6 Simple Ways To Preserve Zucchini

6 Simple Ways To Preserve Zucchini

Zucchini is, without a doubt, one of the easiest vegetables you can grow. Unfortunately, with that ease comes a question – what in the world are you going to do with all of the zucchini you harvest?

Zucchini is the plant that keeps on giving, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a bountiful harvest. If you just can’t figure out what to do with it, here are some methods of preserving zucchini that may help you out. 

Freezing Zucchini

Freezing is one of the most popular methods of preserving zucchini. Not only can frozen zucchini be used in your favorite meals, but it can also be used in baking (zucchini bread, anyone?). 

You can freeze zucchini in several ways. One of the easiest ways to is to blanch and freeze zucchini halves. After they’ve been thawed, zucchini halves can be used for stuffing or baking. All you will need to do is let them thaw and then apply your favorite filling!

Another way you can preserve zucchini is to slice or dice it up before freezing. Zucchini that has been sliced in this way can be used for soups, stir fries, sautees, and even casseroles. Just keep them frozen until you’re ready to use them to prevent them from becoming a sloppy mess. 

You can also freeze shredded zucchini, which does not need to be blanched beforehand and will hold up remarkably well in frittatas, baked goods, and other recipes. You can even make a tasty, nutritious zucchini risotto! Just make sure you drain off the excess liquid after thawing the shredded pieces. 

Zucchini can be frozen as ready-made zoodles, too. Zucchini noodles are delicious and nutritious alternatives to your favorite pasta. You can use them frozen but need to avoid overcooking them. 

Finally, zucchini puree is an option to consider. It is the perfect addition to soups, smoothies, sauces, and baked goods. It can be used in any baked goods recipe that calls for it, too!

Dehydrating Zucchini

Dehydrated zucchini takes up minimal space and is a great alternative for preserving zucchini if you don’t have a lot of freezer space. When dehydrated, four pounds of zucchini (or one large zucchini, in other words) will only take up one pint jar. 

To dehydrate zucchini, slice it into thin rings. You can choose to leave the skin on or to peel it – the choice is yours. Place the rings on the racks of your dehydrator and process them for four hours, or until they are crisp and brown. 

After zucchini has been dehydrated and stored, it will last for many months. You can add dehydrated zucchini to boiling water when you add pasta, as this will rehydrate the zucchini and make for a delicious sauce. 

Pickled Zucchini 

Pickled zucchini can be stored on its own, or you can add some other vegetables like sweet bell peppers and onions for a delicious relish. Zucchini relish is sweet yet tart, possessing a lovely tang that will really spruce up your typical sandwiches, burgers, and salads. 

For four pints of zucchini relish, or pickled zucchini, you will need about four cups of zucchini, two cups of peppers, and two cups of onions. You will also need 3 ½ cups sugar, ¼ cup pickling salt, 1 Tbsp celery, 2 tsp mustard, and two cups of apple cider vinegar. 

Begin by chopping your vegetables. Sprinkle salt over the vegetable and let them stand for two hours. After two hours have passed, drain them and rinse them well. Add your spices, vinegar, and sugar to a large pot, bringing it to a low simmer before you add your vegetables. Stir and then let the mixture simmer for another ten minutes. 

Once everything is combined, you can choose to process your relish in a water bath canner or to put it in the refrigerator. If you can your jars, you will want to process them for ten minutes and allow them to cool for at least 12 hours before storing them. 

Zucchini Pickles

Not to be confused with pickled zucchini, making zucchini pickles is a fantastic method of food preservation. All you will need is some onions, turmeric, and a few other species for a delicious brine. 

To make zucchini pickles, start by washing your zucchini, trimming, and discarding the blossoms. Cut the zucchini into ¼ inch slices and place them in a large bowl before salting them. Let them sit for two hours before draining and rinsing the slices with water. This will help remove excess liquid. 

While you are waiting for your zucchini slices to dry out, you can prepare your canning equipment. You will want to wash and boil your jars, keeping both the jars and lids warm until you have your ingredients ready. 

Your brine will consist of three cups of apple cider vinegar, two cups of cane sugar, and ⅓ cup canning salt. You will also add ground mustard, turmeric, celery seed, and black peppercorn, to taste. 

Combine all of your brine ingredients in a large pot. Heat to a boil. Add your zucchini and bring the pot back up to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. After the mixture is thoroughly heated, ladle your zucchini and brine into hot jars. Leave about ½ inch of headspace. 

Center your lids on the jars and screw them on tightly. Place the jars in a water bath canner and adjust the water level once the jars are inside to make sure the water is two inches above the jars. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Process the pickles for ten minutes. 

Let the jars cool, then label and date them before storing. The cooling process should take about 24 hours. 

Cellaring Zucchini

If you have a root cellar, you may be able to store zucchini without doing anything to it at all. To do this, you will need young, unblemished zucchinis. They should be wrapped in tissue paper or layered in shallow containers surrounded by straw. This will increase their humidity. Store the fruits in a cool basement or root cellar. You can put them in containers such as plastic garbage cans or storage bins to do this. 

