I spend my summers surrounded by food. My table plays host to baskets overflowing with fresh fruit: cherries and apricots in spring, plums and peaches in summer, and pears and apples in autumn. I pack away herbs in salt, hang them to dry from my pot rack. I ferment my way through cases of cabbage, garlic scapes and cucumbers, and store the rest in booze or butter or honey or sugar.
And at the end of the summer and autumn, exhausted and worn, I open my cupboards to find them stacked high with good things to eat, and plentiful herbs to keep us well all winter long until the snow recedes, spring arrives again and earth springs forth in green. And then, my cycle renews itself and I return to the kitchen once more.
I visit our farmers market in July and August, arranging for cases of heirloom tomatoes to be delivered to my home. Their I skin, chop and process through what seems like mountains of them, so that come wintertime, I need only pull out a jar, pluck of its lid and pour it into soups, stews, or sauces.
- Tools I Use: Weck Canning Jars (because they’re beautiful, and they’re BPA-free), a Wide-Mouth Funnel, a Canning Jar Lifter, and a Fourth Burner (particularly helpful for small-batch canning).
Drying and Dehydrating
Once a week, my husband and I drive through winding mountain roads to arrive at our favorite farm. There we pick up our CSA box, and in the springtime, it brims with both culinary and medicinal herbs: bunches of chives, parsley, chive blossoms, rose geranium, angelica, lovage and horehound. These I tie up and dry, hanging them from my pot rack until they’re crisp. I also make plenty of green powder (see the recipe for green powder here) as a way to use up leftover leafy greens.
- Tools I Use: Weck Canning Jars (you can find them here.) for storing the herbs, kitchen twine for tying bundles of herbs and a dehydrator to dry herbs and vegetables (This is my dehydrator.)
For sturdy roots like beets, carrots, radishes and turnips as well as crucifers like kohlrabi and cabbage, I lean upon fermentation as my favorite way to preserve the harvest, and you can find many recipes for fermented foods in my cookbook – The Nourished Kitchen. And you can also find some of my favorite recipes for fermented foods here.
- Tools I Use: Weck Canning Jars (you can find them here.) for storing the ferments after they’ve completed fermenting, and a large capacity fermentation pot (like this one) which provides for safe fermentation of large batches or a small fermentation jar equipped with an airlock (like this one) which provides for safe fermentation of small batches.
Preserving in Fat and Oil
Both fat and oil act as a preservative, and preserving in both fat and oil is a particularly nice technique for preserving herbs, edible flowers and wild mushrooms. Storing herbs in oil infuses the oil with a deep resonant flavor of the herb you’re preserving, and it can be easily used as a finishing oil for a variety of foods including salads, braised meats or roasted veggies. Similarly, fresh herbs, alliums and mushrooms can be lightly sauteed, and then folded into fresh butter for long-term perservation, and you can get my technique for making wild mushroom butter here
- Tools I Use: I like to use flip-top bottles to store my herbal oils (you can find them here), and I store my compound butters in parchment paper in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks, or in the freezer for 6 months.
Preserving with Alcohol
Just like fat and oil act as a preservative, so does alcohol, and both fruit and spice are particularly well-suited to preserving in alcohol. Brandied Cherries are one of my favorite ways to store fresh fruit for use in the winter.
- Tools I Use: Weck Canning Jars (you can find them here.) for storing the preserved fruits, and that’s about all you need!