Preserving the Harvest

It’s August in New Hampshire, which means peak season for our growers. What better time to learn about local farmers and growers than during August when the crops are bountiful (it’s no accident that NH Eat Local month is in August!). The abundance flowing from our farms and backyard gardens can be overwhelming. What shall you do with that bumper crop of zucchini? (Please, do not leave it in your neighbor’s unlocked car!)

Though it may seem intimidating, preserving the harvest is a fantastic way to enjoy the season’s bounty through the autumn and winter months — extending the life of the nutrient dense foods that we enjoy fresh during the summer. One method of preserving the harvest is to ferment your fresh veggies – read a previous post on fermenting foods.

I-Can-Organic-T-Shirt-8202Canning, a method quite different from fermenting, preserves foods through heat processing and sealing them in airtight containers, and can be done with any number of foods, typically fruits and vegetables. Imagine enjoying homemade blueberry jam or zucchini dill pickles on a cold December day, that were made from fresh, local produce on a warm August evening – Delicious! And, really, who doesn’t want to be briefly transported back to August in the middle of a New Hampshire winter?

In researching this piece, I discovered that there is actually a National Center for Home Food Preservation (who knew?). There is a vast amount of information on this website that covers canning as well as other food preservation methods. There is also an easy to navigate, user-friendly website that Ball canning jars hosts that includes videos for those of us who like to watch someone else do it first. Of course, there are numerous books available. Check out the Keene Public Library offerings or stop into The Toadstool Bookshop to check out the myriad books on this topic. When I asked around for recommendations on books, I find that everyone has their own favorite (which did not help me cull down the selection at all!).

Since I have no solid book recommendations, I’ll offer you this. If you’ve always wanted to try preserving through canning, but didn’t know where to start, join Monadnock Food Co-op for a free Canning and Food Preservation Workshop on Tuesday, August 18 from 6:30pm – 8pm. Sandy Hamm and Billie Stark will conduct this workshop — together they make things seem completely doable and simple (so much so that I might even try it myself!). Visit our calendar for more information and to register.