Once you put the zucchini in a container, you will want to cover them with at least one foot of insulating material, like straw. Each layer of zucchini should be separated by straw to reduce moisture, too. When stored in this way, zucchini will last for several weeks at a time. 

Salted Zucchini

You can store brined zucchini without having to do too much at all. To do this, select zucchini that are small and ripe. Wash them and place them in a canning jar before covering them with a 10% brine. Make sure there’s at least an inch of headspace.

How do you make a 10% brine, you might ask? It’s simple. All you need to do is stir six tablespoons of pickling salt into a quart of water until it has completely dissolved. 

Next, use a small plate to cover the vegetables and keep them submerged. Place the container or a tray and store it at  65 degrees for up to four weeks. You should then transfer it to a collocation, like a refrigerator. Check it at least once a week if white scum appears, remove it, as it can create off flavors.  You will want to keep your vegetables completely submerged during this process. 

Most salted zucchini can be stored for six months. You will just need to soak them in cold water for twelve hours before using – then you can use them in any recipe calling for fresh zucchini. 

Can I Can Zucchini?

One of the only ways that preserving zucchini cannot be done is by canning. You cannot can summer squashes because they become too soft during the canning process, which leads to inconsistent heat distribution that renders the finished product unsafe. 

Even if you have a pressure canner, it’s not recommended that you can zucchini or any other summer squash. Instead, stick to one of these popular methods of preserving zucchini – with so many methods to choose from, you really shouldn’t feel the need to try an unsafe canning recipe!

6 Ways To Preserve Potatoes

6 Ways To Preserve Potatoes

Whether you grow your own potatoes or just got a great deal on a bumper crop at the supermarket, preserving potatoes is a great way to help them last long into the winter months. Considered one of the best vegetables for root cellar storage, potatoes have the ability to last for months without you having to do anything at all. 

Potatoes are the quintessential late summer crop, offering a ton of nutritional benefits and a lot of versatility in the kitchen, too. If you aren’t already preserving potatoes, you’re missing out!

However, there are some other methods of preserving potatoes that you need to know about, too. 

Storing Potatoes in a Root Cellar

Potatoes can easily be stored in a root cellar (or even, in some cases, a basement). It’s the most common method of preserving potatoes because it involves the least amount of labor. 

It can be difficult to store potatoes that are harvested in the early summer, but those that are harvested in the fall can easily be stored in a root cellar. Keep them in a cold – but not freezing – environment and you will find that they last for months. 

Cure your potatoes by placing them in moderate temperatures and dry conditions for about two weeks. Then, you can move them into the cellar. It’s recommended that you store your potatoes in shallow layers so you can watch for signs of rot. Keep them dark, too, as too much light causes them to sprout. You may have good results covering your potatoes in straw to protect and insulate them, too. 

Preserving Potatoes by Canning

Preserving your potatoes by canning them is one of the most popular methods of preserving potatoes. To do this, you will want to can them in a pressure canner. You cannot use a water bath canner, as this won’t reach high enough temperatures to kill soil-borne bacteria. 

About 20 lbs of potatoes will yield you a pressure canner full of tubers – usually about 20 pints if you have a double stacking unit. Make sure you wash the potatoes carefully and then peel them. There’s some debate about whether you actually have to peel before canning, but it’s best if you do to remove all the dirt and bacteria hiding in the nooks and crannies of the potatoes. 

Chop the potatoes into pieces and then parboil them for a few minutes. Drain the water and rinse the potatoes before spooning them into clean mason jars. Fill them with hot water, leaving about an inch of headspace. Wipe the rims and then add clean lids and rings. 

Pressure can your potatoes for about 40 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure, or according to the instructions that come with your canner. You may need to adjust for altitude. 

Freezing Cubed Potatoes

There are a few different ways you can freeze your potatoes, but the easiest way is to just freeze them cubed. Freezing is a good method of preserving potatoes if you had a huge potato harvest but either don’t want to bust out the pressure canner or if you have potatoes with some brown spots that won’t hold up in regular cold storage.

Start by selecting potatoes directly from the garden. Peel and wash them, cutting out any bad spots. Cut them up into uniform cubes.  Then, blanch your potatoes for a few minutes (usually about three to five minutes, depending on the size of the potato). 

After blanching, dunk the potato in an ice bath for ten minutes. Then drain and rinse them before packing them into containers. You can use any kind of container you’d like, but make sure they are freezer-safe. Leave about half an inch of headspace to allow room for expansion. Then, seal and freeze. Frozen potatoes usually last about 12 months. The resulting potatoes will be great for soups, stews, and even roasts. 

Frozen French Fries, Hash Browns, and Tater Tots 

If you’re sick of buying storebought french fries at the grocery store, you might want to think about freezing your own homemade fries, tater tots, and hash browns. It’s super easy to make your own and it doesn’t take as much time as you’d think, either. 

Russet potatoes work best for homemade frozen french fries, but you can really use any type that suits your fancy. You will need about two pounds, along with eight cups of water, a tablespoon of salt, and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. 

Start by peeling and cutting up the potatoes into half an inch-thick sticks. Then, blanch the potatoes for about two minutes. Dunk the blanched potato in an ice bath. 

