A whopping 63% of food that’s thrown out in Canada could have been eaten, according to the National Zero Waste Council. This wastefulness can cost you upwards of $1,300 annually. Who wants to lose that?
With the rising cost of groceries and the unavailability of scrumptious fruit in the summer, it might be worth taking a look at how to preserve some of your favorites during the off-season. Here are 5 easy methods you’ll want to take a peek at:
Looking for something that’s quick, easy, and anyone can do? Freezing is the preservation option for you. You can freeze most fruits, veggies, and even herbs like chives. So long as they’re packaged properly, they can be kept for months in your freezer.
To properly freeze produce, you’ll want to make sure the food you’re freezing is at its peak and:
- Put it into a high-quality freezer bag
- Remove as much air as possible
- Date the bag so you know when it’s from
- Put the bag in the freezer
Note that not all fruits and veggies freeze the same. Soft fruits like berries might get damaged if the process isn’t done with care. Likewise, items that are prone to enzymatic browning, like apples, need to be treated before being frozen.
The dehydration process removes water from your fruits and veggies. This helps deter bacterial growth, allowing them to keep longer. But it’s not as simple as leaving an apple out on the counter until it dries up.
You’ll want to purposely dry them:
- Thoroughly wash, dry, and peel fruit (you can’t eat dehydrated peels)
- Slice fruit into 1/4 or 1/2 inch pieces (whichever you prefer)
- Spray fruit slices with lemon juice
- Follow the instructions on your dehydrator
The dehydration process can change the look, texture, and even taste of the original food item. However, you have more flexibility for storage options and tend to have a longer shelf-life.
Canning is another good way to store fruits and veggies for the winter. It’s a bit more involved than the first two methods and will take more of your time, but it’s still relatively simple.
You’ll need an actual recipe for the specific fruit or vegetable you’re trying to can to make sure you preserve it best. But, generally speaking, the process includes:
- Sterilizing your jars and lids
- Filling the jars with the prepared fruit or vegetable about 1-inch from the top
- Add boiling water
- Seal air-tight with lid
Once canned, most jars of canned fruit can be stored for up to a year in a cool, dark place.
Pickling is canning produce with a twist. While you might not be interested in pickling everything, cucumbers and asparagus are popular choices. However, pickelers get creative with peaches, grapes, and mushrooms, so it’s dealer’s choice.
The process to pickle food is very similar to the canning process, except you need to use a specific vinegar or brine solution. You might also add spices or herbs to achieve specific pickling products (for example, dill to create dill pickles).
5. Jams, jellies, and preserves
Jams, jellies, and preserves are typically used to preserve fruits, but pepper, mint, and even carrot jelly are all possible too. All of these preservation methods store fruit in sugar, helping it to keep longer. The key difference between these three is what part of the produce is used:
- Jam: crushed or finely chopped fruit
- Jelly: fruit juice with pectin
- Preserves: whole fruit
You’ll want to look up a recipe specific to the item you’re trying to preserve to ensure it’s done correctly. Not using the right mixture can result in the final product expiring before you’re expecting it to.