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Preserving The Summer's Bounty

On this Grandparents Day, it's only fit to honor your grandma by doing what she always did this time of year: preserving and canning.

Though these two words may sound intimidating to the younger generation, preserving the bounty of summer is really fairly simple. There are several ways you can do it, depending on what you're preserving, how much time you've got on your hands, and what kind of storage you have where you live. The simplest way is to freeze fruit and vegetables, and keep them in your freezer until you need them. Just keep in mind that not everything freezes well. Your best bet for freezing fruits are the berries. Washed and frozen, they can later be defrosted and used in pies, cobblers, muffins, smoothies, or most other things you can think of making with berries. When it comes to vegetables, most of them need to be blanched before being frozen, while most herbs can just be washed and minced before ending up in the freezer. One exception is basil, which oxidizes (turns black) quickly, so the best way to freeze it is to put chopped basil into an ice cube tray, fill it with water, and freeze. Once you have basil ice cubes, you can transfer them into a freezer bag or container.

You can also preserve herbs by drying them, and you can do the same with peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and a few other things. Still, most people think of canning whenever someone mentions preserving fruits and vegetables. You've probably seen pressure canners, sieves, strainers, and all sorts of strange equipment and wondered how to use them. If you're a complete beginner, I suggest you take a look at some basics here, here or here. Whatever you do, start small. You can always preserve more jars of one thing or another next year, when you feel more comfortable.

Got any unusual tips for preserving and canning? Share them in the comments below... and enjoy your fall.

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