Drain your chilled potatoes and lay them out in a single layer to dry. Toss the slices in oil and then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze overnight. The next day, transfer the frozen french fries to a freezer-safe container. That’s all there is to it!

You can also do this with your favorite tater tot or hashbrown recipe – the key point is to freeze your potatoes overnight on baking trays after prepping them. You don’t want to freeze immediately after cooking, because the individual pieces will become a big, clumpy mess in the container.

Dehydrating Potatoes

For those of us who love those tasty dehydrated potato snack sticks at the store, this idea is for you! You can also preserve potatoes to be used in scalloped or au gratin potatoes. To do this, begin by washing your potatoes and cutting out any blemishes. You don’t have to peel, but you can. 

Then, slice your potatoes to about an eighth of an inch thick. You can also choose to shred the potatoes, depending on how you intend to use them later on. As soon as you slice them, put them in a bowl of water to prevent browning.

Blanch your potatoes for four to six minutes. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and then place them on a dehydrator tray so that they do not overlap. Dry for 135 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 10 hours (often, eight is all it takes). 

Fermented Potatoes

Yes, you can even ferment potatoes! This can actually be done with any type of potato or sweet potato. Potatoes can be fermented raw or even after they’ve been cooked. The best way to do this is by using a basic brine or even sauerkraut juice. 

Lacto Fermented potatoes will offer you plenty of probiotics and prebiotics. You can do this to raw potatoes, eliminating a ton of prep work on your part and also making it possible for you to consume zero net carbs (but plenty of fiber). 

Use filtered or distilled water to ferment your potatoes – tap water can contain fluoride or chlorine, which blocks fermentation. Do not use iodized salt when making the brine solution, either. 

Simply place four cups of water into a jar, followed by your desired level of salt (often just a tablespoon). Cut up the potatoes, unpeeled, into half-inch cubes. Put them in the water. Cover the jar with a paper towel or piece of cheesecloth. 

Over the next 48 hours, the water will become cloudy and you’ll see small bubbles – this indicates that fermentation has begun. If you notice any white film on the top, simply remove it and discard it. They should be eaten up within a week. 

Try Various Methods of Preserving Potatoes

Depending on how big your potato harvest is, you may want to try all or just a few of these handy recipes. There’s plenty to do with your potatoes – you can even freeze the leftovers of your favorite recipe to be reheated later. Potatoes freeze and reheat remarkably well. 

Whatever you do, try a few – after all, you don’t want to get bored eating canned or dehydrated potatoes all the time!

Preserving Meat with Salt

Preserving Meat with Salt

If you raise your own animals for meat, you likely know how frustrating it can be to not have enough space to store the finished product. Sure, you can always stash packages of meat in your freezer – but eventually, you’re going to run out of room! 

Plus, if you don’t have electricity – or are prone to frequent power outages – you may not feel comfortable storing hundreds of pounds of meat in the freezer. 

Luckily, there are alternatives that you can turn to in order to keep your meat fresh and ready to eat. Preserving meat with salt is one of the best (and most often overlooked) methods of food preservation out there. Not only that, but it’s also easy to do! Here are the basics.

Why Preserving Meat with Salt is the Way to Go

Salt preservation is one of the most classic and time-honored methods of preserving meat. There are several processes, too, any of which can work when used in your own kitchen. Jerky, for example, is a method of drying meat that requires you to salt it heavily before the dehydration process. Ham and corned beef also rely on salt in order to cure the final product. 

Salt works well at preserving meat because as salt levels increase in a solution, the ability for microorganisms like bacteria and fungi to grow, thrive, and survive decreases rapidly. When you include the recommended amounts of salt for pickling and dry salting your food, microbial growth simply doesn’t happen. 

Salt preservation can guard against all kinds of bacteria, including Clostridium botulinum, the chief organisms responsible for the fatal illness known as botulism. 

Salt also adds flavor. Sodium chloride, or your typical table salt, is usually used as a primary ingredient to remove bacteria. Other salts are also used for meat preservation, too, including nitrates and nitrites. salts. These help to prevent the oxidation of fat in the meat when it is cured. 

Preserving Meat With Salt: 3 Ways

There are three main ways you can preserve meat with salt: you can make a brine solution, you can use a smoker, or you can make rubbing salts. Here’s how to do it. 

Brine Solution Method of Preserving Meat

Start by preparing a 14% solution of pickling salt – you can add sugar for flavor if you’d like, but stick with brown sugar and don’t add more than 3% to your overall ratios. 

You can use any type of meat you’d like, but lean cuts are preferred. Start by slicing it into strips about half an inch thick or less. Then, soak them in your brine for five minutes. You do not need to discard the brine solution. 

Put your strips of meat into a colander and let the excess brine drain off. Then, hang your meat strips on a line made out of twine. You can use clips to do this or fashion your own homemade hooks. This line should be located outside in a dry, sunny area. Plan ahead for your drying, as you won’t want wet weather to get in your way. 

You will need to cure your meat when humidity is less than 30%. Consider putting a cage around the meat to keep insects and hungry animals away!

