Capture the freshness of summer produce

Summer’s harvest is right around the corner.

The late summer and fall harvest season is at its peak! For many, this means it’s also time to “put up” foods for future use whether by freezing, canning, or dehydrating. Always use research based food preservation methods to keep your produce safe and at optimum quality. Here are some guidelines:

  • Only preserve quality produce. Preserving fruits and vegetables does not improve quality. So choose fresh fruits and vegetables are ripe and are high quality.
  • Preserve foods quickly after harvest to capture the most nutrition value and the best taste and texture.
  • If you are canning your produce, choose the correct canning method for fruits and vegetables. Low acid produce which includes almost all vegetables must be canned with a pressure canner. Tomatoes can be canned in the water bath canner, but you must acidify by adding lemon juice or citric acid.
  •  Only use research based recipes for canning tomato salsas which can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation or University Extension websites such as Michigan State University Extension.
  • High acid foods which include almost all fruits can be preserved in a water bath canner. Again, follow a research based recipe. Remember to start counting the processing time after the jars are in the boiling water (water must be at least 1 inch above the top of the jars) and the water has returned to a boil.
  • Most vegetables should be blanched in a water bath or steam blanched before freezing to stop the action of enzymes in the vegetables from causing undesirable changes in color and texture.
  • Use high quality freezer containers or bags or wraps. They should be moisture and vapor resistant and durable. Always mark your foods before you freeze them with the name of the food and the date you frozen it. Adding the quantity in a package is also very useful.
  • Dehydrating foods is a quick and easy way to preserve fruits and vegetables. Dehydrating guidelines can be found at National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Preserving fresh fruits and vegetables in season can be a satisfying and economical way to capture the summer harvest. Follow researched based preservation instructions and enjoy top quality fruits and vegetables all year long!

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