Serve the Preserve
Seven ways to hold on to your summer favorites.
Photo By Weston Carls
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It may still feel like summer, but according to our calendar, fall is upon us. And while Texas weather may not be intuitive, the in-season produce is a clear sign of the fall transition. But fear not—there are still ways to hang onto your peaches, cucumbers, and tomatoes (and the rest of your summer favorites).
Food preservation ensures you have access to your seasonal favorites all year round. Plus it’s both cheaper and more nutritious than buying canned goods at the store. With seven different methods to choose from, the opportunities are endless.
Dehydrating is the oldest method of food preservation. It can be done in the oven, or more conveniently in a food dehydrator. This process removes all moisture from the produce, often giving it a denser texture. It’s important to make sure that the food is completely dry, or else it won’t stay edible for long.
Pro Tip: Which method preserves food the longest? “It really will depend on the fruit or vegetable. Drying is the most simple and intuitive, but hot processing can last for years,” according to Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due.
Canning is often considered one of the healthier methods of preservation because it doesn’t add any outside components (salt or sugar) to its contents. The canning method applies heat to contents in a closed-glass mason jar, removing air from the jar to create a vacuum seal. This is best for highly acidic foods such as tomatoes, berries, chutneys, and salsas.
Pro Tip: “It is critical to leave headspace in the jar when canning. Improperly canned items can be dangerous for consumption,” Griffiths says.
Pickling preserves food through fermentation, by submersion in brine or vinegar. This process can take anywhere from one to four weeks and is best for vegetables with tough skin such as cucumbers and peppers, or root vegetables like carrots and radishes.
Pro Tip: Want your pickled veggies extra crisp? Trim the ends off the vegetable before putting it in the jar, mixing certain leaves like cherry or grape and adding alum (found in the spice section of the grocery store).