Using a Smoker

If you read the last method and thought, “Great. That won’t work – my humidity never drops below 30% where I live!” you’re not alone. Luckily, you can use a smoker to dry and preserve your meat instead. 

To do this, follow the same steps as you would above – but stop before you get to the hanging stage. Instead, place the meat on the grilling surface of the smoker. Cure the meat for 24 hours at 100 to 120 degrees (it may take less time, depending on the moisture content and thickness of your meat slices). 

Dry Curing Meat with Rubbing Salts

If you have dense cuts like shoulders, hams, and roasts that you want to cure, preserving meat with rubbing salts is a great way to go. You can use just plain old pickling salt or you can add enhancing spices like mustard, sage, or basil. Just rub the spices on first and then apply the salt. 

You will need to apply salt at a ratio of 1 ½ cups of salt per pound of meat. Half will be rubbed onto the meat at the beginning, and the other half will go on at the end. After rubbing the first ¾ cup of salt onto the meat, let it hang in a room that sits at temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees. About five days later, you can rub the rest of the salt on. 

This is a long, time-consuming process  – you will need to budget for five days of drying time for every inch of meat. If the meat has bones, you’ll need to give yourself even more time – usually about seven days per inch.

Your Brine

No matter which of the three methods above you select, you will need to have a brine solution (with the exception of the latter, in which you can usually get by with just a salt rub – although a brine can also be used). 

To make your brine, you will usually need to mix about half a pound of salt with a quarter cup of sugar. This will then be added to a quart and a half of water. You can add herbs or spices, too, and remember that you will need to add your nitrite, too. You can use pink salt or you can use celery, lettuce, or spinach extract (all of these naturally contain sodium nitrite). 

That’s all there is to it! In most cases, you can reuse the brine between batches of meat.

General Tips for Preserving Meat with Salt

When you’re engaging in any kind of meat preservation with salt, there are some general guidelines you should follow. 

First, you should always use lean meat. The best meat for salt preservation will be the best cuts overall. Try not to use overly fatty meats, as the fat will have a more difficult time being penetrated by the salt solution and will, therefore, become rancid more quickly. 

If you’re working with beef, aim for round or brisket cuts. With pork, you’ll want to rely on the ham, belly, or shoulders. Let the meat cool before you salt cure it – usually, refrigerator temperatures will suffice, although the perfect level is just about freezing. 

When you cure your meat with salt, you will want to keep them at around 35 to 50 degrees for large cuts. If you are working with corned beef, refrigerator temperatures will be needed. However, if you are dehydrating meat for jerky or other salted and dried products, you can do this outside in hot temperatures (as long as they are not humid). Too much moisture in the air can ruin your dehydrated meat products.

You should also rinse your meat before you preserve it. This will help get any surface bacteria off the meat and will prepare it for preservation. Use cold or lukewarm water. 

Why You Should Consider Preserving Meat with Salt

Using salt to preserve meat was a common practice until the 19th century and later, when refrigeration made it largely unnecessary. In many places in the world, salted fish and meat are still consumed on a regular basis, with these foods forming the staple of a diet in places like North Africa, Russia, and the Arctic. 

When you preserve meat with salt, you won’t have to refrigerate it or freeze it – meaning you can save space, time, and money in your homestead kitchen.

6 Jalapeno Preservation Ideas You Must Try

6 Jalapeno Preservation Ideas You Must Try

Jalapenos are easy vegetables to grow, but when it comes to using them in your cooking, it’s a bit more difficult. 

Not everybody loves the spicy-hot crunch of a fresh jalapeno, but luckily, there are hundreds of different recipes out there that can incorporate them (without necessarily turning up the heat). You just have to get creative!

That some sort of creativity is necessary when it comes to preserving jalapenos. There are plenty of ways you can save your jalapeno peppers for the future – I know I tried out most of these this summer when I was blessed with pounds upon pounds of jalapeno peppers in my garden. 

If you have a little bit of time on your hands and want to be able to enjoy the spicy crunch of a jalapeno pepper long into the winter months, consider giving some of these jalapeno preservation ideas a try. 

Drying Jalapeno Peppers

Drying jalapeno peppers is one of the easiest methods of preserving these tasty vegetables. It allows for long term storage without taking up a ton of space in your refrigerator or freezer. 

There are a few ways you can dry your jalapeno peppers – you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment or technical knowledge in order to do this. 

No matter which method you try, make sure you wash and dry your jalapenos thoroughly. Jalapeno peppers aren’t exactly dirty plants, but especially if you used any kinds of fertilizers or pesticides, it’s important that you get those chemicals off your plants. 

To dry jalapeno peppers using the classic method of air drying, all you need to do is place them on a wire rack in a room that is dry and well-ventilated. Make sure the entire surface area of the pepper has access to air to allow for even drying. You might need to turn them once a day in order to ensure this. 

If you do n’t want to go through the effort of rotating your peppers, you can always string them up on a piece of string. It takes about three or four weeks for your papers to completely dry. 

You can also dry jalapeno peppers in the oven. This takes up much less space and is a bit less time-consuming. You will wash and dry your peppers before cutting them in half length wise to expose the seeds. 

