or cut veggies can help process them in quick fashion. (See: 5 Great Ways To Freeze Tomatoes)
#2 Creating Freezer Bricks – The Ultimate Way To Preserve Garden Fresh Food
When it comes to freezing a garden harvest, freezer bricks are our absolute favorite! They are perfect for having sauces, soups and even salsa at the ready, and conserving on space.
We start by making our homemade pasta and spaghetti sauce, soups and various salsas. After they cool, we then quick-freeze them into temporary one-quart plastic rectangular slim-style containers. (See : Homemade Freezer Spaghetti Sauce)
Next, we pop them out of the container, and seal them with the food saver. The ultra-thin “bricks” store easily and efficiently.
The bricks are perfect for super-fast meals anytime. They can be thawed on the stove and be ready in 15 minutes or less. The pasta sauce bricks can go into a slow cooker in the morning and be ready when you get home.
The best part, once they are in the food saver bags, they store easily and efficiently in the freezer.
#3 Drying – Preserving A Garden Without Canning
In addition to freezing, we also preserve quite a bit of our harvest by drying
With many crops, such as garlic, potatoes and onions, we simply dry, cure and store. It doesn’t get any easier than that! Beyond the drying process, all that is needed is a cool, dark spot – and the produce can keep over the entire winter.
Late each summer, we use our oven to dry and grind down hundreds of our peppers to make homemade hot pepper flakes, pepper powder and more.
We then blend them with additional spices to create even more -such as taco seasonings, chili powder, and even popcorn seasoning. See : How To Make Hot Pepper Flakes
Finally, there is dehydrating. The nice thing about dehydrating is that you don’t have to invest in a fancy dehydrator if you don’t want to. Much like above with the peppers, you can use your oven on low temp to dry and store many foods.
Once again, the food saver can come in handy to store dried vegetables. Simply keep them in a cool, dry location to extend their shelf life through the long winter months. They can also be stored in the freezer as well.
One of our favorites when dehydrating are sun-dried tomatoes! We live in too humid of a climate to actually sun-dry them, but our dehydrator works wonders in making these delicious treats from fresh tomatoes. They can then be frozen, sealed dry, or placed in oil in a jar to be kept up to a year.
As you can see, there all kinds of ways to preserve your garden without ever having to can. Here is to a big harvest, and to saving that food for many months to come! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
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