Lay the peppers out on a baking sheet and then cook them in the oven at the lowest temperature possible – 100 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Keep an eye on the peppers, turning every fe minute. As soon as they are crunchy, your work is complete. 

If you have a dehydrator, this is by far the easiest method of preserving jalapenos via drying. All you need to do is cut the peppers and lay them out on the racks, letting them dry in about seven or eight hours. 

Once your jalapeno peppers are fully dry, no matter which method you use, you can grind them up to use like cayenne powder or you can keep them whole. You may rehydrate them easily with water to allow for easy integration in just about any recipe that calls for these veggies!

Pickling Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers cannot be canned except for in a pressure canner – the exception to this is if you can after pickling your papers first. Pickled peppers also can be stored in the refrigerator. 

Wash and dry your peppers to start. While you are doing this, you should also be sterilizing any jars you intend to use. 

You will need one pound of jalapeno peppers, three cups of white vinegar, a tablespoon of pickling salt, and other herbs to taste. You might consider adding white pepper, hot sauce, or garlic, for example. 

All you need to do is bring the vinegar to a boil in a small pot before adding the rest of your ingredients. Remove the mixture from the heat, pour the contents into a jar, and let it cool. 

You can then refrigerate your pickled peppers or you can process them in a  canner. You should process in a water bath canner for about 15 minutes. 

After they have been canned, pickled jalapeno peppers can last for several years in storage. They taste great in traditional Mexican dishes as well as when eaten as side dishes or snacks. 

Roasting Jalapeno Peppers

Many people overlook the idea o roasting jalapeno peppers as a form of preservation. However, it’s a great way to preserve jalapenos because it allows you to remove the outer skin and gives the peppers a unique new flavor. 

Roasted peppers are perfect for your favorite jalapeno popper recipe. All you need to do is apply some source of heat-  you can do this in your oven or even over an open fire. The heat will cause these kins to char, blacken, and eventually loosen. You can then peel them. 

A slow-roasted jalapeno pepper that has been cooked for a long period of time will have a unique, sweet flavor, while one that hasn’t been roasted for very long will remain quite spicy.

Freezing Jalapeno Peppers

Freezing is one of the quickest methods of preserving jalapeno peppers. It requires very little time as you don’t need to cook them before freezing – you just need to peel them or skin them if you so choose. 

Once you thaw your jalapeno peppers, the skins will come off easily, too – so if you know you are going to want peeled peppers but don’t want to take the time to do it now, don’t worry. 

To freeze jalapeno peppers, begin by washing them thoroughly and placing them into a freezer-safe bag. Put them in the freezer and use them up within six months to a year. 

If you don’t want your jalapeno peppers to clump together in the freezer, try laying them out on a cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer and allow them to freeze individually overnight. Once they have frozen, you can remove them and place them in bags -this way, the papers can be removed individually. 

Frozen and thawed peppers are a bit limp to the touch and rather squishy, so they won’t have the original crunch that they did when they were fresh. However, you can still use them in just about any recipe you originally had in mind. 

Canning Jalapeno Peppers

Canning jalapeno peppers is one of the easiest methods of preserving jalapenos, but keep in mind that you will need to have a pressure canner in order to do this safely. 

The reason for this is that jalapeno peppers are considered low acid foods. You cannot water bath can jalapenos because the temperatures do not get high enough to get rid of the risk of botulism. 

To pickle jalapenos, you will need about three pounds of jalapeno peppers along with 1 ½ gallons of water (for the canner), 1 ¾ cups water (for the jars), 7 ½ cups vinegar (white or apple cider will both work), 2 ½ tablespoons of canning salt, and spices to taste. 

This will yield about six pint jars. 

Wash and slice your peppers. You can cut them into slices as you see fit, depending on how you intend to use them in your recipes. Wash and rinse your pint jars, preparing and sanitizing them as needed. 

Place your herbs (mustard and celery both work well) in the bottom of your canning jars. Pack the peppers into the jars, allowing for about half an inch of headspace. 

Bring your vinegar, water, and canning salt to a boil. Ladle the brine over your peppers and make sure they are totally covered. 

If there are any bubbles in the jars, remove them before attaching your lids and bands. Process the jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if needed. Let them cool for 24 hours and then store for one year. 

Jalapeno Peppers in Olive Oil

Preserving jalapeno peppers in olive oil is another popular method of preservation. This will keep your peppers fresh for at least a week – but often longer. Olive oil peppers are fantastic when eaten on their own or as a topping for dishes like tacos or fajitas. 

To do this, start by roasting your jalapenos on a grill over medium heat. The skins should be slightly blackened. After cooling, skin the peppers and cut them into thick strips. 

Next, you should remove the seeds from the peppers. The innards will retain more than enough heat, so you don’t need the seeds to make the vegetables even stronger!

Add your strips of pepper to clean jars. Pour in just enough olive oil to cover them up and then put a lid on the jars. You will need to keep the jar airtight and refrigerated. 

A Word of Caution on Preserving Jalapenos

Preserving jalapenos is a fun way to pass the time on a rainy summer afternoon, but I do have to give you one word of caution. When you are handling the pepperpots, particularly when you are slicing or cutting them, make sure you wear gloves – and under no circumstances should you touch your face! 

When you are done cutting or handling the peppers, make sure you wash your hands immediately. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that you are going to have painful jalapeno burns on your hands – and trust me, this is not fun to deal with! 

8 Best Ways to Preserve Garlic

8 Best Ways to Preserve Garlic

If you grow your own garlic – or simply love cooking with it so much that you always have tons on hand at home – you might be wondering how you can make it last longer. 

There are several easy tips for storing garlic that can make it last longer, but preserving garlic is the best way to keep it tasting fresh long after the harvest. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Harvesting and Storing Garlic

Raw garlic that has been dried can be stored for several months in a cool, dark environment. Otherwise, it will sprout quickly. 

The best tips for storing and preserving garlic always start with the garlic that is the freshest and best for cooking. Look for heads of garlic – whether you are growing your own at home or buying at the store – that are full and have not yet sprouted. 

Next, squeeze the garlic. If it’s soggy or soft at all, it’s no good – the same goes for its smell. A head of garlic should not smell sour, moldy, or mildewy at all. You might notice a few brown spots on the cloves. This isn’t a sign that your garlic is rotten but simply indicates when the garlic was harvested. These can be trimmed off after peeling.

If you are harvesting garlic from your own garlic, you will want to follow a few simple tips. First, keep in mind your local climate and the time you planted garlic. Your ideal harvest date will vary depending on these factors. 

However, a telltale sign that your garlic is ready to be harvested is that the bottom leaves on these talks will become brown – the upper leaves should still be green. Gently lift the garlic from the dirt using a tool instead of pulling on the stems. This will prevent damage to the stalks and bulbs. 

Lightly rinse the soil from the bulbs. Allow the bulbs to cure after harvest so that they do not rot. To do this, find a well-ventilated location that is sheltered from direct sunlight and precipitation – a covered porch is ideal. You should then spread the garlic, with the leaves and roots intact, on newspapers or hang them in bundles of ten plants. 

Within three weeks or less, the skins on the bulbs will become papery. At this time, they have been properly cured. The exact amount of time it will take for your bulbs to cure will vary depending on your environment. In a more humid environment, it may take a bit longer than three weeks. Some varieties of garlic, like elephant garlic, require more time for curing – up to six weeks in some cases. 

Once you have cured your garlic, you can remove the outer layer of skin and slice off the roots and tops. Then, proceed to one of the preservation methods I’ve described below. 

Peeling Garlic for Preservation

Many of the methods of preserving garlic that I’ll tell you about involve peeling it. This can be the most frustrating and time-consuming aspect of it, leading many people to question whether preserving garlic is worth the effort at all. 

The mistake is in believing that you have to peel each and every clove of garlic by hand. To get it done faster just hit the clove with the flat side of a knife. Be careful not to smash your garlic, but doing this can help the peels fall right off. 

Other home cooks prefer to place their garlic cloves in a glass jar with closed lids, and then shake vigorously until the skin is loosened. This can be highly effective, too – just make sure you don’t damage the cloves.

Some people even use microwaves to loosen up the skin before peeling. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure the cloves are still intact and not damaged in any way after peeling so that you can produce the best final product when all is said and done. 

After you’ve peeled your garlic, go ahead and rinse the cloves. Then you can proceed with a preservation method as needed. 

Preserving Garlic by Canning

One option for preserving garlic is to can it. It’s not recommended that you can garlic using a water bath canner because it is a low-acid vegetable that requires high temperatures in order to remove the risk of foodborne illness.

However, while you can safely can garlic using a pressure canner, you are likely going to find that the taste and texture are off. Pressure canners heat food at much higher temperatures, which causes the garlic to lose its flavor and become somewhat soggy. As a result, there are no formal processing times when it comes to canning garlic. 

You can, however, simply store canned garlic in the refrigerator. Here, the garlic can stay fresh for up to a year (but more often just a few months or so). This method is the easiest way to store garlic, but it takes up a lot of space. If you want to preserve your garlic without the need for refrigeration, you will need to use another method. 

Otherwise, you can submerge peeled cloves in undiluted vinegar or wine and stash them in the fridge. The vinegar or wine will provide an acidic environment so that bacteria cannot grow. Red wine, dry white wine, or wine vinegars are the best for this application – balsamic vinegar is safe, but it may impart a strong flavor on your garlic. 

You can store your garlic for roughly four months in this way – storing it longer won’t make you sick, but mold can develop around the ring of the jar and you may notice a change in flavors. Do not store your garlic at room temperature, even if you’ve submerged it in wine or vinegar. It will rapidly mold. 

If you’d like, you can also add ingredients like herbs to the mixture. This is simply a matter of taste and won’t impact the safety of your finished product. 

You might notice that your garlic turns blue after being submerged in vinegar. This is nothing to worry about-  the garlic is still safe to eat. This happens because garlic contains anthocyanins, which are water-soluble pigments that turn blue in acidic environments. The color change is more likely to happen when you harvest and preserve immature garlic. 

Preserving Garlic in Cold Storage

If you have a storage area that will allow you to store garlic at temperatures of around 32 degrees, then you’re in luck – you can easily store soft neck garlic for up to nine months at these temperatures.  Hardneck garlic will store for six months. As long as you keep the garlic in a well-ventilated place that is cool and dark, you will not have any problems storing cloves. 

After some time, the cloves may begin to shrivel or sprout. While it will still be safe to eat, it won’t be at the top quality. If you are keeping garlic at ambient temperatures of about 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (room temperature) it will last about one or two months. 

Preserving Garlic by Freezing

Garlic can be prepared for a number of ways by freezing. 

The first requires you to first chop your garlic into fine pieces. Then, you can wrap it in a plastic freezer bag and freeze it. You can just break off the amount you need every time you want to use it. 

You can also place full garlic bulbs or cloves, either peeled or unpeeled, in a  freezer bag or container. Remove entire cloves as needed. 

The final way to freeze garlic is to peel the cloves and then puree them with oil in a blender at a ratio of one part garlic to two parts oil. Put the mixture in an airtight container, allowing for about an inch of headspace. 

This mixture needs to be frozen immediately  -since the garlic is already low-acid and then you are removing air (by mixing it with oil), you have a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. 

Preserving Garlic by Submerging it in Oil

Garlic-infused oil is a popular way to preserve garlic and is perfect for self-proclaimed foodies. However, you need to be careful when preserving garlic in this way, for the reasons mentioned in the above tips – garlic, when submerged in oil, provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and produce toxins. 

If you preserve garlic in oil, follow the steps listed above by pureeing garlic and mixing it with the oil of your choice. You can also use dehydrated garlic in oil, but you need to make sure all the moisture has been removed and that no moisture is added later on. 

If you’ve ever bought garlic in oil products at the store, you might be wondering how those products remain shelf-stable. Simply put, commercial garlic in oil products are prepared under strict guidelines and contain citric acid to increase the acidity of the mixture. 

You can acidify your own garlic in vinegar, but it’s a long, time-consuming process (it can take a week or more for the garlic to fully acidify). As a result, this is not a method of preserving garlic that’s recommended for home food preservationists. 

Preserving Garlic by Dehydration 

You can also dehydrate garlic. This is a popular method of preserving garlic for people who don’t have a great environment for storing garlic but also don’t have the freezer space necessary to store it in that way. 

Start by selecting firm, fresh cloves without any bruises. Peel the cloves after separating them. Then, cut them in half lengthwise. You can then dehydrate using a food dehydrator or you can dehydrate in an oven. 

Usually, you will need to dehydrate your garlic at about 140 degrees for two hours before switching to 130 degrees for another four to six hours. Upon removing your garlic, you should find that it is somewhat crisp – not pliable, and breaking when bent. You can pack the garlic in an airtight container and store it at room temperature. It can also be frozen. 

Some people even make garlic salt with their dehydrated garlic. To do this, you will simply need to process your garlic in a food processor and then add salt at a ratio of four parts salt to one part garlic powder. Blend it for two seconds. 

8 Ways To Preserve Cucumbers This Summer

8 Ways To Preserve Cucumbers This Summer

When you’re growing cucumbers, you’ll likely enjoy a harvest that is either feast or famine. You will spend much of the summer awaiting the arrival of the delicious vegetables, and then you will be so inundated with them that you just don’t know what to do with them!

Luckily, there are several easy methods of preserving cucumbers that you need to know about. It is something that can be done quickly and easily at home – without a ton of equipment, in most cases – so that you can enjoy the fresh flavors of summer all year long. 

Cucumber Jelly

Many people aren’t aware of one of the best methods of preserving cucumbers – amazing cucumber jelly! It’s easy to make and best yet, it can be preserved afterward using a water bath canner. 

To make cucumber jelly, you will need about 2 ½ cups of cucumber juice, seven cups of sugar, a cup of vinegar, and two pouches of liquid pectin. You can add a bit of vanilla if you’d like, too. 

Combine everything in a pot and bring it to a boil, stirring every now and then. Boil it for two minutes then remove it from the heat. Add your pectin, then bring it back to a boil. Let it boil for another couple of minutes. 

Pour the jelly into canning jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe down the rims and place the lids on the jars. Once your lids are on the jars, you have a choice – you can either cool the jelly and store it in the refrigerator, or you can process it in a water bath canner for ten minutes. Just make sure you let it cool for 24 hours before storing! 

Cucumber jelly tastes delicious on toast, or you can serve it with your favorite meat. I recommend serving it as an alternative to mint jelly on lamb!

Cucumber Breads and Muffins

If you are a baker at heart, you can make your own sweet breads and muffins. These can then be stored for use later on, or eaten immediately. To make them, simply substitute cucumber for zucchini in your favorite zucchini bread or muffin recipe. It works exactly the same. The goods freeze well for quick breakfasts, too!

Dehydrated Cucumbers

Dehydrated cucumbers, or cucumber chips, are surprisingly delicious – plus, they’re a healthier alternative to chips. All you need to do is slice your cucumbers into thin pieces before laying them (ideally without touching) on the trays of your dehydrator. Let them dry for four hours or until they are brown and crunchy. 

Feeling adventurous? You can also add spices to your chips. Most people just stick to salt and a little bit of olive oil, but you could also use things like ranch seasoning, turmeric, garlic, or rosemary if you are feeling creative!

Make Pickles

One of the most popular methods of preserving cucumbers to make pickles out of them. You have two options: dill pickles or bread and butter pickles. 

Personally, I like a nice crunchy dill pickle. To make crunchy dill pickles, you will need about eight pounds of cucumbers. You can use any kind of cucumber, but the kind that are grown specifically for pickling will work best. 

For your brine, you will need ½ cup of salt, two quarts of water, ¼ cup of sugar, and 1 ½ quarts of vinegar. You can use any kind of vinegar you’d like, but I recommend white vinegar (this will prevent any discoloration).

For the crunchiest pickles ever, make sure you soak them ahead of time (about twelve hours total) in a saltwater solution. This will help remove excess moisture that can make your pickles soggy. 

After you have prepared your cucumbers (peeled and sliced), you can heat your brine to boiling. Place a teaspoon of mustard seed and 1 ½ heads of fresh dill in the boiling brine. If you want, you can also add a few teaspoons of store-bought pickling spices.

Place your cucumbers in your hot, prepared canning jars, then add your brine. Make sure you leave about half an inch of headspace. You will need to process your jars in a water bath canner for ten minutes, adjusting for altitude if needed.

You don’t have to can your pickles if you don’t want to, either. While most pickle recipes call for a quick dip in the water bath canner (like the recipe I just detailed for you), keep in mind that you can also make refrigerator pickles. You’ll use the exact same recipe as if you were going to can the pickles, but instead of canning, you’ll stick the jars in the refrigerator. You will want to wait a few weeks for them to fully develop their flavors, but after that, you can go ahead and eat them up. 

Don’t want to eat them up right away? They’ll last at least two months in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad.

Whip Up Some Cucumber Juice

Cucumber juice is a great way to harness all the flavors and nutrients of delicious cucumbers. All you need to do is send the cucumbers – seeds, skins, and all – through a juicer. You can then use the juice in cucumber jelly or in smoothies. It can even be used in creative recipes like frozen margaritas! If you don’t have a juicer, you should be able to achieve a close consistency with a blender or food processor, too.

Make Cucumber Relish 

Making relish is another popular method of preserving cucumbers. Sweet yet acidic at the same time, a good cucumber relish is the perfect addition to the quintessential summer barbeque.

To make an easy pickle relish, combine three or four pounds of cucumbers with a large onion, ¼ cup pickling salt, 1 cup of sugar, three cups of white vinegar, and some garlic, mustard, turmeric, and celery seed to taste. You’ll boil everything in a large pot for three hours. 

Once your mixture is warm and mushy, you will ladle it into canning jars. Keep in mind that relish is meant to have a soft, somewhat saggy consistency. However, you are going to want to remove as much excess moisture as possible.

When your relish is finished, you can pack it into pint jars and can for ten minutes or you can store it in the refrigerator. The choice is yours!

Create a Cucumber Salsa

There are plenty of ways you can make salsa with cucumbers. Most also call for tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables. Here is an excellent cucumber salsa recipe for you to consider. 

To make cucumber salsa, you should combine two cucumbers, peeled and chopped, with two tomatoes, chopped. You can also add ½ cup of sweet bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, and even a small onion to the mix. Just make sure everything is chopped finely. 

You will also need a clove of minced garlic, two tablespoons of lime juice, and some parsley, cilantro, dill weed, and salt to taste. You will mix everything together before covering and refrigerating it for one hour. 

Serve it with tortilla chips or pack it into a canning jar and stick it in the refrigerator. It should store for up to two weeks. I don’t recommend canning this cucumber salsa – since it does not contain vinegar to raise its acidity, it’s not safe to can it in a water bath canner.

Compose a Cooling Cucumber Sorbet

If you’re tired of all the typical healthy recipes for preserving cucumbers, consider this unique dessert. A cucumber sorbet is not only delicious, but it’s also nutritious. Plus, it’s easy to make. 

All you need to do is put 1 ½ pounds of cucumbers in a food processor. You’ll process them until smooth and then add a cup of sugar and three tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. Then you can blend the mixture until it reaches a soft consistency. Put it in a freezer-safe container and let it freeze for at least four hours. 

That’s all there is to it! Summer – served. 

Can You Can or Freeze Cucumbers?

You can easily freeze cucumbers in freezer-safe bags, containers, or mason jars – however, I don’t necessarily recommend it. It will render your cucumbers somewhat soggy and mushy upon thawing, which is definitely not desired for most applications. However, if you only plan on making a soup or something else that doesn’t require much texture, this method may work well for you. Give it a go!

However, canning cucumbers is definitely not recommended. There are no water bath-safe recipes for canning cucumbers, since they are a low-acid vegetable, and pressure canning cucumbers can make them soggy and unpalatable. Plus, this soggy texture can create uneven pockets inside your canning jars, making it difficult for them to be safely canned. 

Instead, consider one of these other awesome methods of preserving cucumbers. Bon appetit!